United is grooming its No. 1 draft pick as the future of the club. The team’s youngest player at 21, he could become a catalyst similar to former No. 1 draft picks Jack Harrison of New York City FC and Cyle Larin of Orlando City SC. Lingering injuries might mute his impact right away, but he’ll have chances this season to show his worth.
Born in the former Soviet Union but raised in Norway, the worldly center-back has played all across Europe, including the top Spanish and German leagues. Despite being new to the team, the 30-year-old has taken on the role of captain and brings a veteran’s mentality to the back line. With Alvbage in goal, the central defense should be experienced, well-organized and very strong.
The winger played for United in the NASL starting in ’12 before moving to Mexican club Leon in ’15. He was the first second-division player called up to the U.S. national team in about a decade when he made the roster in ’14. He’s one of eight players with ties to United’s NASL side. He’s part of a key core group of players connecting United to its past as the club begins play in MLS.
The seasoned goalkeeper is 34, the oldest player on the roster and one of several new signings brought in for this season. He was the consistent starter for his previous top-division team in Sweden for five years. The keeper is like the quarterback, as he is the one who sees the entire pitch and shouts instructions to field players. Having a mature presence in goal will help this new team stay cohesive.