After pair of trades, Loons see upgrade in young attacking midfielders
Loons acquired 20-year-old wide attacking midfielder Cameron Dunbar from Los Angeles Galaxy.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United acquired one young attacking player and traded away another with a similar profile during the MLS trade window Monday.
The Loons acquired 20-year-old wide attacking midfielder Cameron Dunbar from Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2023 MLS draft and up to $75,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM), if Dunbar meets certain performance-based metrics.
The Loons traded away 21-year-old central attacking midfielder Aziel Jackson to St. Louis City for $150,000 in GAM and up to $75,000 in additional GAM if Jackson meets certain performance-based metrics with the MLS expansion club.
“Given the two trades, I think we’ve upgraded the (midfielder) position,” Loons technical director Mark Watson told the Pioneer Press. “I think we got a player (Dunbar) who is a year younger that has first-team experience and has a really good track record when he goes down to the lower divisions to develop.”
Dunbar played in 18 MLS games in 2020-21. With L.A, Galaxy II, he scored 12 goals (three off penalty kicks) and had three assists in 2,856 minutes in USL Championship, a league considered above the level Jackson played in MLS NEXT Pro a year ago.
“(Dunbar) is a really good, young kid, and we think he fits the club ethos in terms of work ethic,” Watson said. “He’s a really good fit for our culture.”
The Loons leader sees Dunbar, who is right footed, having the ability to play in wide areas on both sides of the field at the MLS level.
“We see him as someone who is not penciled in to start right away, but a young hungry kid who deserves an opportunity,” Watson said. “We think the timing is right to add him to the group.”
The Loons acquired Jackson from New York Red Bulls in April 2021 for a third-round pick in the 2022 draft and no additional cost, so this move right now has a net positive. Jackson played only for the Loons developmental team, MNUFC2, in 2022, where he was named to MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI with a league-high 70 key passes, 10 goals and seven assists.
MNUFC manager Adrian Heath expressed intrigue by Jackson’s upside, but also shared the midfielder needed to be more of a consistent professional.
Both the Dunbar and Jackson trades include clauses that if a transfer fee is paid for the player to go to a league outside MLS, 20 percent of the fee will go back to Galaxy and Loons, respectively. Dunbar will be a homegrown player, like Jackson was, and will occupy a spot lower on the roster.
MNUFC and St. Louis discussed a proposal that the new team wouldn’t take one of Minnesota’s unprotected players in Friday’s expansion draft, but it was not included in eventual deal, Watson said.
The Loons have submitted a list of 12 protected players which St. Louis City can’t take in Friday expansion draft. MLS will share the list of eligible players on Thursday.
St. Louis will make five picks, but can only select a single player from any one club. If Minnesota has a player taken, the franchise will receive $50,000 in GAM.
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