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Minnesota United plans sculpture to honor season ticket holders

Minnesota United announced plans Friday to construct a massive sculpture outside its under-construction Allianz Field intended to honor original season ticket holders from the 2017 season.

Dubbed the Itasca Society — with a nod to Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River — these initial season-ticket holders will be represented by name on a 65-foot wide metal U-N-I-T-E-D statue outside the new stadium when it opens in 2019. Each of the six letters in the sculpture will be 12 feet high.

“It was really important to us because in this sport I think more than in almost any others, the fans are the experience,” Minnesota United managing partner Dr. Bill McGuire said Friday. “The club is about fans. … I think it’s going to be really cool.”

Other highlights from Friday’s unveiling, which took place at Allianz headquarters just west of downtown Minneapolis:

*McGuire said stadium construction is on schedule and perhaps even ahead of schedule. The vertical steel for the structure should be completed by January, he said. Parts of the roof should start to become visible after that. “It’s really moving along,” he said.

*United sporting director Manny Lagos gave an update on the organization’s offseason roster construction. The Major League Soccer playoffs concluded a week ago, with Toronto FC winning the MLS Cup.

“We’re excited about core, and we’re excited about the players we’ve gone through the process of keeping,” he said. “We’re very calculated now about how we want to add to this core. We want to make sure we’re really getting better and building on the depth of what we maybe didn’t quite have last year.”

Asked specifically about what he liked and didn’t like about the 2017 roster, Lagos said: “We have to get better defensively. We have to commit to saying we’re going to grow the group of players we really liked but be honest that we still gave up a massive amount of goals. For a team that wants to be competitive and wants to make the playoffs, we have to make sure that part of the field is shored up. … Sometimes your best defense is making sure you have quality players who can absorb the pressure of the game with their touches and decision-making or it’s through players who frankly make a difference in the final third in ways that maybe we didn’t quite have this year.”

Lagos said the club will have signings to announce as the offseason progresses but the organizational model is trying to remain patient while staying aggressive.

“We’re in a roster-building phase for the club, and we have to get better,” he said.

Can Keenum convince Vikings he's their quarterback for 2018 and beyond?

The Super Bowl in Minneapolis is a little over a month-and-a-half away. The Vikings are 10-3 and have at least a reasonable chance of being the first team to host a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

With that as a backdrop, the Vikings’ 2018 quarterback plans are pretty far down on the organization’s list of priorities. That said, what happens between now and the Feb. 4 Super Bowl could at least have some influence over the answer to the organization’s QB conundrum in 2018 and beyond.

Let’s play out a few “what-if?” scenarios as we try to sort out how the coming weeks might shape the Vikings’ plans. Remember: Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford will all be free agents in 2018:

What if Keenum keeps playing well and makes a deep playoff run?

When the Vikings were 6-2 and coming off their bye week with Bridgewater added to the active roster and Bradford headed to injured reserve, Keenum was playing good but not great. He’s ramped up his game since then, keeping Bridgewater’s return to a starting role this season — which at one point was starting to feel close to inevitable — from happening.

The assumption from most, at the very least, was that even if Keenum kept playing well he was still just keeping the seat warm for Bridgewater long-term. That narrative might be changing.

ESPN (Insider) quoted an anonymous source in a recent piece about 2018 QB situations, coming to the conclusion that the most likely outcome is that the Vikings try to sign Keenum for 2018 as their starter. The quote: “I think they will keep Keenum, … Keenum looks like he can do more, but they will use the next three to four games to evaluate him.”

If Keenum gets the Vikings into the playoffs with a first-round bye and gets them at least as far as the NFC title game while playing well, he could be the guy. If he makes the Super Bowl — and certainly if he wins it — the likelihood increases.

Keenum turns 30 in February and should hold up physically for several more years. One mitigating circumstance could be the fate of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. He’s been credited with some of Keenum’s success, and we’ve seen QBs struggle to adapt to new coordinators in the past both league-wide and with the Vikings (particularly Daunte Culpepper after Scott Linehan left). If Shurmur gets a head coaching job this offseason, that could change things.

What if Keenum falters but we don’t see Bridgewater this year?

Let’s say the Vikings stumble a little on their way into the playoffs and then lose their first playoff game, with Keenum playing somewhere between mediocre and poor in the postseason.

My hunch then is the Vikings would go into the offseason planning to make Bridgewater their 2018 starter. They would have seen enough in practice, combined with his body of work pre-injury to feel confident enough to move in that direction. In a perfect world they might be able to keep both Bridgewater and Keenum, but both could command starting QB money and both could want a chance to be the clear-cut starter.

What if Keenum falters and the Vikings turn to Teddy this year?

Let’s say Keenum stinks against the Bengals in a loss on Sunday and Mike Zimmer decides that even though it’s late in the year he’s going to roll with Bridgewater for the final two regular-season games and the playoffs.

That would be a clear signal that the Vikings intend to try to sign Bridgewater for 2018 and beyond.

They would be rewarded if Teddy played well the rest of this year. It would make their future decision that much easier.

That said, what if Bridgewater also struggles — or worse, what if he gets reinjured?

In the short-term, Bradford is actually eligible to play starting Week 1 of the playoffs. I have no idea if he’s healthy, but he could at least be in play for the postseason. His knee issues, though, make it unlikely the Vikings would commit to him in 2018 and beyond.

The worst-case scenario, both short-term and long-term, is Keenum plays poorly and is replaced by Teddy, who also either plays poorly or is injured.

That would likely doom the Vikings this season and throw their confusing 2018 QB decision into utter chaos. In that case, their 2018 QB might not be on the roster right now.

I still think the Vikings’ most likely scenario is that Bridgewater opens 2018 as the starting QB. But if Keenum takes this team to a Super Bowl or plays well while getting close, things could change.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Portland at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Wild at Ottawa

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Denver

    8 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Oral Roberts at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on 103.5-FM/1130-AM

  • UC Riverside at Gophers women's basketball

    1 pm on 93.3-FM

  • Wild at Florida

    6:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Florida Atlantic at Gophers men's basketball

    2:30 pm on BTN, 103.5/1130

  • Wild at Tampa Bay

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Vikings at Green Bay

    7:30 pm on Ch. 11, 100.3/1130

  • Timberwolves at Phoenix

    8 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

Today's Scoreboard

No MLB games today

  • Cincinnati

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    7

    34

  • NY Jets

    New Orleans

     

    - F

    19

    31

  • Miami

    Buffalo

     

    - F

    16

    24

  • Green Bay

    Carolina

     

    - F

    24

    31

  • Baltimore

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    27

    10

  • Houston

    Jacksonville

     

    - F

    7

    45

  • Philadelphia

    NY Giants

     

    - F

    34

    29

  • Arizona

    Washington

     

    - F

    15

    20

  • Los Angeles

    Seattle

     

    - F

    42

    7

  • Tennessee

    San Francisco

     

    - F

    23

    25

  • New England

    Pittsburgh

     

    - F

    27

    24

  • Dallas

    Oakland

     

    - F

    20

    17

  • Sacramento

    Toronto

     

    - F

    93

    108

  • Orlando

    Detroit

     

    - F

    110

    114

  • Indiana

    Brooklyn

     

    - F

    109

    97

  • Cleveland

    Washington

     

    - F

    106

    99

  • St. Louis

    Winnipeg

     

    - F

    0

    4

  • Minnesota

    Chicago

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • Calgary

    Vancouver

     

    - F

    6

    1

  • Florida

    Vegas

     

    - F

    2

    5

No MLS games today