After Kervin Arriaga and Luis Amarilla, what does MNUFC still need?
I went on vacation for two weeks. It is very clear to me that living in Minnesota rather than in someplace that’s warm in the winter is one of the great foolishnesses of my life. I can only blame my ancestors, who chose to live in Minnesota and thereby anchored each succeeding generation to the previous one, a punishment visited onto the nth generation.
And while I was gone… kind of a lot happened. But not what was happening when I left!
When I left, MNUFC was on the verge of signing both midfielder Kervin Arriaga and striker Luis Amarilla. Now that I’m back, the Loons are… on the verge of signing both Arriaga and Amarilla.
First, let’s talk Arriaga, and frankly I cannot talk Arriaga without playing the following clip.
All your favorites! Arriaga! Arriaga II! Barriaga!
In all seriousness, Arriaga is a 6’3” defensive midfielder for the Honduran national team and for Honduran powerhouse Marathón. His arrival would give the Loons the option of fielding an all-Honduran midfield, with Joseph Rosales already in the midfield fold.
Wise sage Matt Doyle of MLSSoccer.com, writing about each Western Conference team’s worries for 2022, thought that Minnesota’s greatest worry was “who’s going to win the ball?” Without Ozzie Alonso, he notes, the Loons are missing that guy who wins 50-50 balls all over the field.
I’m not sure if Arriaga can be that guy, but here’s a video of him absolutely CONCACAFing things up in the midfield against Panama in December. He’s all over the place, getting in scraps, drawing (and committing) fouls - just like Alonso before him. Maybe this could work!
For me, this signing fills the Loons’ last remaining glaring need. If Arriaga can make it work in the midfield, it also has the effect of helping Minnesota shore up other needs as well, solely because it gives Hassani Dotson the option of filling in elsewhere on the pitch.
We were supposed to see Arriaga in St. Paul when Honduras visited for the CONCACAF Ice Bowl, but he couldn’t get his paperwork in order. According to this report, tweeted by the great Scott Kerssen, he couldn’t leave the country because he hasn’t been paying child support.
Given that one of his teammates got damn hypothermia, maybe it’s just as well he couldn’t make it.
It’s been a banner offseason for translating legalese from Spanish to English, in the MNUFC world.
As for Amarilla, there were a number of reports today that he was done and dusted. But then again, there was also one insane report that said MNUFC was interested in bringing in Carlos Tevez, which is so nonsensical it’s like it was invented by an automated Transfer Rumor Generator bot, so I guess everything should be taken with many grains of salt here.
We already talked about Amarilla and the forward glut, but here’s hoping competition is a good thing for the MNUFC forward line, because it’s looking like there will be plenty of competition.
Speaking of competition, the Loons finally made their move to bring in a veteran fullback, signing 30-year-old Oniel Fisher. He can play either left or right back, and has 78 MLS appearances over the past seven years with Seattle, D.C., and the LA Galaxy. This strikes me as a very solid signing, especially given that Romain Metanire is still recovering from his hamstring injury in the playoffs last year.
MNUFC spent a week or so in Florida, where it was mostly cold and rainy (they should have gone to Arizona with me, it was perfect there.) They played twice, a scoreless draw with Chicago and a 5-4 win against Orlando. Emanuel Reynoso scored from the halfway line, the Loons also got goals from Abu Danladi, Jacori Hayes, Wil Trapp, and triallist Emmanuel Iwe. And Dayne St. Clair saved a penalty.
The Loons trailed 1-0, led 4-1, blew a three-goal lead, and then Iwe scored a late winner. So the crazy is in mid-season form already.
Iwe is kind of a fun story. He went to St. Louis Park, by way of Joy of the People, the local soccer non-profit. He played last year at St. Cloud State, but he’s had trials at Werder Bremen and Deportivo Saprissa, and played for the NPSL’s Joy AC.
MNUFC found him from an open tryout, he’s been training with the team in preseason, and now who knows where he’ll go. Add him to the striker depth chart! TOO MANY IS NEVER ENOUGH!