Image: Minnesota United
At long last, the saga is over. Or is it?
Minnesota United announced Saturday afternoon that star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso has ended his months-long absence and arrived in Minnesota from his native Argentina, where he’s been since the end of the 2022 season.
“Emanuel Reynoso has returned to Minnesota as he works towards reintegration with the club,” said MNUFC in a statement. “He remains unavailable for all team activities until further notice.”
This new development comes after the Argentine was suspended by Major League Soccer in February for his failure to report to Loons’ preseason training, and obviously nothing’s changed with Reynoso remaining away from the club over the first nine matches of the regular season.
There have reportedly been numerous instances where the club thought Reynoso would end his holdout during that time. Most recently, a bombshell report from Apple TV’s Taylor Twellman during the broadcast for Minnesota match with FC Dallas on Sunday evening.
“Two weeks ago [MNUFC representatives] were down in Argentina and felt like Reynoso was going to get on the airplane, and then 24 hours later he did not,” said Twellman.
What many, including myself, felt to be a “last straw” or deal-breaker moment in the relationship between club and player actually served as a launching pad for the reality we find ourselves in today.
Rey is here. And that’s a net-positive for a club that is looking somewhere, anywhere for goals early in the campaign.
Even though this was likely a massive step for Reynoso, who had been reportedly having issues with the mother of his child back home and personal hesitations due to a pending trial, the real work of mending relationships with the club, the fans, and his teammates has yet to begin.
On the teammate front, Rey could have a lot of work to do to earn back the trust of the locker room. Even with the team’s recent drop in form, the vibes have been noticeably different among the group this season. All-smiles and friendly competitions have been the norm before, during, and after training sessions, seemingly using the adversity of missing their best player to band together and hold each other to a new standard.
“It’s just togetherness,” said left back Kemar Lawrence back in March. “We’ve started to clamp down a little bit more on everything just around the training facility. When you step onto the pitch, just bring in more…We have to make it a full team effort, and it’s been working.”
In addition to finding a more collective identity both on and off the pitch, players have expressed frustration over Reynoso’s absence on multiple occasions. Franco Fragapane had the following to say earlier this season when asked if he’d had any communication with his fellow countryman.
“No, we haven’t been in contact. It’s the job of the club to communicate,” said Fragapane. “We’ll continue waiting but we need a response.”
For his teammates, Reynoso will have to show he’s willing to put the work in both on and off the pitch and adapt to the club’s more collective identity. For himself, he’ll likely have a lot of conditioning and a lot of solo training ahead of him as he works to get back into match-ready fitness. For the fans, he will have to make some sort of statement that shows he’s both remorseful and willing to do what it takes to earn back their trust as well.
It’s unclear what the next few weeks and months have in store for Reynoso and Minnesota United, but the opportunity for redemption is there. It’s ultimately up to Rey whether or not he takes that opportunity.