Four intriguing Loons in line for more playing time in U.S. Open Cup or St. Patrick’s friendly

Minnesota United head coach Eric Ramsay is not treating Wednesday’s exhibition game against Irish club St. Patrick’s as just another friendly on Wednesday night at Allianz Field.

Ramsay is only in his second week on the job and is still learning about his team. He wants players to take advantage of the opportunity to be in a competitive context, which will, in turn, help him further assess his new squad.

“I think the opposition will be decent, so it’s a really good chance for us to approach it as though it’s a proper game,” Ramsay said.

Ramsay will not have a full roster at his disposal, with six players away on international duties: Teemu Pukki and Robin Lod (Finland), Michael Boxall (New Zealand), Dayne St. Clair (Canada), Joseph Rosales (Honduras) and Alejandro Bran (Costa Rica).

Plus, Loons star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso is currently away from the team while the Argentine works on his U.S. green card.

The friendly will be played at the exact same time, 7 p.m. Wednesday, as MNUFC2 will compete against Chicago House in the U.S. Open Cup first-round game in Elmhurst, Ill.

“This is a really messy week to deal with,” Ramsay said.

Ramsay, who arrived from Manchester United, wanted to “reserve comment” about MLS’ decision to limit the amount of first-team clubs in the Open Cup this year. Since joining MLS in 2017, this is the first time in non-pandemic seasons that MNUFC’s first team is not competing in the national tournament.

“I’m not familiar enough with the history and the ins and outs of it and I’m sure the club has a stance on how they see things planning out in the coming years, but I’m in a position where I want to value all competitions that the club plays in,” Ramsay said. “If the second team go and play in the U.S. Open Cup, we are going to play to win and support them how we can and how we can construct the squads. I think this week is an anomaly with two games. It’s a really difficult situation for everyone to deal with.”

For the Open Cup, the Loons will loan only one player to their second team: forward Jordan Adebayo-Smith.

Here’s are four players who might get an extended opportunity to play on Wednesday:

Victor Eriksson

The Loons signed the 23-year-old Swedish center back in January, but immigration paperwork issues and the starting duo of Boxall and Tapias limited his opportunities to play in the first four MLS games.

With Boxall gone, the 6-foot-4 Eriksson is in line for more playing time against St. Patrick’s.

“Very physically imposing, very aggressive,” Ramsay said. “It’s, again, difficult to evaluate properly without having seen him in a game and seeing him at a point where he has enough minutes under his belt. The oddities in coming from Sweden to here and the way in which the signing process worked means he hasn’t played for an awful long time. … To put it bluntly, I’m not expecting a great deal from him (Wednesday). But there is obvious promise there.”

Moses Nyeman

Ramsay had a few-minute post-training session chat with the 20-year-old central midfielder on Tuesday.

“I just wanted him to know he’s an important part of what we want to do here,” Ramsay said. “I really liked watching him in this session. He has a lot of qualities that he can bring to the table.”

Nyeman, who was born in Liberia, debuted for D.C. United at age 15 in 2019 and has also been a part of SK Beveren in Belgium and with Real Salt Lake and its second team, Real Monarchs.

“He has had a really interesting path to get to this point,” Ramsay said. “I know it hasn’t quite worked out for him at various stages in his career, but he is still incredibly young. He’s always been from what I gather, high potential. Hopefully there are some ingredients, if we knit them together, can be important player for the club.”

Jordan Adebayo-Smith

On draft day in January, the Loons traded with New England Revolution for the 22-year-old center forward. He has shown why MNUFC wanted him.

In MLS, Adebayo-Smith contributed a secondary assist on Bongi Hlongwane’s game-winning goal at Orlando City two weeks ago and scored the lone goal in MNUFC2’s 4-1 loss to LAFC2 on Sunday. Nyeman helped create the scoring chance.

“His movement was really good (on Sunday),” MNUFC2 head coach Jeremy Hall said Tuesday. “He will probably be a little bit disappointed with himself to not finish a couple more chances, but his movement is there and he’s going to continue to get chances. Then it’s about being clinical.”

Darius Randell

One of the academy players who will be in the mix against Chicago House is 16-year-old winger Darius Randell. His high-end speed is his greatest attribute.

“He’s still a young player,” said Hall, who was a MNUFC2 assistant in 2022-23. “Last year, having him in the group with the second team, he showed glimpses of what he can do. He still needs some work. He’s still a bit raw, but we are excited about him.”

Randell is expected to have a bigger role within MNUFC2 this season.


Incoming assistant coach Dennis Lawrence has visited the Trinidad and Tobago embassy in the U.K. and the hope is he can join MNUFC by Monday. The Loons are off from MLS play this weekend. …Goalkeeper Fred Emmings is sidelined with a concussion; he suffered the injury during training last week. The St. Paul goalkeeper has a history with concussions. … New MNUFC2 defender Finn McRobb, whose signing was announced last week, needs visa to be eligible to play. At least one more MNUFC2 signing has yet to be announced. … United’s Under-15 attacking midfielder Hector Cruz participated in the U.S. Soccer identification camp in Atlanta last week. … Left back Derek Dodson was injured in the MNUFC2 loss Sunday. He is out Wednesday. … Right back Jonah Gasho, a member of the U19 team, started vs. LAFC2 and will be a part of the MNUFC2 roster on Wednesday. The St. Paul native has signed to play college soccer at Nebraska Omaha.