With each day that passes, it becomes more and more likely that Cameron Knowles will remain Minnesota United’s interim head coach when the Loons open the 2024 MLS season at Austin FC on February 24.
In the midst of three preseason games in California, Knowles said Monday he’s taking it one day at a time as new football director Khaled El-Ahmad nears the conclusion of an exhaustive search.
“The message is the same,” Knowles said. “They are conducting a thorough process and looking for the next head coach of the club. I don’t think there’s a set timeline for what that looks like. The staff and I continue to prepare every day.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity to work with the guys,” Knowles continued. “For me, that’s the main goal. I know there’s a very good chance I’ll rejoin the team tomorrow (Tuesday) and our job is to get them ready for this training session and take it one day at a time. We can’t look too far ahead. »
MNUFC will play its second of three friendly matches at the Coachella Valley Invitational against the Chicago Fire at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The Loons will rotate the team from Saturday’s 2-1 win over Phoenix Rising, with prospects Teemu Pukki and Victor Eriksson included in the exhibition.
Swedish central defender Eriksson has just received his work visa and trained with the team for the first time on Monday. Pukki joined the group after the birth of her child in Finland last week.
Still no Reynoso
Star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso limped off the training field in Blaine last Tuesday and did not return to first-team training in California on Monday.
Reynoso and Kervin Arriaga work collaboratively with medical staff, Knowles said.
“We don’t really have a significant update on that,” Knowles said of Reynoso.
Several key pieces of the Loons offense have been scattered this preseason.
Winger Bongi Hlongwane has completed paperwork for his US green card but remains in South Africa and needs a meeting before returning to MNUFC. This absence comes on top of Reynoso and Pukki being out or sidelined for extended periods this winter.
The Loons (1-0-1 in two preseason games) will have more projected starters in their final friendly Saturday against Charlotte FC. The goal will be to prepare as many players as possible to play 90 minutes against Austin a week later. … The Chicago and Charlotte friendlies will be streamed on the club’s website. … First-round pick Hugo Bacharach and third-rounder Morris Duggan will need to receive contract offers to remain with MNUFC for the 2024 season. Duggan has had preseason setbacks and is more uncertain than Bacharach. … Alejandro Bran started in central midfield for the Loons against Phoenix. The Costa Rican loanee was in the middle of the park alongside two projected starters in Hassani Dotson and Robin Lod. “Bran’s effort is good, his ability with the ball has been good as well,” Knowles said. “He’s been a really good addition to the group.” … Sang Bin Jeong played on the right side during preseason camp. … Backup goaltender Clint Irwin is expected to miss weeks, not months, with the groin injury suffered against Montreal on Feb. 27.
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