Finnish midfielder Rasmus Schuller is going home to Finland.
For a few months, at least.
Minnesota United will loan out Schuller to Helsinki-based club Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi from Finland's top division, the Finnish club confirmed. The Finnish national team member played for the club from 2012-15.
Schuller was one of three players United used targeted allocation money to sign ahead of this inaugural Major League Soccer season, along with center-backs Francisco Calvo and Vadim Demidov. While all three began the season as starters, only Calvo retained that spot. The club has been working on moving Demidov out for several weeks now, with no success yet.
Schuller played only seven matches, with four starts, for United. His most recent appearance was June 17 and most recent start April 15. While poor performance dropped him from the lineup after the first three matches of the season, injuries – including hip flexor and thigh problems – then hampered every comeback.
"The last couple months have been really frustrating for him, gets himself nearly fit, he's been training really well and then he breaks down," coach Adrian Heath said. "And the fact that Ibson and [Sam] Cronin have sort of solidified that position [in the midfield], we don't want this last third of the season to sort of taper away for him.
"So the opportunity came to loan him back, and we just think for him to get his mind right, for him to get a lot of minutes under his belt and get his confidence back and get himself back here in December getting ready for a new year – he knows where he's coming to, he knows his teammates – we think that's the best thing for him moving forward."
United's director of player personnel, Amos Magee, reiterated that Schuller "is a player [the Loons] still believe in." They are looking forward to seeing him back ahead of the 2018 season "refreshed and ready to be the player" they expected him to be when they signed him, Magee said.
Schuller's departure opens up a senior roster spot for winger Ethan Finlay, whom United officially announced Wednesday before the end of the transfer window that night.
Finlay comes to the Loons in a trade with the Columbus Crew SC in exchange for a combination of general allocation money and targeted allocation money - $100,000 in targeted allocation money this season as well as $250,000 in targeted allocation money and $75,000 in general allocation money in the 2018 season. A source close to the team said in order for United to be salary cap compliant this year, Columbus is holding a portion of Finlay's $290,000 salary, and United will pay that portion back to Columbus next year with money that will be available then. So the allocation money in the deal will come off as $425,000 but is actually $300,000.
Heath said he talked to Finlay on Tuesday night and could tell the Duluth-born, Wisconsin-raised midfielder was excited about the move.
"Very dynamic, full of running, full of energy, great enthusiasm," Heath said of Finlay. "I think he will be just what we've been looking for. It's a kid that I've tried to probably buy or take over the last three or four years. I tried to do it twice in Orlando, couldn't do it. Always asked Gregg [Berhalter, Columbus coach] to keep us informed if his situation changed. And I just think he's going to be a great piece for us, a great addition, great professional. And the other thing is, we certainly didn't have to sell Minnesota to him. He's from up the road, and he's really looking forward to getting back home and playing here.
"This isn't LA. This isn't New York. People come here because they want to be here," Heath said. "And I know a couple clubs that he had the opportunity to talk to, didn't want to talk to them. Decided he wanted to come straight here."
Finlay is the second winger added during this transfer window, along with Sam Nicholson from Scotland. Having Nicholson and Finlay on the wings with midfielder Kevin Molino at the playmaker No. 10 role could be the new starting lineup for United. But Heath said more importantly, the addition of more attacking players just increases the competition for playing time.
United has added five players during this transfer window in Finlay, Nicholson, New Zealand defender Michael Boxall, goalkeeper Alex Kapp and forward Brandon Allen, who is on loan from the New York Red Bulls.
The Loons have seen two departures in recent weeks, Schuller and Swedish goalkeeper John Alvbage, whose loan expired July 23. And a source close to the team said winger Bashkim Kadrii, who is on loan currently from FC Copenhagen, will likely be on his way out soon, too, on loan again to a club whose transfer window is still open once this MLS window closes.
"We've still got an awful lot of work to do moving forward," Heath said. "The squad's certainly not as complete as I would like it and not as competitive as I would like it. But this is a work in progress. We know that."