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Birdwatching: California is Calling

Wil v Orlando

One preseason trip down, one to go. Following the conclusion of their time in Orlando, the Loons have returned home for a brief pit stop before heading out to the West Coast for the Coachella Valley Invitational.

Florida Wrap-up

During their final days in Florida, MNUFC took on Orlando City SC in one final scrimmage. Despite a 0-2 scoreline, there were promising signs around the pitch for the Black and Blue.

A new-look Orlando squad maintained the bulk of possession, but the Loons broke out in flashes to keep their opponents honest. Ménder García worked his way into several good chances, though the Orlando defense ultimately proved impenetrable on the day. Some creative play from Cameron Dunbar continued his impressive start to preseason, while some quality saves from Clint Irwin proved that Minnesota United will have plenty of capable hands in net this season.

With the Coachella tournament still to come, MNUFC have three games in a single week to work out any remaining kinks and reach match fitness before they face Dallas on February 25.

Un Regalo de Los Tuzos

26-year-old defender Miguel Tapias was already going to be a Loon come summer-time, but after further negotiations, the club has secured the immediate transfer of the player. Tapias will be officially joining the squad as soon as possible, pending receipt of proper visas and paperwork.

When Pachuca came to Minnesota in 2019, Tapias was on the field. Similar to the acquisition of defender Ryen Jiba, it was his performance against the Loons that piqued the club’s interest.

“It goes back to when we played Pachuca, actually,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “I was really impressed with him that night. He played left side center back and one of the things that jumped out to me was his athleticism. He’s got a really incredible spring. He’s really good on the ball and if you look at the amount of games he’s played, the experience in a back-four, back-three, back-five. He’s played at left-back, so I feel his versatility will really help us this year.”

Since that game, the pursuit of Tapias has spanned multiple seasons, with an attempt to get the player on loan last year falling just short of the mark. As the experienced defender enters the prime of his career, Heath believes that his team has added a valuable asset at the right time.

“Perfect age, 26,” he said. “The best years are ahead of him. We tried to get him last year on loan, but eventually we’ve been able to get him permanently, so we’re well pleased.”

Kemar in Camp

Everyone’s favorite Jamaican left-back rejoined the squad this week, solidifying the squad's depth in the back. With six center backs and six fullbacks currently on the roster and in camp, the Black and Blue are well-equipped to handle the demands of a long season.

Despite missing a few weeks of training while attending to personal matters, Lawrence has evidently been preparing himself for the coming season.

“His weight’s good, his body fat’s good, he’s in good shape condition-wise,” Heath said. “Now we just gotta get some energy inside him because he’s missed a couple weeks where we’ve done some hard yards. He’s a little bit behind, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how he’s come back.”

With the return of Kemar and the acquisition of Tapias, this season’s roster is nearing completion. The club is still awaiting the return of Emanuel Reynoso, who is currently dealing with personal matters of his own in Argentina. Aside from Rey’s return, MNUFC are actively pursuing a few new signings to add to the squad before the season starts. If no transfers are secured before February 25, there’s no need to fret, as the MLS transfer window will remain open until April 24.

Just two-and-a-half weeks and three scrimmages separate us from the opening match against FC Dallas. With everyone coming together to finish their preparations, this brief window will be crucial in making sure the season gets off to a good start.