Loons playmaker Emanuel Reynoso comforted by family’s arrival in Minnesota
“(It’s) a big motivation and I’m happy. I come home to another environment," Reynoso said Friday.
Minnesota United scored a season-high three goals in its win over Colorado Rapids last weekend, but more importantly Loons central attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso was involved in the build-up to each finish.
In the seventh game of the year, the contributions were Reynoso’s first primary or secondary assists of the season and constituted encouraging signs for a club which knows it needs its Argentine No. 10 to be at his best to reach the heights they seek in 2022.
For Reynoso, he has been boosted by the arrival of his wife and toddler daughter in Minnesota before last week’s game. Reynoso was wed during a preseason break in Argentina in February, and they were able to reunite after the pandemic kept them away.
“You get home from training and your daughter is there, your wife is there,” Reynoso said Friday through club translator Gabriela Lozada. “(It’s) a big motivation and I’m happy. I come home to another environment.”
That familial support will be there again when MNUFC (3-2-2) play host to the Chicago Fire (2-1-4) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Allianz Field.
“They might be athletes and professional footballers but they are also human beings and they have the same frailties as everybody else does,” manager Adrian Heath said Friday. “I think we’ve seen a marked difference in his demeanor and the way he has been about the place. … Hopefully this will be the kickstart to his season.”
It’s an even further departure from the turbulent offseason Reynoso experienced in his hometown of Cordoba, Argentina. The 26-year-old was detained for a week in December when facing assault accusations. It’s a matter he said in February that has been resolved.
“I haven’t had very good games,” Reynoso acknowledged about the start of his 2022 season. “But I keep training at 100 percent for each match to help the team. Honestly, against Colorado, we played a great game, everyone.”
Reynoso’s cross was headed in by Bakaye Dibassy in the first half, then Reynoso connected with Hassani Dotson on an overlapping run and Dotson’s cross was put home by Robin Lod’s right foot to take a 2-1 lead. For the third goal, Bongi Hlongwane passed to Reynoso, who then found Lod, and Lod dished to Abu Danladi to slot in the insurance goal.
“I thought (Reynoso’s) final ball was better,” Heath said about the Rapids game. “I thought that he mixed his game up a little bit more. When he plays instinctively and plays his natural game, I think he, as we know, probably can pick a pass as good as anybody in the league.”
If Reynoso can keep pulling those strings and add to his goal total (he’s scored once off a penalty kick against Seattle on April 2), he is the Loons’ best bet to make the MLS All-Star Game at Allianz Field on Aug. 10. It would be his second straight selection, but a series of small injuries kept him out of the showcase in L.A. last summer.
“You work to help the team, give your best here, and obviously, that will bring good things if you do things well,” Reynoso said of the All-Star Game. “And too, there are a lot of players here who could be involved.”
Goals are expected to come at a premium Saturday with Chicago giving up a league-low two goals in seven games. Goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina has five clean sheets, a 0.29 goals-against average, and the 17-year-old dual national has drawn more attention from bigger clubs and the U.S. and Poland national teams.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Heath said. “Away from home, they have been very diligent in keeping that low block and not giving much away. It might take us a while to break them down, but I believe we’ve got the players (to do it). The way we set up and the way they set up, I believe, we have options to cause them trouble.”
The Loons started the same back four defenders in consecutive MLS games for the first time since the opening two weeks of the season in the Rapids win last weekend.
Three in a row appears doubtful after right back Hassani Dotson suffered an injury during a transfer drill on artificial grass during Friday’s training session in Blaine. Dotson has played all 630 minutes this year at fullback and in central midfield.
“We’ll see how he is,” Heath said immediately after training. “… We don’t know yet. He’s obviously in there with the club doctor. … I think hopefully he’s caught his foot in the turf and hopefully it’s just some swelling.”
With Romain Metanire (hamstring) already sidelined for weeks, Oniel Fisher and D.J. Taylor are the candidates to fill in Dotson. Fisher and Taylor stared at fullback in the 2-0 win over Forward Madison in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday.
“I’d have no qualms with putting either of them in there,” Heath said.
Fire midfielder Xheridan Shaqiri is questionable to play with a calf injury. Chicago paid an $8 million transfer fee to Lyon in France’s Ligue 1 for the 30-year-old Swiss international. … Chase Gasper did not train with the Loons on Friday; Heath said the left back will play with MNUFC2 at St. Louis City 2 in MLS NEXT Pro on Sunday in Missouri. … Former Loons defender Wyatt Omsberg, who played seven times for MNUFC in 2018, has not left the field for the Fire this season, logging all 630 minutes. … The Wonderwall supporters sections have had more TIFO banners this season and are planning a big one before kickoff Saturday.