Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
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With a few hours to reflect on the trade that sent midfielder Bryan Arguez to Carolina in exchange for RailHawks midfielder Floyd Franks, United head coach Manny Lagos said that while Arguez wasn't outwardly unhappy after signing for Minnesota in the offseason, he never really seemed to be on the same page.
"You can’t always put your finger on certain things," he said. "I just felt like sometimes players come and can’t quite buy into what you’re trying to do, and they’re a little bit distant. It was one of those situations where unfortunately he couldn’t quite embrace it here. I don’t think he fully committed to the club."
Franks will replace Arguez in the Minnesota setup, after captaining Carolina during the spring season. Lagos is looking forward to not only his skills, but his leadership. "He’s a two-way midfielder who works really hard," said the coach. "He’s a box to box player. In modern-day soccer, there’s a need for real quality box-to-box players; they need to be good on both sides of the ball. We envision him just adding to the stability in the center of the field."
More signings on the way?
According to Lagos, the club has opened negotiations to try to sign two triallists for the fall. Minnesota is trying to sign both defender Logan Emory and winger Omar Daley, in part to try to help pad a squad that struggled with injuries in the spring season.
"We are trying to get a little bit deeper squad, just because we felt like we got caught with a lot of injuries the first part of the year," said Lagos. "We’re trying to acknowledge that it was an unlucky year in terms of being healthy, but we’re going to try to attack it by having a little more depth in the second half of the season."
I looked both Emory and Daley's situations as part of the coverage of the USA Cup exhibition with Edmonton, including some quotes from Emory, but a short recap: Emory made 22 appearances at the back for Toronto over the past two years, while Daley is a vastly experienced winger, with 50 international caps for Jamaica on his resume. Both would be excellent signings - and both could see plenty of the field for Minnesota in the fall.
Said Lagos, who didn't comment on either player directly, "I always think young players should be hungry to play pro soccer. It doesn’t matter where you are; the guys that are going to make it long-term have that hunger and that drive no matter what, whether they’re playing in MLS or in our league. We fully expect that any player we sign to this club, they’re looking to try to become a better player, and help the club out, and in turn we’ll give them an opportunity."
Two more exhibitions, two more results
United had a pair of exhibitions in the last week, following up with their well-attended game with Edmonton. The Eddies trained in Minnesota all week, so the two teams met again the following Saturday for a closed-door scrimmage, which ended 0-0 and featured a number of triallists on both sides.
Tuesday, Minnesota traveled to Thunder Bay to take on the Chill, a Premier Development League side. The game was tied at halftime, but second-half goals from Michael Reed, Travis Wall, Nate Polak, and Sean De Silva gave United a 4-0 win. The Chronicle Journal of Thunder Bay had a full recap of the game, which was played mostly by squad players from Minnesota, not triallists.
Nate Polak returns
Striker Nate Polak missed the entire first half of the season with thoracic outlet syndrome - blood clots in the shoulder, basically. (I interviewed him about the injury here.) He's back on the field, though - as you can tell from his goal in Thunder Bay - and he couldn't be happier. "I'm very grateful to be healthy and playing again," he said via text. "I don't know what I'd do without soccer."
Polak says he's completely healthy and 100% for the fall, good news for a United side that's struggled to find a forward to play alongside Pablo Campos.
"Hopefully we'll be pretty darn healthy"
Things may finally be looking up on the injury front for United. Central midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan trained in full for the first time on Thursday, leading Lagos to hope that he would be available for the beginning of the fall season. Most of the rest of the team is healthy as well, including Calum Mallace, who did not travel to Thunder Bay for the game, but who practiced in full Thursday.
The one player who may be injury-affected is Brent Kallman, who appears to be set to miss another week with a knock picked up in training. No doubt the youngster - who has a chance to play big minutes at center back, with Kyle Altman's retirement - will be hoping it is a relatively minor problem.
I joined United play-by-play guy Chris Lidholm and famed podcasters Bruce McGuire and Wes Burdine for a special Minnesota-centered edition of the du Nord Futbol Show. We gave out grades for the team in the spring, and talked about how United could improve for the fall, and at least one player already indicated on Twitter that he wasn't happy with us.
I hope you'll check it out - not for me, but for the rest of the crew, who were positively delightful. If you aren't a du Nord podcast listener, Bruce and Wes talk about Minnesota virtually every week, along with all sorts of other North American soccer news. I can't recommend it highly enough.