Revealing some direction for Minnesota United’s roster in 2024

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Minnesota United’s plans for 2024 are starting to come into focus.

As the Loons await the arrival of new Chief Soccer Officer Khaled El-Ahmad in early January, the club’s current group of leaders, with assistance of El-Ahmad in England, have identified areas of the roster they would like to reinforce in the short term and when they plan to go bigger with its vacant Designated Player slot.

Before the 2024 season, MNUFC will look to add pieces along its back line — center back and left back — and bring in a defensive midfielder, the Pioneer Press understands.

These are the obvious areas of need on the current roster after contract decisions were announced Dec. 1.

The club has been encouraged by recent negotiations with current starting defensive midfielder Wil Trapp, a source said Tuesday. If Trapp were to come back next season, it would be below the $850,000 guaranteed compensation he received last year, per the MLS Players’ Association.

Trapp, who will be 31 in January, is set to become a free agent on Wednesday afternoon. Trapp has been the club captain for years and played 2,419 minutes across 30 MLS matches last season.

The Loons need depth at center back behind starters Michael Boxall and Micky Tapias, and they must figure out what they will do at left back, with Joseph Rosales and Bakaye Dibassy filling in that role toward the end of last season. To start this month, the Loons declined Dibassy’s contract option for next season but exercised the option for Rosales, primarily a central midfielder.

The club does not see Ethan Bristow and Mikael Marques as current solutions, and the plan is for those younger players to go out on loan in 2024.

The biggest roster decision on Dec. 1 was the club declining the contract option for underwhelming DP striker Mender Garcia in 2024. This is a shift from former manager Adrian Heath’s previous plan to bring Garcia back for 2024, but buy him down from the DP slot.

Cutting ties with Garcia all together opened up a DP spot for the Loons to use now, but fans shouldn’t expect a splash in the window this winter.

With El-Ahmad leaving his current English club Barnsley on Friday and expected to start in Minnesota within weeks, the Loons expect to use that DP spot during the summer transfer window. Where they might look to go with the DP spot will be outlined based on results and needs in the first half of the season.

Draft plans

The club will set up its “war room” at Allianz Field for the MLS draft at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Leaders around that table are expected to be interim technical director Hank Stebbins, interim head coach Sean McAuley, CSO Manny Lagos as well as Amos Magee and Cameron Knowles.

After missing the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2023, the Loons will have the ninth overall pick and plan to use it on a player.

It will be the first time MNUFC has a top 10 pick since they selected goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair seventh overall in 2019.


The Loons will head to Mexico for a preseason trip in late January to early February. They are scheduled to play three friendlies south of the border. The team will then head to California for three matches in the Coachella Valley Invitational in mid-February. … MNUFC is also expected to loan out forward Patrick Weah for a second consecutive season. … The draft order is based on the club’s finish in the Supporters Shield standings a season ago; the Loons (10-13-11, 41 points) ended up 21st in the 29-team league.

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