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Loons goalkeeper finds himself at home in yet another new place

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Born in Kansas and raised in Indiana, Minnesota United backup goalkeeper Eric Dick considers himself at home wherever he is.

That’s a good thing for a guy who has been with three MLS teams and five USL Championship teams from Columbus and Kansas City to Phoenix, Tulsa and beyond since 2018.

Ever since Sporting Kansas City loaned him to Phoenix Rising in 2020, he has explored the great outdoors in his new surroundings, which led him to a weekend on Minnesota’s North Shore during the Loons’ recent World Cup qualifying schedule break.

“I got hooked on that when I was in Arizona,” he said, “and now I’m hooked again in Minnesota.”

He became a Loon when the club claimed him in the MLS Re-Entry draft’s Stage 2 last winter and now is part of a four-man goalkeeper corps that coach Adrian Heath calls the league’s best.

At age 27, Dick’s training presence might give his new club confidence to sell veteran goalkeeper Tyler Miller if the price becomes right. He’d then become Dayne St. Clair’s backup while the team grooms young Fred Emmings.

Dick found his way to a new place many Minnesotans have never visited the same as so many do.

“I just went online and Googled it, ” he said. “I typed in ‘Cool places to go in Minnesota,’ and sure enough, the North Shore was one of the first things that popped up.”

So that’s where the keeper who shut out Colorado Rapids 2 for the Loons’ reserve MNUFC2 team 4-0 ended up last month in his Toyota hybrid and an Airbnb in Beaver Bay. Other first teamers who also need game action will get a chance to play Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup game at Forward Madison (Wis.).

“Smack dab in the middle of all these little hikes,” he said. “I just love walks. There’s something about hiking up to an overlook and seeing stuff from a different point of view that you just don’t see every day.”

So that’s how he came to Split Rock state park and its lighthouse, a partially frozen Gooseberry Falls and 900 feet above Lake Superior on Palisade Head’s clifftops on a cold, clear weekend off.

“And I went to Tette-something, too,” he said.

Tettegouche State Park.

“That’s it,” said Dick, the 2018 MLS Super Draft’s 13th overall pick out of Butler University.

He did all the things tourists do.

“I took the typical selfie with the lighthouse,” Dick said. “There were a ton of campers there, too. Interesting they trust a thin thing of nylon on five-degree nights. I loved it. I enjoy seeing people out there enjoying nature.”

He also stopped in Two Harbors on the way home and bought a Betty’s pie — a North Shore tradition — for his dad Randy’s upcoming visit that got a rare high-five approval.

“Bumbleberry,” Dick said.

Dick wants to return, preferably with other Loons in a team-building vacation along the big lake. He bought an annual state park sticker so he can explore Banning and Interstate parks closer to home as well.

Heath encourages his players to see the sights in their new home, whether it’s a summer’s afternoon on Lake Minnetonka or a road trip to Lake Superior.

“I’ve been up there and done it,” Heath said. “It’s a beautiful part of the world, for sure. I’m not sure about this time of year, though. I did it in summer and it was lovely.”

For a landlubber like Dick, the panoramic view from atop Palisade Head’s cliffs is a sight to see. He shared a video on his Twitter account.

“Seeing Superior from up there is unbelievable,” he said. “It just seems endless, like an ocean. I’ve been to the ocean and I was like, “Are you sure this is a lake?'”



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Grindy win was just what Sounders needed

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Aside from one particularly attractive attacking sequence, there weren’t a whole lot of memorable or even particularly notable moments from the Seattle Sounders’ 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday. Well, aside from the fact that the Sounders won a midweek road game on short rest and got their first shutout of the MLS campaign, anyway.

But let’s focus on those big-picture takeaways first.

More than anything, this win was a bit of a stress test for the Sounders and it sure looks like they passed. It’s been well established by now that the Sounders spent most of the first two months of the season setting themselves up for what turned out to be a successful run at becoming the first MLS team to win Concacaf Champions League.

One of the main ways that manifested itself is in how Brian Schmetzer chose to rotate his lineups. This was the Sounders’ 11th match to be played on less than five days’ rest this season. In most of those, especially those that came on the road, Schmetzer has chosen to rotate at least part of his lineup. Against the Dynamo, however, he effectively ran back the same group that had beaten Minnesota United on the weekend.

“That group of players actually earned the right to play,” Schmetzer explained. “For that group to kick the rust off, they needed to go back out there again and show what they can do. That was the reason for keeping basically the same starting lineup.”

Perhaps the most notable player in that group was Jordan Morris, who the Sounders have been especially careful with due to his “sprinter” characteristics. But after looking at Morris’ physical metrics, Schmetzer opted to give him a shot.

Morris, like several of his teammates, definitely looked to be feeling the strain at points. There were a couple runs later in that match where it looked like he simply ran out of gas, and he was ultimately pulled in the 77th minute. But he also rewarded Schmetzer’s faith, playing the penultimate pass that led to Raúl Ruidíaz’s goal.

The whole goal sequence as a whole was easily the match’s highlight. It started with Xavier Arreaga jumping a passing lane in Houston’s end to create the turnover and featured 22 consecutive connected passes — nine of which were nominally attacking in nature and all but two of which were in the attacking half — with every outfield player getting at least one touch. The final part of the play saw Nicolas Lodeiro clip a ball to Morris, who then whipped a cross through the box to Alex Roldan on the opposite wing. Roldan then one-touched his pass back to Ruidíaz in front of goal, where he blasted it through a defender.

Although the Sounders never put together a sequence nearly that aesthetically pleasing in the match, it was a good reminder of just how good this team can be when they have something like their ideal XI on the pitch together.

More broadly, the performance was exactly what the Sounders needed to show they were capable of, grindy and sloppy as it seemed at times. Not only did the Sounders generate slightly better chances by Expected Goals (1.3-1.2), they also won all the effort metrics like tackles, duels, blocks and interceptions.

After a slow start to league play, the Sounders now find themselves just two points out of a playoff spot with at least two games in hand on virtually the entire league. The Sounders can potentially jump into a playoff spot if they beat the Colorado Rapids on Sunday.

“We sang Jingle Bells and we had a clean sheet,” Schmetzer said in the postgame press conference, striking a slightly different tune than he had in his on-field interview at halftime. “No one is going to care in September or October how or why we won the game.

“That is a happy locker room. I’m a happy coach. There are happy assistant coaches and I think the whole club should be pleased with the result. It’s a six-point swing against someone who was ahead of us, it puts us in great shape to end the week on a high. I’m not frustrated at all.”



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Team of the Week presented by Audi: Austin FC dominate lineup in Week 12

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Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Brad Stuver (ATX) – Alexander Callens (NYC), Damion Lowe (MIA), Ruben Gabrielsen (ATX) – Xherdan Shaqiri (CHI), Jamiro Monteiro (SJ), Hany Mukhtar (NSH), Sebastian Driussi (ATX) – Lucas Cavallini (VAN), Raul Ruidiaz (SEA), Daniel Salloi (SKC)

Bench: Drake Callender (MIA), Yeimar Gomez Andrade (SEA), Alex Muyl (NSH), Alfredo Morales (NYC), Jackson Yueill (SJ), Emanuel Reynoso (MIN), Omir Fernandez (RBNY)





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Canada: 5 priorities the potential Nations League roster must address

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“He likes to play between the two center backs, he likes to lead the line, he can run behind the line and stretch the line, which I like,” Herdman said back in November. “I think that is a facet that can help complement other players and the way that we play. Often when we play with that No. 9 in Johnny [David] or Cyle [Larin], they want to be receiving in those pockets of space off the front. At times, we get left with a line that is not stretched. That space doesn’t really open up. I think Ike gives us that opportunity.”

Ugbo only played 53 minutes during the Octagonal across four substitute appearances. It’s clear, though, that he can be an impactful player, even off the bench, so giving him a start to build chemistry with either David or Larin would behoove everyone. If they find that connection on the pitch now, it’ll be a seamless change when Ugbo checks into a game at the World Cup.

More than anything, Ugbo deserves a shot given his strong finish to the season in his first proper run in a top-five European league. Herdman has constantly spoken about wanting his players in “Tier 1” leagues, now it’s time to reward those who transition to that environment without a hitch.





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