Minnesota United had three players called up for international duty in Romario Ibarra, Rasmus Schuller, and Francisco Calvo. Their absence against D.C. United provides unique opportunities for others in the squad.
Minnesota United will be without Romario Ibarra, Rasmus Schuller, and Francisco Calvo on September 12th when they take on D.C. United, as all three players have been called up for international duty, Ibarra with Ecuador, Schuller with Finland, and Calvo with Costa Rica, respectively.
Michael Boxall will also miss the D.C. match due to an accumulation suspension. With D.C. in good form, these absences will make what already would have been a tough match an even tougher one.
So, what does all of this mean for the club?
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Well, for one, it all but assures that rookie center-back Wyatt Omsberg will get the start next to Brent Kallman. Omsberg has shown promise in his MLS appearances so far but has also revealed that he needs more experience at the MLS level. The physical gifts are there, but his positioning and decision-making have been a bit suspect at times, which is not all that surprising for a player of his youth and inexperience — with time, it is one’s reading of the game, positional and spatial understanding, and decision-making that improves most drastically.
Omsberg has also spent time in USL this season with the Tulsa Roughnecks, so it will be interesting to see if that helped his development. An opportunity to prove himself at the MLS level is what he really needs, though. That chance should present itself on September 12th against D.C. United.
With Schuller gone, Collin Martin or Fernando Bob are the most likely candidates to start in the midfield. Who gets the nod will likely depend on Bob’s fitness, as he hasn’t played a competitive match since November. If he is fit, you’d have to think that Adrian Heath would give the experienced veteran a start. If he isn’t quite fit, Martin will likely be given the opportunity to anchor the midfield, although Bob may come off the bench late for a taste of MLS action.
Ibarra’s absence will be felt a bit less. The winger hasn’t found his way into the Loons’ Starting XI, yet, and while he has played well in his limited time, his call-up should only affect depth. for now.
However, this does mean good things for Cameroonian international Frantz Pangop, who will likely assume the role of super-sub with Ibarra gone. Pangop had also shown flashes of potential earlier in the season, but his playing time diminished with the July arrival of Ibarra. Pangop has the ability to really open up the attack with his pace and it will be interesting to see if he’ll have an opportunity to do just that when the match frays at the edges a little in the second half as players begin to tire.
The international absences are frustrating and they can hamper the momentum of a club. But for Minnesota, they offer a unique opportunity to provide playing time for younger, depth players who might otherwise not be afforded the chance to play.