While Minnesota United fans may be jealously glancing around the league at the barrage of moves that have occurred during the first week of the MLS trade window, Loons’ sporting director Manny Lagos says he’s on his own timeline.
Minnesota have made two relatively low profile moves so far. They picked up veteran fullback Tyrone Mears from Atlanta United in the Re-Entry Draft on Friday, after also trading with Atlanta for Harrison Heath, coach Adrian’s Heath’s son, a week ago.
With all three Designated Player (DP) spots unfilled and a new injection of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) into the league, it’s unclear when and how Minnesota will exercise their spending options. Previously, club officials have expressed confidence that at least one DP will be announced in 2018, but Lagos would not be pressed into assurances on when that might happen.
“We’re not going to put a timeline on that,” he said Friday at a team function.
With the addition of new discretionary TAM for teams, there is a new pressure to see which teams will spend over the league wages. Asked whether he feels confident in the team’s ambition to spend that money, Lagos is bullish, if evasive.
“I feel very good about the ownership knowing that we need to be competitive within the league,” he said. As evidence, he pointed out investment in the team’s training facility and a privately funded stadium to open in 2019.
Lagos says the club is “excited about the core” of the current roster and the 14-15 players they think they can really build off of for 2018. At the same time, he understands there’s only one way to improve upon the Loons’ ninth-place Western Conference finish.
“We want to make sure we’re getting better,” he said.
In bringing in Mears, Lagos believes his club have done that.
“I think we have to be honest that you can’t always have sexy signings,” Lagos said. “Tyrone is steady and we need that.”
At 34-years-old, Mears brings MLS experience to the Loons squad that Lagos says will be important for shoring up a leaky defense.
“We wanted a veteran player that knows the league and Adrian knows Tyrone really well,” Lagos said.
As for Harrison Heath, he comes with a Homegrown Player tag that will allow Minnesota not to count his wages against the salary cap.