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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Tuesday, the North American Soccer League announced that Minnesota United FC midfielder Simone Bracalello is the league Player of the Month for May. Bracalello is tied for second in the league with four goals this season, and is tied for third in the league with three assists.
"This means a lot to me, because they recognize that I'm doing well," Bracalello told the team website in a video posted on YouTube. "I'm happy because I helped the team to do well, and the most important thing for us is how the team does."
Bracalello has been Minnesota's best player so far this year, leading an attack that's tied for the league lead with 13 goals - important, given that United is also tied for the league lead in goals allowed (also 13).
The Genoa, Italy native has been in Minnesota since 2010, and had often been used as a forward in the past. Last year in the playoffs, though, they tried him as a wide midfielder, and he responded by scoring once and setting up three more goals. This year, he's found a home on the left side of midfield, and he told me following the team's last home game that playing out wide, where he could face the goal and run at defenders, felt much better than playing with his back to goal as a forward.
"Now I start from the back and see the play - that position is my position," he said. "Before, I played [up front] because they asked me to... but it's not my position."
I encourage you to watch the video linked above; you'll see his wizardry in action. He's the main creative force for Minnesota right now.