Minnesota United on Monday signed veteran French defender Bakaye Dibassy to give itself options and insurance for both starting and reserve roles at left center back or left back. It's working on the paperwork to acquire Argentinian attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso in negotiations that have stretched for six months or more.
It also could add a third player yet before MLS tries to resume its regular season later this month.
All of it has Loons coach Adrian Heath upbeat now that his team plays on with an undefeated 3-0-2 league record even after a 3-1 loss Thursday to Orlando City in the MLS is Back tournament semifinals. The Loons advanced to the final four while playing without injured starters Kevin Molino, Romain Metanire and Ike Opara for at least the last two games.
"We've had a really good start to the season," Heath said in a post-game video conference on Thursday. "Still undefeated in the league, difficult places where we've been and played. So I'm optimistic with this group.
"We've brought one player in. We're trying to bring one or two more in. If we can, we will. And if we can supplement this group with one or two bits of quality, then I'm very optimistic what the season ahead looks like for us."
The loss Thursday was the Loons' first in nearly nine months — since a first-round home playoff loss last October to L.A. Galaxy — because of both the off-season and four-month pandemic pause.
"I come out of this tournament, of course, disappointed," veteran midfielder Ethan Finlay said. "But I'm deeply excited about where we can go in this regular season. We set ourselves up in a good spot."
Asked if his team can go nine more months without another loss, Heath said, "I'd like to. I don't know if it's possible. But we'll certainly try."
Looking ahead, Loons veteran defender Michael Boxall sees the playoffs beyond whatever number of regular-season games the league still can play in market without or with fans.
He was asked what expectations there are now for his team.
"Pushing on for those home playoff spots," Boxall said. "Everyone who finished with this team last year still has a huge amount of disappointment in the way we didn't win that home playoff game. It's doing the same again, securing a home playoff game. Once again being a team other teams do not want to play in the playoffs, and then taking that extra step and making a deep playoff run.
"Those are our expectations. We've got a group that is more than capable of that."
No, no Molino
Loons veteran midfielder Kevin Molino entered Thursday's game in the 58th minute — his first action back from a strained hamstring — and energized his teammates. In particular, his gorgeous lead pass through Orlando City's back line that fellow second-half sub Mason Toye turned into their only goal in the 83rd minute.
When asked if it was a difficult decision whether to start Molino or bring him on earlier, Heath said, "No, he has been injured for a couple of weeks and he hasn't got an awful lot of work. So we had to manage his minutes. Then you're thinking, 'Well, if we get a goal and get back in the tournament, are we risking him for the next game?'
"Unfortunately, I haven't got the hindsight of making decisions after the game. We have to do them in the spur of the moment."
All shaped up
The Loons arrived in Orlando nearly six weeks ago in a condition Heath called "undercooked" because they hadn't played a game of 11-on-11 in four months. They headed home Friday for the regular season's restart far from that.
"The lads, they're going to be fit," he said. "We'll give them some time away from each other and some time away from me, and we'll see where we are next week."
Heath called the tournament, which ends Tuesday with Portland vs. Orlando City in the final, "an outstanding success.''
"The people at MLS couldn't have done any better than they've done," he said. "The hotel has been good. The facilities here at Disney have been fantastic. It's been a huge plus for the league. Hopefully, we won't do it again because we will get over this virus that we've got at the moment that's making everybody's life such a misery. But in terms of MLS, it has been a huge success. Thank you to all the staff who have been terrific in and out of the hotel.
"When we look back at it, it will be one of those things that we've never had before and maybe never have again.