Ethan Finlay can rattle off his stats from the past three years with the Columbus Crew like he's reciting the alphabet.
In 2014, the winger went "11 and seven," for 11 goals and seven assists. In 2015, his MLS All-Star and Best XI year, he was "12 and 13."
Last season, "six and nine." This season, when he scored just one goal for Columbus in the season opener and one assist at the end of April, barely even merited mentioning. Instead Finlay just labeled it as "tough."
But now as a Minnesota United player, that spiral might be reversing.
In his debut as a Loon this past Sunday at the Seattle Sounders, Finlay scored United's only goal.
"He's been everything we thought he was and more," coach Adrian Heath said. "Did I think he'd get a goal in his debut? No. But I do think, and we've spoke about it, that if he plays a regular season with his ability, I expect him to be making goals and scoring double figures."
Heath said Finlay is one of the "non-negotiable" pieces every club needs, that is, a positive person who works hard every day and can pick up his teammates throughout a long and grueling season. Finlay has displayed that since his Aug. 9 trade, especially in the locker room ahead of his first start against Seattle.
Finlay said while the goal was a "dream start" with his new club, he still finds himself having to explain his downturn in production.
"There's a lot of factors. A goal can't be created without other people around you, and then obviously, you have to take your chances when you can. And I think it's a little bit about luck as well," he said. "I didn't take quite as many chances as I had, and last year wasn't a terrible year. You know, six and nine is considered even still above average for this league for my position. I know I've been defending myself for about a year-and-a-half on that, but I continue to be ridiculed.
"But it's tough to have it be 11 and seven, and then 12 and 13, and then people look at the six and nine year and think, 'This guy's lost it,' right?" Finlay said. "And this last year has been tough. It's been difficult, and I think just the time in Columbus, not only for myself but for others, there's other guys that are making plays. And it was vice versa the years that I was scoring goals and making plays.
"It's just how it is. Not everyone can score and assist. You can still be a part of it. The encouraging part for me is, I was still playing really well. And that's one of the reasons I'm here today."
Other notes: Forward Christian Ramirez sat out practice Thursday at the National Sports Center, but he is still on "day-to-day" status with his hamstring injury. ... Center-back Brent Kallman was back into training after working separately Wednesday. ... Winger Bashkim Kadrii was still out dealing with personal issues. Heath said the team hopes to know more about his status by Friday.