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Joseph Rosales is comfortable with Loons, presence of Kervin Arriaga helps

Joseph Rosales is comfortable with Loons, presence of Kervin Arriaga helps

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Austin FC
Minnesota United midfielder Joseph Rosales (8) and Austin FC midfielder Alexander Ring (8) battle for the ball in the first half at Q2 Stadium on Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Austin, Texas.
Scott Wachter / USA Today Sports

Kervin Arriaga turned a Joseph Rosales interview with local media members Tuesday into a buddy comedy.

Before the first question, Arriaga acted like he was a reporter, placing an imaginary microphone under his Minnesota United teammate’s chin. Then the playful Arriaga switched to pantomiming like he was holding a TV camera toward his fellow Honduran midfielder.

“He’s great company,” Rosales said.

At that, Arriaga mimicked a celebration as if he scored a goal. He whirled around the Loons’ practice field in Blaine with his arms extended. After a few laps, he plopped down on the grass and did a front-crawl swimming stroke. Rosales smiled and shook his head.

Rosales and Arriaga started together in central midfield for the first time as MNUFC teammates in the 1-0 loss to Austin FC on Sunday and are candidates to keep their places this weekend. The Loons (2-2-2) host Colorado Rapids (2-2-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Allianz Field.

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“First, give thanks to God, and I’m happy because I hadn’t started before,” Rosales said through club translator Gabriela Lozada. Rosales’ introduction into the Loons starting XI came a week after he made his debut for Honduras’ national team in a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica on March 31.

“Very happy, honestly,” Rosales said. The achievement for his country led to his flowing black hair being buzzed off.

“It’s like a tradition more than anything,” Rosales explained. “The new players, the young ones who haven’t been able to debut with the national team, get their hair cut done by the captains or the team veterans. This time, it was my turn.

“But hair grows back.”

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Last season, Rosales, 21, made six substitute appearances for the Loons after joining the club at the close of the secondary transfer window in August. He came to Minnesota needing to rehab a knee injury, but once healthy, he had a taste of MLS down the stretch of the season, including an impressive outing at Austin last October and a contribution in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

“My teammates welcomed me, and in that moment, I felt comfortable, like I was at home,” Rosales said. “The truth is, this year feels the same.”

That comfort level increased when Arriaga joined the Loons in February. “He’s like my brother, we’ve known each other since the Olympic qualifiers” in March 2021, Rosales said. “The trust is he’s been a great help for me because it’s not easy to be in a country without anyone special with you. So he, for me, is like family.”

They are a bit of an odd couple. Arriaga is big at 6-foot-3 and Rosales is unimposing at 5-foot-10. Arriaga likely to be pulling off some antic; Rosales comes off soft-spoken.

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Manager Adrian Heath referenced another character trait. “A bit like Kervin, (Rosales has) a real anger inside him when he plays,” Heath said last week.

Arriaga, 24, signed a two-year contract with Minnesota and was plugged into the starting lineup for the season opener against Philadelphia on Feb. 26. He had an operation that caused him to miss the Nashville draw a week later, started the two wins against New York Red Bulls and San Jose before a delay with his visa forced him to miss the loss to Seattle two weeks ago.

Captain Wil Trapp has been the only midfielder who has been more of a mainstay this season. Trapp hasn’t been as sharp this season. He was booked with four yellow cards in the first halves of the last four games and is one more caution away from a one-game suspension.

With Romain Metanire dealing with a possible hamstring setback, midfielder Hassani Dotson might continue to fill in at right back.

Rosales’ first MLS start came last Sunday in a three-man midfield with Arriaga and Trapp. It served as another sign United is trending toward picking up a purchase option when Rosales’ 18-month loan from Independiente in Panama expires in December.

“I want to stay here,” he said. “I feel at home. … It’s a decision for the directors and the coach, but if I’m able to stay, I will be very happy.”

Related Topics: MINNESOTA UNITED FCSOCCER
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