Five Players Selected In 2016 Expansion Draft

Minnesota United participated in the 2016 Major League Soccer Expansion Draft Dec. 13, selecting five players from across the league.

“It was an incredibly exciting day and we are ecstatic with the draft and the list we prepared, we certainly got a great group of guys to help build this roster who can help us from day one,” said Sporting Director Manny Lagos.

Minnesota United participated in the 2016 Expansion Draft with fellow newcomer Atlanta United.

“If you asked me a couple days if we would have been happy with what we got today we would have been delighted,” said MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath. “I don’t think it could have gone any better for us today. It’s a big day for the club and we know we have more to do, but in the grand scheme of things, today was a big piece.”

RD 1: Chris Duvall (D), New York Red Bulls – Traded to the Montreal Impact for (M) Johan Venegas
RD 2: Collen Warner (M), Houston Dynamo
RD 3: Mohammed Saeid (M), Columbus Crew SC
RD 4: Jeff Attinella (GK), Real Salt Lake
RD 5: Femi Hollinger-Janzen (F), New England Revolution

The Loons’ first selection, Duvall, was traded following the conclusion of the Expansion Draft to the Montreal Impact for midfielder Johan Venegas.

“I like his natural ability, his work rate, his energy and enthusiasm – he showed everything that we like against the U.S. only a month ago, I tried to get him for the last two years even when I was in Orlando but we couldn’t get him,” said Heath. “When I first got here, he was one of the things we spoke about and fortunately, we’ve managed to come up with a deal.”

The Costa Rican international has been solid in the middle of the park over the past two seasons for the Impact. Mainly getting work as a sub, Venegas had two goals and an assist in regular season play. He has helped Montreal to back-to-back playoff appearances, including a run to the Eastern Conference Final this past season.

He has played 30 games for the Costa Rican national team since first getting called up in 2014. He has netted six goals for his country so far, including a game-winner over the United States in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.

Warner, a veteran midfielder, was taken in the second round from the Houston Dynamo. The Colorado-native was a workhorse in the midfield for his clubs. He has consistently been a mainstay in the starting lineup over his seven seasons in the league, with three goals and 11 assists to his credit. Warner was out of contract with Houston at the end of the season, and was in the process of negotiating a new contract prior to being selected by Minnesota.

“He had a really good season, we spoke to people who worked with him in Toronto and they couldn’t have spoken any higher about him,” said Heath. “He’s a physical presence and a guy you don’t like to play against. We feel as though we got a really strong piece in Collen to really hold everything together.”

Minnesota picked up another solid midfield player with its third pick in Mohammed Saied. A product of the West Bromwich Albion academy, Saeid played two seasons for Columbus Crew SC after several years in his native Sweden. Occupying the center of the midfield as both an attacking and defending option, Saeid proved to be a versatile option in a rotating Crew SC midfield. He helped Columbus to the MLS Cup Final in 2015, featuring as a late-game sub.

“He’s a really good continuity player from the middle of the field to the top. He makes things happen, he gets in between the lines and is always looking for that downfield ball,” said Heath.

Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was selected in the fourth round by the Loons. Attinella came to MLS in 2013 after a successful career in the NASL, leading the Tampa Bay Rowdies past Minnesota in the 2012 Soccer Bowl. He has proved to be one of the best back up ‘keeper options in the league, with five clean sheets in 29 appearances along with several Saves of the Week.

“You’re looking at a guy who is still growing and can be a really, really good goalkeeper,” said Lagos. “He is someone with a lot of upside who has put in a lot of minutes and time into honing his craft. He is someone that can really help our team.”

The Loons capped off the Expansion draft by selecting forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen form the New England Revolution. The Indiana-native had a stunning rookie season with the Revs, providing energy late in games for the team as well as an occasional goal. Though his club narrowly missed out on the playoffs, Hollinger-Janzen has proved that he is an up-and-coming talent in MLS.

“I’ve seen him quite a bit over the last year and a half, and up close with the New England Revolution last season and he has a huge upside,” said Heath. “I like working with strikers… I’ve done well with them in the past and Femi has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

“All of the players we selected today are 28 years old or younger,” said Director of Player Personnel Amos Magee. “These are guys that are on their way to their prime or hitting their prime, we believe we are in a great position now with a core that is on the rise and that’s another piece we feel great about.”

See the full 2016 Expansion Draft results below:
ATL: Donny Toia (MTL)
MNU: Chris Duvall (NY)-Traded to the Montreal Impact for Johan Venegas
ATL: Zach Loyd (DAL)
MNU: Collen Warner (HOU)
ATL: Clint Irwin (TOR)
MNU: Mohammed Saied (CLB)
ATL: Mikey Ambrose (ORL)
MNU: Jeff Attinella (RSL)
ATL: Alec Kann (SKC)
MNU: Femi Hollinger-Janzen (NE)

JOHAN VENEGAS
Position:
Midfielder
Height: 6-0
Weight: 168 lbs.
Date of Birth: Nov. 27, 1988 (28 years old)
Hometown: Puerto Limón, Costa Rica
Citizenship: Costa Rica
Last Club: Montreal Impact
Acquired: Dec. 13, 2016

COLLEN WARNER
Position:
Midfielder
Height: 5-10
Weight: 178 lbs.
Date of Birth: June 24, 1988 (28 years old)
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Citizenship: United States
Last Club: Houston Dynamo
Acquired: Dec. 13, 2016

MOHAMMED SAEID
Position:
Midfielder
Height: 5-7
Weight: 141 lbs.
Date of Birth: Dec. 24, 1990 (25 years old)
Hometown: Orebro, Sweden
Citizenship: Sweden
Last Club: Columbus Crew SC
Acquired: Dec. 13, 2016

JEFF ATTINELLA
Position:
Goalkeeper
Height: 6-2
Weight: 190 lbs.
Date of Birth: Sept. 29, 1988 (28 years old)
Hometown: Clearwater, Florida
Citizenship: United States
Last Club: Real Salt Lake
Acquired: Dec. 13, 2016

FEMI HOLLINGER-JANZEN
Position:
Forward
Height: 6-0
Weight: 174 lbs.
Date of Birth: Dec. 14, 1993 (22 years old)
Hometown: Goshen, Indiana
Citizenship: United States
Last Club: New England Revolution
Acquired: Dec. 13, 2016