Minnesota United opens 2022 training camp at National Sports Center

Minnesota United played L.A. Galaxy to a 3-3 draw on Sunday and earned its third straight trip to the MLS Playoffs. ((credit: Minnesota United))

A new season with the same high expectations unofficially started on Monday for Minnesota United with the first day of training camp at National Sports Center.

The Loons are coming off a 13-12-10 season in 2021 which also featured the franchise’s third straight trip to the Major League Soccer Playoffs. It's been just two months since Minnesota United’s season ended in a 3-1 loss at the Portland Timbers.

The Loons will spend their first few days in Blaine training before heading to Florida to get camp in full swing. Coach Adrian Heath has plenty of new faces to mesh together before the season starts. Veterans Ozzie Alonzo, Jan Gregus and Ethan Finlay are gone. Gregus signed with the San Jose Earthquakes, Alonso signed with Atlanta United in free agency and Finlay left the Loons for Austin FC.

"We know we’ve lost some good players and we’ve lost some experienced players. We’ve got to replace that," Heath said Monday. "We’re active on two or three fronts at this moment in time and if we can get the players that we’ve identified and that we’re down the road with, then we’ll be pleased with the offseason.

"At the end of the day, the results will prove whether the decisions we've made in the offseason are the right ones, as it is with every team in the league," Heath added.

The Loons do bring back veterans like Hassani Dotson, Robin Lod, Adrien Hunou, Will Trapp, Emanuel Reynoso, Franco Fragapane, Chase Gasper and Romain Metanire. Lod led Minnesota United with nine goals, and Reynoso led the Loons with 10 assists. Lod, Hunou, Fragapane and Reynoso are also Minnesota United’s top four scorers from last season.

Heath said as many as five players are in COVID-19 protocols as the team starts training camp. That’s a group that includes Reynoso and Hunou. Lod is expected to join the team in Florida after fulfilling military duty in Finland.

One of the highlights of the first day of training camp is the beep test, where players are put through a multiple stage fitness test to determine their oxygen levels under duress. Monday’s winner? Will Trapp.

"It’s always nice when one of your best pros, a great professional, comes in and he’s there with all the younger ones at the end. It doesn’t surprise me, he looks after himself 12 months of the year, in tip-top condition at all times," Heath said.

Minnesota United will train for about a week in Blaine before heading south at the end of the month. They’ll play friendlies against Chicago on Jan. 29, and Orlando on Feb. 3. The 2022 regular season starts Feb. 26 at the Philadelphia Union. The Loon’s home opener will be March 5 against Nashville.