ST. PAUL -- Robin Lod serves as an example of a player acquisition that was years in the making, and Minnesota United has been rewarded for its persistence.
The Loons made official the signing of the 26-year-old Finnish midfielder on Tuesday, July 16. Minnesota will use the higher-level MLS budget fund Targeted Allocation Money to bring him in on a multi-year deal.
Financial terms of Lod’s contract were not released, but his salary and transfer fee must be more than $530,000 and less $1.53 million a year, per MLS rules. Lod’s salary won’t be public until the MLS players union releases figures later this year.
The Loons pursued Lod for more than 18 months going back to when he played for Panathinaikos in the Greece’s top league, and they stayed on him after he moved to Sporting Gijon in Spain’s second level last season.
“That is one thing that I think convinced him in the end is the fact that we wouldn’t go away,” United coach Adrian Heath said with a laugh Tuesday. “He’s probably done it to shut us up, stop ringing him up and trying to get him over here. It’s been a long chase, but we are glad that it’s finally over.”
Lod has made 33 appearances for the Finland national team and has played there with current Loons midfielder Rasmus Schuller. Their connection gave the Loons another opportunity to sell Lod on Minnesota.
“I kept probing Ras to go at him,” Heath said.
Lod said the decision to come to Minnesota now was based on the success of the club and the growth of MLS.
“I think they are doing really well,” Lod said after his first training session Tuesday. “I think the MLS and this club is improving really fast, so I’m really happy to be here for this project.”
Lod partnered with Schuller in a soccer-tennis drill Tuesday and shared how their Finnish connection played a role in him coming to Minnesota.
“It helps that there is a familiar face who can tell good things about the club,” Lod said.
Now United will have to be patient a little bit longer. Lod plans to return to Finland in order to complete his immigration paperwork and visa and be present for his wife giving birth to their child.
The club has targeted its U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Portland Timbers on Aug. 7 as a potential debut date for Lod.
“Technically outstanding, combination play, pace,” Heath said about Lod’s qualities. “Two really good feet. Can play both sides. Can play underneath, play through the middle, so I just think he will be a really big piece for us moving forward this year.”
United primarily has played Kevin Molino, Miguel Ibarra and Ethan Finlay as wingers in Heath’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation this season. Lod is expected to vie for a spot there.
On July 8, Heath said there was one acquisition the club expected to announce “in a couple of days, then one of them is probably not as far along as we would have liked.”
On Tuesday, Heath doused cold water on that vague other target. (The Loons also have been in the market for a left back.)
“The one that we were trying to get over the line a couple of weeks ago is dead now,” he said. “But we have had other alternatives, other options, and we are pursuing them quite vigorously at the moment because every day is important now because obviously the window is open but we’ve still got a lot of stuff to do, paperwork, visas, etc. The sooner we can get a player signed, the sooner he can be available for selection.”
The summer transfer window closes Aug. 7, and the regular season finishes three weeks earlier this season, with finales on Oct. 6.