Loons fans won't get up-close look at prospect Kervin Arriaga in U.S.-Honduras game
The 24-year-old had been a mainstay in Honduras' lineup but did not travel to the U.S. due to “migration issues.”
ST. PAUL — The Venn diagram of U.S. men’s national team/Minnesota United fans appeared to be in for a treat when the USMNT plays Honduras in a World Cup qualifier at Allianz Field on Wednesday.
The Loons have been nearing the signing of defensive midfielder Kervin Arriaga, a mainstay for Honduras’ starting XI during this international cycle. The 24-year-old played every minute of his team’s 2-0 losses to Canada and El Salvador, but the opportunity to see him play in-person was scuttled Tuesday afternoon with reports that he did not travel to the U.S. due to “migration issues.”
Arriaga, who has played club soccer for CD Marathon in his native country, completed 80 percent or more of his passes in each of the two previous qualifiers, per wyscout, and nearly had the equalizing goal off a header against Canada until goalkeeper Milan Borjan made a nice save.
FS1 color commentator Stu Holden recalls watching Arriaga play in CONCAFAC Champions League against the Portland Timbers and then in the Olympic qualifying tournament against the U.S. over the past year-plus.
“He’s a talented player,” Holden told the Pioneer Press this week. “I think he will do well in this league if given the right opportunity and the right system. Not too much pressure too early, but I see a guy that is full of confidence and can do really well in MLS.”
Holden sees Arriaga’s best attributes as his hustle and tenacity.
“He has an incredible range to his game,” Holden said. “His capacity to run at a high intensity and not just cover ground to cover ground. He can really drive the ball forward, defensively has a great work rate. He is physical. He gets in guys’ faces. He makes tackles. I think I see a guy that reads the game really well for a young player.”
Listed at 6-foot-3, Arriaga would be expected to be an aerial threat in both boxes for the Loons. His near goal against Canada came off a header on a free kick, and in the El Salvador game, he had another header on frame from a corner.
The Loons could really use a primary offensive threat to get on the end of Emanuel Reynoso’s set-piece service. They have some of that with Bakaye Dibassy and Brent Kallman but haven’t had a go-to-guy in that role since Ike Opara was sidelined early in the 2020 season.
Holden sees Arriaga’s passing as a primary area for improvement. “It’s his long-range passing, his short-range passing, his decision-making in the final third,” Holden said.
The Loons lost captain Ozzie Alonso as a free agent to expansion cousin Atlanta United in December, but Alonso was expected to further serve as a backup to the preferred midfield pairing of Wil Trapp and Hassani Dotson in manager Adrian Heath’s 4-2-3-1 formation. The Loons also will use a 4-3-3.
“I’d be interested to see where Minnesota uses (Arriaga) because I think if you have a guy like him, Hassani Dotson and Wil Trapp in the middle of the field potentially, that is a lot,” Holden said. “If Wil Trapp has more time to dictate the play and get the game going, you have two really good physical players in Dotson and Arriaga who can make life difficult for opposing midfielders. I think that could be a real strength for Minnesota in the engine room.”