Minnesota United's 2023 season is done too soon and 2024 fast approaches for a club that must hire a general manager and new coach who will decide contract options, navigate free-agent signings and draft college players, among many other things.
The new hires will replace Adrian Heath and technical director Mark Watson after both were fired Oct. 6, late in the season, as the Loons went on to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
Loons CEO Shari Ballard will hire a GM presumably titled Chief Soccer Officer as soon as possible in the coming weeks. She'll decide in consultation with owner Bill McGuire, chief development officer Manny Lagos, part-owner Ben Grossman, assistant technical director Hank Stebbins and interim head coach Sean McAuley.
GM candidates in and out of MLS have been interviewed and the field narrowed since the Loons' season ended Oct. 21 in Kansas City. The GM then is expected to hire the new coach.
"It's my job to make sure we have a good search process and that we have the right candidates and right people as we move forward," Ballard said when Heath was fired.
Ballard said the club will "spend our money thoughtfully and wisely" in a MLS that is growing more expensive for player salaries and transfer fees by the year.
McAuley coached last season's final two games on an interim basis.
The new general manager and coach will inherit a roster that has star midfielder and designated player Emanuel Reynoso, young strikers Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Sang Bin Jeong signed through 2026 with team options as well as veteran scorer Teemu Pukki through 2025.
Versatile veteran Robin Lod is due back from season-ending knee surgery, and Medina's Caden Clark is arriving for the next two seasons on loan from RB Leipzig in Germany.
Lagos is becoming the club's first Chief Development Officer, meant to develop commercial and business opportunities and serve as a senior technical advisor. That clears the way for new general manager to be titled Chief Soccer Officer as well.
Here are some important dates to remember for the new guys on the job:
Nov. 22: Loons must submit in writing to league "all bona fide offers" to players. Clubs playing in the conference semifinals must submit offers the day after their last game.
Dec. 1: Clubs must publicly name and submit to MLS which players' options will be exercised for 2024 and which will not. The Loons have options on Hondurans Joseph Rosales and Kervin Arriaga and veterans Michael Boxall and Ján Gregus. Boxall said he wasn't worried and would take the situation a day at a time. "Everything else will take care of itself down the road," he said.
Dec. 6-9: The fourth annual MLS College Showcase will be held in Phoenix so clubs' technical staffs can scout top collegiate prospects for the upcoming draft.
Dec. 9: The 2023 season will officially come to an end with the MLS Cup final.
Dec. 11: After a three-month roster freeze, MLS clubs can make trades with other MLS teams starting at 8 a.m.
Dec. 12: End-of-year waivers are conducted in reverse order of 2023 season finish. Players who do not meet requirements for free agency or re-entry are eligible to be claimed in a 48-hour window starting at 4 p.m.
Dec. 13: Free agency opens. Clubs can negotiate with players from other MLS teams who are out of contract or had their option declined and are at least 24 years old with a minimum of five years' service.
Dec. 19: The three-round SuperDraft this year will include an expanded eligible player pool to include college sophomores and juniors as well seniors.
Early January: Players report for preseason training, just one month after the MLS Cup final.
Late February: The 2024 MLS season begins.