With star Kevin Molino long gone to defending MLS champion Columbus Crew, Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath remains in search of a starting left-side attacker.
He improvised and started versatile midfielder Hassani Dotson twice and right-side attacker Ethan Finlay once there in his team's 0-3 start while he waits for newly signed Franco Fragapane to arrive from Argentina and for MLS veteran Niko Hansen to heal.
Dotson played the left side when right-side attacker Robin Lod played up top in the season opener at Seattle and was injured for last week's Austin FC game. Finlay played his natural right side in both games, but moved to the left side against Real Salt Lake when Lod played the right side again.
On Saturday at Colorado, Heath changed his team's shape to a 4-3-3. He moved Finlay to a substitute's role and started Lod, Dotson and star Emanuel Reynoso in a three-man front designed to interchange spots and create scoring chances.
A fifth-year pro acquired from Houston in March, Hansen thrived on the left side in preseason, but he missed the season's first three games because of a thigh injury, just as starting center back Bakaye Dibassy did. Both were again listed as out for Saturday.
Heath called Hansen's injury "a blow because he looked really, really sharp in preseason. Looked like he could score a goal."
Fragapane is the left-side attacker acquired to fill that need, but he remains with his Talleres team until his immigration paperwork clears. He'll catch the next plane out as soon as it does, Heath said.
He's not only still playing in Argentina; he's playing well. Heath says that's a good thing because the South American season is winding down while MLS' season is just beginning.
"He's scoring goals, making goals," Heath said. "That will help us when he gets here. He'll be probably a little further along than all of our guys because of the length of season they've had. We're always worried something might happen while he's playing. That's always the danger.
"The sooner we can get him here, the better. But we have to weigh that with the fact that his playing well there will make it easier for him."
Heath on Friday reported recently signed striker Ramon Abila moved much better in training during the week after a chiropractor worked on him. His first MLS start last week was an unremarkable 58-minute performance in which neither he nor teammates pressed the opponent deep in their own end the way Heath wanted.
"I wouldn't highlight just Ramon," Heath said of Abila, who returned to a substitute's spot Saturday. "I don't think our forward play was very good, with or without the ball. I don't think we pressed as well as we can. I don't think we've played as well as we can. I don't think we've created as much as we can."
On his way
Newly signed forward Adrien Hunou posted an Instagram photo Saturday in which he posed with Minnesota United technical director Mark Watson and a white Loons jersey in Paris. He's there training and waiting to get his passport back before he can travel to Minnesota. He'll quarantine once he arrives.
"We're well into the process of getting this sorted," Heath said.