Minnesota United added depth and experience Friday when it signed veteran free agent Lawrence Olum to play behind 33-year-old starter Ozzie Alonso at the defensive-midfield position.
Olum, 34, has connections to Minnesota soccer and coach Adrian Heath. He scored the first goal ever against United in MLS play, in Portland’s 5-1 victory on March 3, 2017.
He also played for the Minnesota Thunder in its USL days and for Heath on USL teams in Austin, Texas, and Orlando. He has played for MLS’ Kansas City and Portland since 2011, was current Loons defender Ike Opara’s teammate on Sporting K.C. and can play on the back line as well. Olum started in the 2013 MLS Cup, which SKC won by beating Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks. He started 18 of 22 games for Portland last season.
United Sporting Director Manny Lagos said Olum adds depth and veteran leadership and calls his reunion with Heath “a nice story.”
Catching a break?
United on Saturday will play in Los Angeles a Galaxy team missing superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who’ll miss his second consecutive game because of an Achilles’ tendon injury.
He hasn’t played since he scored the winning goal in a season-opening 2-1 victory over Chicago. He scored 22 goals in 27 games last year, in his first MLS season. “He’s one of the best players in the league,” United defender Michael Boxall said.
Their nation calls
Five United players head for duty with their national teams after Saturday’s game: Romario Ibarra (Ecuador), Jan Gregus (Slovakia), Rasmus Schuller (Finland), Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica) and Romain Metanire (Madagascar.)
United requested a bye to coincide with the international schedule and doesn’t play again until March 30 at New England.
Romario Ibarra plays the U.S. men’s national team under new coach Gregg Berhalter on Thursday in Orlando. United’s Miguel Ibarra hoped for a call but wasn’t one of 24 U.S. players selected for games against Ecuador and Chile.
No place like home
United players and coaches toured new Allianz Field on Tuesday for the first time and walked atop the steep, 2,800-capacity standing supporters’ section behind one goal.
“They’re going to be right on top of the game,” said defender Brent Kallman, Woodbury’s own who played at Blaine’s National Sports Center and TCF Bank Stadium since he joined the club in 2013. “It’s going to be much louder. Everything is so tight. … It’s going to be a really tough place [for opponents] to play.”