Minnesota United began to reshape its roster for the 2020 season on Friday, when it declined contract options on midfielder Rasmus Schuller and four other players.
A Finnish national-team member, Schuller, 28, was signed in January 2017 and was part of United for all of its first three MLS seasons.
He started 29 of 31 games in 2018 and 11 of the 15 games he played this season, all but one by May before rookie Hassani Dotson emerged and before Schuller’s Finnish national teammate Robin Lod arrived in July.
The team also declined options on midfielder Collin Martin, defenders Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat, Carter Manley and prospect Ally Hamis Ng’anzi.
It signed Moimbe-Tahrat from France’s second division in July as left-footed insurance behind rookie Chase Gasper at left back. He started all four games he played there.
United still has other big decisions to make, including whether to exercise star Darwin Quintero’s contract option and whether to bring back MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Vito Mannone.
Lod played 11 games this season for United, which acquired him in July after his season with a Spanish second-division club. He didn’t score a goal or get an assist in those games after he was signed to a $952,496 total compensation salary – the team’s second highest behind Quintero’s $1.75 million -- while on his summer holiday.
Most noticeably, he missed an open goal early in Sunday’s season-ending 2-1 playoff loss to the L.A. Galaxy when his shot inside the six-yard box rose over the crossbar.
“I still had time and all the space to make the goal, there’s no excuses,” Lod said. “It takes time to adapt. As time went by, I felt better. I think I have so much more to give.”
United coach Adrian Heath said that just like teenager Thomas Chacon, Lod’s best is ahead of him. He’s 26.
“He has been chasing his fitness,” Heath said, “but he’ll get better.”
Five left for Kallman
United’s one playoff game played leaves veteran defender Brent Kallman with five more games to serve starting next season on a 10-game suspension.
MLS suspended him last month for violating its substance-abuse and behavioral-health policy. He told reporters then he took responsibility for a product he took for about four months over the summer that thought would get him fully fit from what he called a “rough spot” with injuries.
Keeper honored again
Former United goalkeeper Matt Lampson has won MLS Humanitarian of the Year for the third time in four seasons that funds research and provides financial, emotional and motivational support for cancer patients and their families.
Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 17, Lampson hosted a young cancer patient at almost every L.A. Galaxy training session and game it played — home and away — including 50 children and their families for a September home game.
He won the award when he played for Chicago 2016 and with the United in 2018.