CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Minnesota United FC’s goalkeeper coach says he knows exactly who the starter will be when the team’s first Major League Soccer season starts March 3 at Portland.
For the fans, though, the mystery surrounding the lack of goalkeeping options has been a source of major stress.
Only one official goalkeeper is signed to the roster — draftee Alec Ferrell, who is injured and a “long-term project,” according to goalkeeper coach Marius Rovde. With three others on trial, or an extended tryout, for the spot, the Loons have been coy about just who the No. 1 keeper will be.
“We will have a goalkeeper first game. I can promise [fans] that,” Rovde said. “They shouldn’t be worried. They’ll be very pleased with who will be in goal for us at the league opener.”
The team wouldn’t comment on reports from the Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten that the newest goalkeeper is John Alvbage.
The 34-year-old Swede has played for IFK Göteborg in Sweden’s top division since 2012. He would be the second Swede on the roster along with midfielder Mo Saeid.
Coach Adrian Heath said the team will “hopefully” have the new keeper “arriving this week.”
Flurry of new signings
Before United took the field Tuesday for its first preseason practice, the team announced the signings of Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor and Venezuelan midfielder Bernardo Anor, then added Finnish midfielder Rasmus Schuller in the afternoon. They bring the current roster to 21 players.
Taylor played for MLS’s Houston Dynamo for five years and most recently with the Portland Timbers. The 32-year-old is also a Jamaican men’s national team member. Heath said Taylor can play all four spots on the back line.
“I’ve always said if you can have one or two utility players who can cover the spots when you’ve got injuries and suspensions, they’re worth their weight in gold,” Heath said. “He’ll be important for us this year.”
Anor, 28, came on loan to United last season from Sporting Kansas City but missed most of it after an ankle injury suffered in a June practice. His original loan deal had a guarantee that he would make United’s MLS squad, he said.
Heath said it’s clear Anor has worked hard on rehabbing from his injury, and now it’s just figuring out which position suits him best. Anor is the seventh player with ties to United’s North American Soccer League squad to make the jump.
Schuller, 25, has played in Sweden and Finland’s top leagues and is also on the Finnish men’s national team. He will join preseason camp at a later date.
“Energy,” said Heath describing Schuller. “Box-to-box. Can play defensive midfield. Can play attacking midfield. I think he’s top of all the fitness wherever he’s been. Got a great range of passing. Great left foot. Just a really good player at the right age for us.”
Minnesotan in waiting
The team is waiting on paperwork to sign forward Ish Jome, a team spokesman said. Jome would be the eighth player from the NASL roster and the second with a Minnesota connection after defender Brent Kallman of Woodbury. Jome, born in Gambia, played for Prairie Seeds Academy of Brooklyn Center.