After months of searching, Minnesota United seems to have found that elusive defensive midfielder to fill the most prominent hole in the Loons’ lineup.
Fernando Bob officially joined the team Tuesday, the club announced, after training the past week with the club. The 30-year-old Brazilian has played for eight clubs at various levels in Brazil since beginning as a pro in 2006, most recently for top-flight club Associacao Atletica Ponte Preta.
Because Bob is out of contract, United could sign him past the transfer window deadline, with the roster freeze date not until Sept. 14.
United coach Adrian Heath said he had followed Bob since he first played for Ponte Preta about four years ago. The coach tried unsuccessfully to do the deal then for his former club Orlando City SC. Bob ended up going to Sport Club Internacional in what Heath qualified as a “big-money move.”
“This opportunity, I think, came at the right time for everybody,” Heath said. “We think it’s a position that is going to be more and more important for us moving forward the way we want to play. And the fact that he was free, I think it’s a, we’ll take the contract until the end of the season with a view to moving on, I think it’s something that we couldn’t afford not to do because certainly the quality is there. He’s a great passer of the ball. Very strong. Very physical. Typical Brazilian guy, loves to play.”
Unlike United’s most recent signing in striker Angelo Rodriguez, Bob will not be at the designated player level. But his No. 6 position is one United has struggled to fill since Sam Cronin’s concussion issues, which have sidelined him all season and kept him back at home in Denver to recover.
Fellow Brazilian Maximiano, who joined the Loons ahead of the season, is also a true No. 6, but the 23-year-old has only played in six games with one start this season. He’s recently dealt with a knee injury in his same right knee he tore his ACL in a year ago.
Heath said Maximiano should return to full training this week. In United’s 4-2-3-1 formation, Rasmus Schuller took on more of that defensive role. In the 3-5-2 formation, Collen Warner has won the job of the defensive midfielder, despite that not quite being his natural position.
Heath has said many times one of his biggest concerns with this team is not having enough competition for playing time. He thinks this move will help with that dynamic.
“Maxi’s going to have to fight for his place, like Collen Warner is and Collen Warner has done,” Heath said. “Now we’ve got more competition for that position.”