Minnesota United players talk expectations for inaugural season

Minnesota United will take the field for a regular season Major League Soccer game in only 43 days, but between now and then it’s about turning their roster on paper into a competitive product on the field.

The United will travel to Arizona early next week to begin training for their first season in MLS. Everyone in the team’s office is excited about the move, but there’s also an expectation to be more than the “new” team in the league.

“We have to navigate how to be competitive and our guys should be excited about it,” Minnesota United Sporting Director Manny Lagos said. “The expectations for expansion teams have not been great in the past, but it’s why we play the sport.”

The first version of the United in MLS will be a mix of new acquisitions and familiar faces. Christian Ramirez, Miguel Ibarra, Kevin Venegas and Justin Davis all played with Minnesota in the NASL and are trying to carry some things from the past into the future.

“Part of what we’ve been doing and building, we’re hoping to translate to MLS,” Venegas said. “We don’t want to start with a clean slate, we want to start with what we had already and build on it.”

Minnesota United have a team goal to prove that they belong in MLS, but many players share that mentality at an individual level too. 

“I’ve been in the NASL for six years and I’ve been itching to make that jump,” Davis said. “I want to see how I do up there, and I think I’ve had success in one league and I believe I can do the same in the other.”

The United will play their first MLS regular season game on March 3 in Portland, and will host their home-opener on March 12 at 4:00 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium.