Image: Minnesota United
A news report linking forward Luis Amarilla with a move back to Ecuadorian club Liga De Quito surfaced Wednesday evening. Adrian Heath said he has “not heard anything” on the report, and had no further comment regarding the matter. The Pioneer Press reported Thursday afternoon that the Loons are exploring the Paraguayan’s exit, with “suitors in both Ecuador and Mexico.”
Heath mentioned the club are actively trying to bring in “1 to 2” players this summer transfer window, adamantly saying for the third time in a week that the club has “money to spend.” Assuming his phrasing means more than TAM and GAM, the Loons could be looking to bring in another U22 Initiative player or an additional Designated Player. They have an open U22 slot, while having a salary in Luis Amarilla that’s capable of being bought down to open an additional DP slot.
MNUFC hosts RSL this weekend at Allianz Field. Heath mentioned that the 2023 signing and club-record transfer for RSL, Carlos Andres Gomez, was a player they looked to acquire this offseason as well. The Loons, however, were priced out of the winger. Gomez has two goals and five assists in all competitions for RSL this year after signing for 3.5 million this offseason.
Reintegration, Returns, Readiness
Following their knocking out of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tuesday evening in Houston, MNUFC and head coach Adrian Heath are looking to “get on with what we do” and look to league matches Saturday May 27 at Allianz Field and Wednesday May 31 in Austin at Q2 Stadium.
“Well… obviously everybody’s a bit mentally and physically – a little bit tired – with the travel and everything that we’ve done [7 games in the past 24 days] but the games are coming thick and fast,” Heath said Thursday morning. “We got a big game on Saturday then we go again on Wednesday so don’t feel sorry for yourself let’s just get on with what we do.”
Attacker Emanuel Reynoso joined the training session, which was open to the media, for the first time in the 2023 campaign. The Argentine warmed up with the group but was then sent aside to work with strength and conditioning coaches. Good news came about the Loons playmaker’s status though, as Heath said that Reynoso is set to join the group in first-team training sooner than expected, with full sessions just on the horizon for the Argentine attacker.
In addition to Reynoso, defenders Bakaye Dibassy and Mikael Marques will also be joining the group next week and with that, the Loons will have their entire roster healthy and training together for the first time this season (minus Robin Lod, who is sidelined for the next 4-to-6 months).
“Hopefully we’ll try to get him integrated next week,” Heath said of Dibassy, who suffered a season-ending injury during the 2022 campaign.
Forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who leads the team in scoring with six goals, said that the Loons entire focus has shifted to the league and the forthcoming fixtures after Tuesday evening. Hlongwane will look to score for the third-straight match in the league for the Loons.
“Scoring goals… It’s nice. I won’t lie, It’s nice when you see your teammates being happy, See the coaches being happy… defense happy,” Hlongwane said.
Hlongwane mentioned that he has helped fellow U22 initiative player Sang Bin Jeong acclimate to Minnesota since his arrival, mentioning that the two have gotten coffee, dinner or done activities together since his arrival – notably, on the last road trip to Portland and then Houston.
The South African International is hoping that the club can retain their league form going forward, but it starts with finishing and scoring goals.
“We usually create five or six chances per game, so I feel like if we can convert our chances, then we can hear Wonderwall play again.”
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair is ignoring the numbers and remaining confident in his abilities as one of the top goalkeepers in Major League Soccer.
“Getting a clean sheet [against RSL] is definitely going to be a priority,” St. Clair said. “For us, anytime we defend well at home we give ourselves an opportunity and we just need to keep believing in our attackers to find the back of the net.”
The Canadian International is also in contention to compete in this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League for Canada. Per St. Clair, he’s in communication with the federation and their staff, but a congested schedule in recent weeks has made it difficult to keep in touch consistently.
“Nations League, Gold Cup, it’s always on the back of your mind for any international player that they know it’s what’s looming but I think I know that my performances here dictate how those go and me getting called in… So I think it’s not a distraction but a little bit of extra motivation knowing that it’s fastly approaching,” St. Clair said.
The Loons keeper is hoping to see his name on the roster for the prestigious North American tournaments this summer, after featuring with Canada in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“When when I get into camp we kind of have those conversations or a kind of connect every now and then but with our schedule of playing every three four days, it’s kind of been tough to kind of have one of those connections and things like that… so kind of when I when I get in there I’m sure we’ll talk.”