Minnesota United FC is just days away from starting preseason and still has 12 open roster spots.
But the Loons aren’t in panic mode about that — yet.
“If I had a perfect world, 23-24 players is adequate, I believe,” coach Adrian Heath said. “As I say, I’m more concerned with the quality that we bring in, rather than the numbers, at this stage.
“Another four weeks down the road, I might not be saying exactly the same.”
United will travel to Casa Grande, Ariz., on Monday to begin its first Major League Soccer preseason ahead of the opening match March 3 at Portland. And while 16 official players are only just enough to come up with one 11-man lineup, none of the current squad seems too worried about how the team will practice.
“At least you have 15-16 players,” said midfielder Mohammed Saeid, who has experience in MLS and Sweden’s top division, “which is enough to at least start training and get the fitness up and get to know some of the players. And then we’ll add a few more players.”
Those additions could come pretty soon. Heath said the team had “one or two things going on within the league” as far as player signings, including one fairly “huge” one.
“We’re a lot closer than we were a week ago,” Heath said about locking down the player. “You have to wait sometimes to get what you want. But I’m confident that we’ll get the one I’m after.”
The Loons are also in pretty dire need of more goalkeepers, as the one on the roster, draftee Alec Ferrell, is still recovering from an injury. Heath said he spoke to Ferrell, and the keeper said he feels his recovery is ahead of schedule. But Heath doesn’t want to push the young player too soon and would rather the doctors decide when he can train.
“Obviously, that leads us to, we need one or two keepers,” Heath said, adding the team is hopeful to make some announcements on that front in the next few days. “We are actively looking at that situation. We will certainly have goalkeepers down in Arizona.”
Former United defensive midfielder Jeb Brovsky is also still rehabbing from an ACL tear in October. Heath said he saw Brovsky, who has five years of MLS experience, 10 days ago, and the player was working hard and feeling good.
“We’ve just got to get him fit and then we’ll see where we are from there,” Heath said. “I know people who have worked with him. He’s supposed to be great, really good professional, really good teammate. So we’ll give him the amount of time he needs to be fully fit and then we’ll address him [joining the MLS roster]. But we haven’t made any decision as of yet.”
United will also have a few players join the team on trial. Some are college players from smaller schools who were not at the combine but whom the coaching staff has liked. Some are USL or NASL players whom the staff has contacted. But Heath said the list of invites is not yet finalized.
“There are definitely bodies that will be there,” defender Justin Davis said. “A lot of those guys won’t make it. Some will. So we’ll build off of that.”