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We are only seven games into Eric Ramsay's tenure as Minnesota United coach, but we're starting to be able to paint a numerical picture of what kind of team he wants the Loons to be. And while the numbers help describe it, if you had to use a single word, it would be one that the coach himself uses all the time: pragmatic.

The numbers say that the Loons are big on field position, defense and playing fast when they get the ball on offense. They haven't done much in terms of intricate build-up play; since Ramsay took over, the Loons rank 25th of 29 MLS teams in passes from open play per match, according to league data provider Sportec.

Since the beginning of the season, according to data from Opta, the Loons are 26th in passes per sequence and the number of passing sequences that saw them string 10 or more passes together.

They are, however, one of the most direct teams. The Loons are tied for seventh in MLS this season in how fast the ball moves down the field once they do get it. And they will try to win the ball back as soon as possible: they rank eighth in "passes per defensive action," a measure of how many passes the opposition makes before the Loons can get the ball. They are also fifth in the number of high-pressing turnovers they have caused.

One of the key places you can see this directness is, paradoxically, when the ball is as far from the goal as possible.

Per, Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair has launched the second-most long passes (defined as 40 yards or longer) in MLS. Even if you remove old-school, boot-it-long goal kicks, St. Clair has gone for a long ball on more than half of his passes — third-most in the league.

It's a big change from last season, when the Loons ranked in the league's bottom 10 in both categories.

Ramsay was at pains to separate how the Loons play starting with the keeper, from how they play in general. "Goal kicks are the point at which the opposition is most organized, and most set to press," he said. "It's often counterproductive to play immediately into their hands. That doesn't mean to say that when you have the ball in general play, you're going to be a team that endlessly looks for the space in behind."

Sportec's numbers back him up on this. Just considering passes from open play, since Ramsay took over, the Loons are in the bottom quarter of the league for long passes per match.

The seeming problem with the Loons' efforts, though, is that only 27% of the long balls from St. Clair have ended in a completed pass, the sixth-worst margin in the league. But according to both coach and keeper, that completion percentage doesn't tell the whole story.

"It's not about me necessarily connecting the first pass, but putting the ball in a good area that our guys can go and fight for it," St. Clair said. "Obviously the fans give me a little bit of stick for that. It's part of what the coaching staff has asked me to do."

Ramsay stressed that the idea is to get the ball into the right area, and then be organized enough to win a second ball and then build from there.

"I think it's very difficult to get clean completed passes from those situations, but what you can get is territory, and you can find yourself up the pitch relatively quickly," he said. "And then if in a strategic way you can be picking second balls up and organizing your shape from those situations, then you can capitalize on those moments without them looking too clean."

The durable Wil Trapp

"The best ability is availability," the old saying goes — and if that's true, then Wil Trapp has all the ability he needs.

Trapp, whom the Loons re-signed in the offseason, has started all 10 games this season, giving the 31-year-old 12 consecutive seasons with double-digit league starts. He is only the 18th midfielder or forward in MLS history to manage that.

"He brings a million things to the table," Ramsay said. "I don't want to underplay his level by talking about personality and character and coachability and running. That's a big part of what he does, but he's obviously a really good player and really good on the ball."

The Loons have shifted to playing two central midfielders instead of three, giving Trapp and a midfield partner more ground to cover both offensively and defensively. Last week's 2-1 victory at Atlanta was the third game with five defenders, and also the third game in a row that Trapp — who leads the team this season in running distance — has covered more than 7½ miles during a game.

"His level of physical output is incredible, and that's a testament to how well he's looked after himself and the physical nature of his makeup," Ramsay said.

Trapp credits his offseason work and the work he does between matches, in terms of being ready to play — and true to form, he missed Thursday's training session after receiving what Ramsay described as a "routine injection."

As you might expect, though, the veteran is focused on the game plan and not the running. "Yes, it seems like more running; it probably was more running," he said. "But that's just the nature of how we wanted to approach the match."