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Loons see transfer windows as portals to youth

D.C. United forward Lucas Rodriguez (11) controls the ball as Minnesota United midfielder Rasmus Schuller (20) and defender Eric Miller (4) defend in the second half Sunday, April 28, at Allianz Field in St. Paul. Nick Wosika / USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota United has the second-oldest roster in MLS this season, so youth must be a target going forward.

Focused on making the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, the Loons added veterans this offseason, but they’re also laying the groundwork to bring in young reinforcements.

United players’ average age is 27.04 years, the 23rd oldest team ahead of only the Seattle Sounders at 27.16, according to mlssoccer.com data. Minnesota (4-3-2) will play Seattle (5-1-2) to conclude a three-game homestand at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 1, at Allianz Field.

The primary MLS transfer window is closing Tuesday, and United sporting director Manny Lagos said it gets increasingly difficult to deal during the window. That didn’t stop him last year, however. Minnesota traded winger Sam Nicholson to Colorado for fullback Eric Miller just as the primary window closed.

Miller, of Woodbury, has been Minnesota’s starting left back in the past two games, the club’s first consecutive shutouts since joining MLS.

The more active summer transfer window runs from July 7-Aug. 7, and early last July the Loons added their second Designated Player in striker Angelo Rodriguez in a transfer from a Colombian club, plus attacker Romario Ibarra in a separate transfer from an Ecuadorian club.

In the summer window two years ago, the Loons signed New Zealand defender Michael Boxall and traded for winger Ethan Finlay from Columbus Crew.

“The next three to six windows, we’re laying groundwork,” Lagos said. “There is definitely the short term with this summer window to really address (overall needs), and obviously the long term.”

For context, United is still not far removed from privately financing Allianz Field ($250 million) and its MLS expansion fee ($100 million), as well as costs to improve the club’s training grounds at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.

“We are still absorbing the positives of our stadium, but we are also absorbing big resources of the club that went to getting the stadium built,” Lagos said.

BAD LUCK

During Wednesday’s training session, Loons midfielder Jan Gregus had a few shots sail over the net and a chain-link fence before landing in the players’ parking lot. One errant shot damaged a car.

Gregus’ ball, in fact, hit the passenger rear-view side mirror of his own black Ford Explorer.

“Ain’t parking next to you anymore Jan,” Loons goalkeeper Vito Mannone tweeted.

EMMINGS TO LUXEMBOURG

Minnesota United youth academy goalkeeper Fred Emmings of St. Paul has been invited to tryout for the Luxembourg Under-16 team during its training camp from Aug. 25-Sept. 6.

Emmings, 6-foot-4, was called into U.S. U15 camp in January 2018 but has not received subsequent call-ups with the U.S. He has dual citizenship and was spotted by Luxembourg scouts during United’s trip to Germany in February. They played at Bundesliga’s FC Schalke 04 and also met U.S. national team player Christian Pulisic during a visit to Borussia Dortmund.

BRIEFLY

Darwin Quintero, who suffered an ankle injury in Sunday’s 1-0 win over D.C. United, began Wednesday’s training session with the rest of the Loons players but left after a goal-scoring drill. He returned in tennis shoes to watch its conclusion. … Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan had his red card rescinded from Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Los Angeles FC, meaning his accompanying one-game suspension is removed and he’s eligible to play Saturday. … United has welcomed officials from the German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen to Minnesota. Former Werder captain Clemens Fritz will tour facilities and meet with Loons staff through the end of the week.