Minnesota United host a number of stars that could pose a threat to the start of Aston Villa’s pre-season.
Words by Regan Foy | @FindFoy
Minnesota United are currently underway in their season and enjoying a seven match unbeaten run as they come into Aston Villa’s first pre-season friendly – a tough test to start with for the Midland’s side.
The Western Conference side have scored 27 goals in their unbeaten run, whilst only conceding eight goals. Granted, seven of the goals that the midwestern side scored came against MLS new boys FC Cincinnati, and another six came against Second Division side New Mexico United in the U.S Open Cup Quarter Final.
Affectionately known as The Loons (based on the aquatic bird on their crest, not their personalities), Minnesota United was founded four years ago and joined Major League Soccer in March of 2017.
As it stands, Minnesota have all of the momentum coming into this game, sitting 4th in their league set-up, whilst relatively, Aston Villa have none. John McGinn said it when interviewed at Allianz Field during United’s 1-0 win against FC Dallas on Sunday, that is was due to be a real test for the Villa boys.
Whilst to us, the vast majority of the Aston Villa side are stars, Minnesota United have an arsenal of their own for the Villans to contend with, and we’re going to take a short look at who the side need to look out for.
The former Arsenal trainee is currently contracted to Reading FC of the Sky Bet Championship, but has spent the last five months on loan at Minnesota.
Now 31-years-old, the goalkeeper is arguably in the prime of his career.
He has appeared 23 times for The Loons, and conceded 33 goals out of 113 shots that he has faced, meaning that 29% of shots against Mannone were scored by the opposition.
Interestingly, Mannone is adept at gathering a ball from the air – coming to collect ten times so far this season – and not failing to do so once.
Signed from FC Kobenhavn this year, Ján Greguš has adapted to life well in Minnesota.
One of the side’s prime creators, Greguš has appeared 19 times for the side this season in all competitions – scoring three goals and assisting in four.
The midfielder is an accurate passer, with 88% of his short passes finding their intended target, and adept at dribbling, managing to ensure 70% of his dribbles this season have been successful.
Forward Ángelo Rodríguez has been an important part of The Loons squad this season, playing 23 times and scoring nine goals, whilst assisting four – in all competitions.
The 5ft 11″ attacker has managed to assist his team-mates 16 times this season by taking a shot that the goalkeeper has had to parry.
Compared to some of his team-mates, Rodríguez can be a relatively poor dribbler and could struggle against the height of Aston Villa’s defence with an Aerial Duel success rate of only 19%.
The 5ft 5″ forward holds a place in Minnesota history – scoring the clubs first-ever hat-trick in 2018.
This season he’s scored 11 goals and assisted five in 21 appearances – but managed fewer shots on target and fewer touches in the box than his peer Rodríguez.
He makes a high number of quality runs beyond his man, so the pacey forward could cause an issue for our defence.