MNUFC’s breakthrough season has all-too familiar end
Minnesota United fans knew their favorite team was getting a new nest in 2019, but no one knew for sure what kind of team to expect.
On the backside of a 2-1 playoff opening loss to L.A. Galaxy, I think most MNUFC fans would agree that while the loss hurts, the future is bright.
With the exception of the Minnesota Lynx, and this year the St. Paul Saints, playoff success remains elusive for most Minnesota sports teams.
Despite controlling play and having the better scoring chances, a five-minute span in the second half basically ended Minnesota United’s season with the 2-1 playoff loss to L.A. Galaxy.
Last off-season’s emphasis on acquiring defense and an instant homefield advantage helped turn MNUFC into a playoff team. Now comes another off-season, where this time, Manny Lagos and Amos McGee will go back into the lab to try to figure out how to help emerging offensive talent like Mason Toye and Hassani Dotson continue to develop.
It was a season that ended all to suddenly, but instead of dwelling on what wasn’t, I find great pleasure in thinking about what a fun season it was and looking forward to next year.
Gophers ranked #17, schedule less daunting
Even the most optimistic Gopher Football fan has to be thrilled by how this season continues to play out.
As the team continues to improve, they return to TCF Bank Stadium 7-0, and ranked #17 in the latest AP Top 25, to host Maryland, while the other teams on their remaining schedule seem to be sliding in the opposite direction.
6th-ranked and unbeaten Penn State needed a dropped TD pass to hold off Michigan at home. Iowa struggled to escape an upset bid by Purdue, Northwestern got crushed by Ohio State, and in case you missed it, previously unbeaten Wisconsin, a 30.5 point favorite, lost at Illinois.
Coach Fleck keeps imploring his players to take it one game at a time, and since they’ve lost to Maryland the last two years, I won’t look past the Terps either. But, the stage is set, and those predicting a Gopher swoon in November may be in for a bit of a surprise.
Vikes escape Lions den, bumpy Rhodes ahead.
Success against the pass depends as much on the pass rush as it does defense of the pass, but the Vikings cornerbacks are a mess, and none more so than 2013 first-rounder Xavier Rhodes.
Rhodes is publicly suffering a crisis of confidence, so now he basically mugs the receiver across from him on every play… Every. Play.
After getting flagged for pass interference while getting beat for a touchdown against Detroit, Rhodes took off his helmet and threw it while on his way to sulk on the bench.
The problem? The Lions were going for a 2-point conversion and Rhodes, our highest paid cornerback, wasn’t on the field to defend it.
Second year player Mike Hughes, our first-round pick in 2018, yet coming off season-ending knee surgery, subbed for Rhodes and broke up the pass.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said in the off-season that Rhodes had to play up to his 5-year, $70 million dollar contract.
He’s not, it’s a problem, and I don’t think it’s going to get any better. If I’m Vikings GM Rick Spielman, I’m looking hard at the escape clause in Rhodes’ contract, and I don’t extend Trae Waynes either. In the meantime, Vikings fans had better hope the D-line can put a lot of pressure on the other teams’ QBs.
Saints, CHS Field attracting MLB?
A report by J.J. Cooper that was published on Friday, October 18 in Baseball America, suggests, among other things, that St. Paul’s unaffiliated Saints have drawn the interest of Major League Baseball.
The story, which rivals the Mueller report in terms of length and detail, says, essentially, that Major League owners want a new Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between MLB and their minor league teams. The current deal expires at the end of the 2020 season, and the owners see the current deal as too costly and inefficient (see: too expensive).
According to Cooper, more than three dozen cities with minor league affiliates would lose their teams and a lot of minor leaguers would lose their jobs.
One item worth noting is that St. Paul’s CHS Field and the Saints organization have apparently not gone unnoticed. Cooper writes, “The proposal even suggests a pair of independent league clubs—in St. Paul, Minn., and Sugar Land, Texas—would be brought into affiliated ball.”
Right now this could just be fodder for negotiations yet to come, but the thought of the Twins having a minor league affiliate over on St. Paul is fun to imagine, and one that for now at least, is a possibility.