MNUFC Shores Up the Defense, Adds Ethan Bristow

On Tuesday morning,  Minnesota United FC announced the acquisition of Ethan Bristow from Tranmere Rovers (English Football League Two) on contract through 2025 with a club option for 2026. If the signing of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was low-key on the heels of Teemu Pukki’s arrival, then Bristow came in completely under the radar — But that’s  exactly where we like our defenders.

The leftback made 46 starts for the Rovers in the 22/23 season, contributing a goal and two assists through the League Two campaign. As noted by that club’s press release regarding the sale, Bristow also made a solid impression on the club, both on and off the pitch.

Tranmere Rovers manager Ian Dawes: “Ethan has been a key part of the first team since joining us from Reading last year, and his attitude and development has impressed from the start. We knew lots of clubs were looking at him and we had bids for him back in January so it’s no surprise to see him move.”

Minnesota’s interest in Bristow was first reported by the Pioneer Press in late June, but it is easy to discount transfer rumors around this club — Especially in regards to a position of such desperate need. Kemar Lawrence was meant to be a mainstay in the leftback position but between international duty and an ill family member in Jamaica, he has appeared in only 14 matches thus far in 2023. In Lawrence’s absence DJ Taylor has laid claim to the role but that is the extent of the Loons’ depth as offseason additions Ryen Jiba and Mikael Marqués remain on the injured list.

Given Bristow’s age (21) and the length of his contract, it is clear that he is meant to be a long-term building block of Minnesota’s defense. Adrian Heath, quoted in Tuesday’s announcement, is excited by that prospect:

“The pleasing thing for us is he had a couple of options to go to the Championship [English Second Division] and the minute we spoke to him he had set his heart on coming to Minnesota. It bodes well for the future and we are sure that over the course of the next few years we have added a tremendous player and he will be really valuable for us.”

Bristow was present at MNUFC’s training on Tuesday but is still awaiting his P1 visa and International Transfer Certificate, both of which should arrive shortly (judging by precedent set by past England-to-MLS transfers). It is good timing given the upcoming Leagues Cup action and the break from league play — Bristow should have plenty of time to integrate with the squad before the playoff push continues.

Upcoming MNUFC Action

Leagues Cup | July 23 vs. Puebla (Liga MX), July 27 vs. Chicago Fire

MLS | August 20 @ NYCFC, August 27 vs. Seattle, August 30 vs. Colorado