Minnesota United heads into a winter longer than it had hoped or expected, looking both to upgrade a roster with finite salary-cap space and an elusive search for consistency.
The Loons couldn't find the latter in Sunday's 3-1 first-round playoff loss at Portland, nor could they in a season that started 0-4 but still ended with their third consecutive postseason appearance.
Veteran defensive midfielder Wil Trapp called Sunday's loss "a little bit of a microcosm of the season, right? Ultimately, we didn't come out where we wanted to be. The reasons for it, I don't have the exact answer why inconsistency was in the mix so much this year. But it's definitely something we need to think about over the offseason and address coming next year."
The Loons must decide by Tuesday whether to exercise team options on six players, most notably including Trapp. Veterans Ozzie Alonso and Ethan Finlay —free agents each —are among players whose futures coach Adrian Heath and the front office must decide.
Here's a position-by-position, player-by-player look at the Minnesota United team that was in 2021 and could be in 2022.
Fiery left winger —sometimes too fiery? —is signed through 2024. His team's only goal in Sunday's playoff loss was his sixth —all near the goal — in 20 games sidetracked by a midsummer injury.
Fifth-year MLS winger who played in 13 games and started five is signed through 2022.
Loons paid him a $2.3 million salary in 2021 without evidence they had filled need for a pure goal scorer. Scored seven goals in 27 games since arriving from his French first-division team in May.
His nine goals led the Loons in his third MLS season. His first season was a transitional 2019, maybe a bit like Hunou's 2021. Signed through 2022.
Loons coach Adrian Heath promises he can be MLS' best player, if he sometimes is less of a playmaker and becomes a double-digit scorer, too. Signed through 2023.
Upcoming free agent who turned 36 two weeks ago was paid $322,000 last season, when he played better and more dependably than anyone imagined.
Versatile player who can start anywhere from wing and defensive midfield to fullback. He signed in June a new three-year contract with 2025 team option starting next season.
A Loon since midway through their first season, he is a free agent whose future in Minnesota depends on how the team manages its salary-cap situation.
A forthcoming free agent played 15 games last season, none after late September.
Designated player signed in December 2018 sure seems headed elsewhere after he played 18 minutes in the last three months because of an ankle injury and coach's decision.
Honduran played spot duty after arriving in August on 18-month loan from his Panama team. He has impressed in training after Loons scouted him in Olympic qualifying last March.
Former USMNT player provided continuity, playing more minutes than any Loon from the No. 6 defensive midfielder position. Loons have an option for 2022 on a contract that paid $747,500 in 2021.
Dependable former 15th overall pick has started 61 of 64 games at left back since 2019 arrival but too often makes the game an adventure. He signed a new four-year contract in September.
Loons went 10-6-1 when French left back started, 3-5 when he didn't in second MLS season at left center back.
Second-longest-tenured Loon missed Olympics after July injury stopped his ironman streak. Rewarded in September with new two-year contract, but team could upgrade at his position.
Active right back probably needs help at a position where he expends so much energy. A new multiyear contract paid him nearly $700,000 last season. He has started all 77 games he played in his three MLS seasons.
Signed through next season with a club option for 2023, he's the Loons' keeper of the present after he started 30 consecutive games and tied a team record for shutouts with 11.
Dayne St. Clair
Surprise playoff performance was his first Loons game since May 8. He needs to play and is up for a new contract, situations that need addressing.
Other possible returnees (roster space, salary cap permitting)
D Brent Kallman, D D.J. Taylor, D Jukka Raitala, F Juan Agudelo, F Fanendo Adi, D Callum Montgomery.
In the pipeline
F Justin McMaster, D Nabi Kibunguchy, D Noah Billingsley, F Aziel Jackson, GK Fred Emmings, F Patrick Weah.