Image: Minnesota United
Minnesota United’s three-year pursuit of Mexican center-back Miguel Tapias is finally over.
“Micky” is a Loon.
The 26-year-old central defender has signed a three-year contract with the Loons, while the club retains an option for the 2026 season. Tapias, who goes by “Micky” has been a target for the Loons for three years, and now, the Mexican has finally arrived.
Tapias joins the Loons from Liga MX side Pachuca, where he made 118 appearances over nine different competitions. The left-sided centerback joins the Loons to bolster their defense, noting that starter Bakaye Dibassy is still recovering from a season-ending injury late in the 2022 campaign. Tapis is expected to be in contention for a starting role come opening day on February 25.
“First and foremost, the club has been following me for three years. I’m happy and grateful for the club. I’m very happy to be here. I’ve wanted to play here with Minnesota [United] for a while and thanks to God, I’m now here.” Tapias told media Wednesday in a press conference following his second training session with the club. “I’m here contribute my grain of sand to the team, for the organization, I’m very thankful to be here with them. I chose to be here in the MLS because I think it’s a league that is on the up and up and I think that’s really, really important, that it’s continuing to grow and improve. The league, the MLS, I think is a top league and that is what made me come here.”
Tapias described himself as a “quick player” to media Wednesday, noting that he believes his qualities will fit the league well while giving Adrian Heath another option on the back line.
“I think one of my qualities is speed. I’m a quick player. I’m a player that can pass well, with my left leg obviously. A player that is concentrated for the 90, 95 minutes. I think that’s important for a defender. I’m strong on the mark.”
The Loons pursuit of Tapias began three years ago when Minnesota played Pachuca in an international friendly, where head coach Adrian Heath noted that Tapias stood out to the technical staff. For Tapias, it was an opportunity to impress, and three years on, he believes it paid off.
“I played an excellent game that day. I think because of that, the coach liked me. Talking here, I think this form, this style that I have, I think I caught his attention. I’m thankful to be here and (am) happy.”
A key reason why Tapias opted to join the Loons in MLS was the potential to raise a family here while continuing to grow as a professional footballer. Tapias arrived early this week with both his wife and young daughter, and now, is looking forward to touring the Twin Cities, Loons facilities and traveling across the country to different MLS stadiums and cities.
“Yes. It’s important that my family is already here with me since my first day. I have a wife and a four-year-old daughter. I’m happy. It’s about getting familiar with the city, the climate, all of that. Happy to be here with them and not alone.”
Former MNUFC defender Romario Ibarra was an influential voice in Tapias’s decision as well, as Ibarra and Tapias were teammates at Pachuca.
“Yes, before I came here. I, obviously, spoke with him on how the team was and the league. Really nice comments from him. I believe he was here for one year. I tried to speak with him on how it was here and he told me it was really good, really nice facilities, how the coach was. He told me [Adrian Heath] was similar to [Guillermo] Almada, who is with Pachuca. The one thing he said was the cold. That I would suffer with the cold, but nothing else.”
The cold is likely to be the worst of Tapias’s fears, as he already feels integrated into the team. Through two training sessions, he has already noticed a sense of cohesion with defensive partner Michael Boxall. The duo are presumed to be the starting central defender pairing going into the 2023 season, with the New Zealand International already linking up with Tapias.
“I think we’re going to be a good duo. He is a great player. I’ve hardly been here for two days training with him. The important thing is to adapt. As the time passes, we will have a good relationship back there defensively. We’ll see in the preseason games how we adjust to one another but for now I can tell you I’m happy with the squad and with the defense. I’m motivated to achieve big things here in the club.”
Tapias joins the Loons right before they depart for a preseason tournament in Southern California, where they will take on the New York Red Bulls, San Jose Earthquakes and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Tapias will travel with the team and is expected to earn minutes across the preseason tournament.
Sota Soccer will keep you up to date on all things MNUFC and Tapias as opening day inches closer and closer.