Minnesota United announces first two signings to MLS team

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Brace Hemmelgarn
Justin Davis and Kevin Venegas will make the jump from the NASL to MLS with Minnesota, which enters the league as an expansion side next year.

Minnesota United announced its first two players as an MLS franchise Thursday, signing veteran defenders Justin Davis and Kevin Venegas from the club's NASL incarnation.

Davis, 28, has appeared in a club-record 169 games for Minnesota, earning NASL Best XI honors each of the past three seasons. A second-round pick by Real Salt Lake in 2010, the left back did not earn an MLS contract and signed with Minnesota in 2011.

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"It's an exciting time for soccer here in Minnesota and I'm honored to be able to continue my career with this club," Davis said in a news release. "Minnesota has been my only professional club and I look forward to helping the club succeed at the next level. Kevin and I have worked extremely hard to get to these points in our careers and I know we are excited for the new challenges in a new league."

Venegas was a second-round selection by Chivas USA in 2012 and, like Davis, signed with Minnesota after failing to latch on in MLS. The 27-year-old was named to the NASL Best XI in 2015 as a right back.

"I've been wanting to bring my style of play to Major League Soccer for as long as I can remember," Venegas said. "I know it will be a challenge but that's what I live for. I have some decent experience now, but I feel a new energy. At age 27, I'm a rookie and a vet."

The signings come after the club introduced former Orlando City boss Adrian Heath as its first MLS coach Tuesday. Minnesota also hired former D.C. United assistant coach Amos Magee as the organization's director of player personnel last month.

Minnesota will enter MLS alongside Atlanta United in 2017, bringing the league to 22 clubs.

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