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Loons’ Adrian Heath considering more lineup changes going into LAFC match

Minnesota United will play its ninth different starting lineup in the season’s ninth game on Sunday

MLS: Chicago Fire at Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United midfielder Kervin Arriaga (33) leads the celebration with forward Abu Danladi (18) defender Bakaye Dibassy (12) and forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane (21) after scoring against the Chicago Fire on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports
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Minnesota United will play its ninth different starting lineup in the season’s ninth game on Sunday at Los Angeles FC.

It’s a testament to the Loons’ roster depth to be able to go through that much turnover — both forced and elective changes — and still sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with a 4-2-2 record and 14 points.

Captain midfielder Wil Trapp’s card-accumulation suspension will guarantee yet another starting XI for manager Adrian Heath in the nationally televised game, but how second-half subs and formation tinkering have produced five late goals in across the previous two wins begs the question:

Will Heath make changes to the Loons’ attack from the opening whistle against first-place LAFC?

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Heath, of course, wasn’t going to give new LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo the Loons’ lineup just yet, but Robin Lod’s presence as a false nine, with Bongi Hlongwane and Abu Danladi as change-of-pace wingers worked well against both Colorado and Chicago.

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“I have to decide whether this weekend is the time to maybe change it,” Heath said Thursday. “It won’t be a decision that is taken lightly.”

Hlongwane had two assists in the 3-0 win over Chicago on Saturday, and Danladi scored his first goal of the season in the 3-1 win over Colorado on April 16.

“I can’t say they haven’t helped us when they’ve come on,” Heath said. “But sometimes people go, ‘Well, keep it like that.’ Well, it doesn’t work like that. Because maybe what we’ve done prior to that has given them the opportunity.”

Transfer window

Don’t look for MNUFC to seek an addition at right fullback before the MLS primary transfer window closes Wednesday.

While Hassani Dotson was lost to a season-ending knee injury last week and 32-year-old Romain Metanire has played only 22 minutes with a nagging hamstring, this is why the Loons added veteran right back Oniel Fisher in the preseason.

Metanire, who is expected to remain out for two or three more weeks, jogged on the side of training session Thursday. Dotson is expected to have surgery on his torn anterior cruciate ligament and damaged meniscus this week.

With Dotson done for the rest of 2022, the club will be able to open a senior roster spot; the club has also maintained one vacant international roster slot since preseason.

Briefly

Goalkeeper Fred Emmings is in Carson, Calif., this week training with the U.S. under-19 youth national team. The homegrown player from St. Paul was one of four goalkeepers and 34 total players called into the U.S. camp. He previously represented the U.S. and Luxembourg youth national teams. The U.S., of course, would be the preferred choice. … The Loons’ 14 points would be good for a second-place tie if they were in the Eastern Conference. … LAFC (6-1-1, 19 points) is unbeaten in four home games (3-0-1). … Three MNUFC developmental team members have been spotted in training with the first team this week: attackers Diogo Pacheco and Emmanuel Iwe on Tuesday and defender Devin Padelford on Thursday. … Danladi missed Wednesday’s training for personal reasons but was back in action Thursday. … Defender Callum Montgomery has been progressing in his rehab.

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