For the Loons, everything starts with Rey - but will he arrive?
It wouldn’t take too much to prove that Emanuel Reynoso is Minnesota United’s best player, which makes him maybe the team’s most important player. Which is why there’s been one question that’s animated the whole preseason for MNUFC, which continues to dominate the headlines: where’s Rey?
This stopped being merely a distraction for the team about two weeks ago. As impossible as it sounds, the Loons have been in training for nearly a month now. They’ve been in Florida for two weeks, getting their preseason fitness ready. They’ve got ten days to go until their first broadcasted preseason match. They’ve got 24 days until they open the MLS season in Dallas. And they still have no idea when Reynoso will arrive.
One of the following things has to be true:
One, the reason that Reynoso is not in Florida right now is that he cannot leave Argentina due to his legal troubles.
Two, the reason that he hasn’t arrived is that he has other personal issues or family issues, and the club is standing by him as he works through difficulty of some kind at home.
Three, for some reason - he wants a transfer? He wants (another) new contract? He hates preseason training? - he simply has not yet seen fit to get on a plane and get himself to the United States.
Here’s what manager Adrian Heath had to say at a press conference on Monday:
We’re probably a bit more hopeful in the next few days. I spoke to Rey today and it feels as though hopefully we can sort this out and get him back here. He’s got one or two issues he needs to sort out at home…. At the end of the day, we just want to get Rey here, we want him to get himself here and start getting some work into him. We’ve still got another just about a month, so we can get some work into him.
This doesn’t sound like he’s currently in a situation where he cannot leave Argentina. The club’s original statement, more than two weeks ago, was as follows:
Emanuel Reynoso is currently home in Argentina. At this time, we understand that he is dealing with personal matters. We will provide an update when we have more to share.
Again, to me, that rules out option one - but the other two are still bad, and one is worse than the other.
Either way, Reynoso is now almost a month behind with preseason preparations. The Loons are lucky in the sense that Reynoso has worked with almost all the offensive players that are currently in camp, so it’s not an experience problem - it’s a fitness problem. Minnesota can ill afford to start the season with its best player at half speed.
The more worrisome possibility, however, is that Rey hasn’t arrived yet for any number of other possible reasons, and without speculating any further on what those reasons could possibly be, I think those would make things even harder for the Loons. If the team’s best player doesn’t want to be here, that’s bad news on both the player’s side and on the team’s side.
Whatever the reasons, for now, the likely plan would be for Robin Lod, the Loons’ utility player, to fill in for Reynoso in that role.
“It doesn’t matter where we play him [Lod], we nearly have man of the match performances out of him regardless of where we play him,” said Heath. “I thought he was one of the best players on the field the other day against Philly, and he was in sort of central midfield… We’re fortunate that we have a player that has numerous positions that he can play very, very well in. I don’t want to tie him down now [and pick a position for him], because that would be foolish, because he has so much more to offer than that.”
Minnesota may not have a like-for-like replacement for Reynoso - who would? - but, in Lod, they do have a player that’s slotted in literally everywhere in the Loons’ attack over the past few years. And right now, that might be the only solution they’ve got.