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Loss of Romain Metanire to another injury overshadows Loons’ win over Paderborn

The 32-year-old right back is expected to be sidelined about two months

MLS: SC Paderborn 07 at Minnesota United
Minnesota United defender Romain Metanire controls the ball against SC Paderborn in the first half Saturday, June 11, 2022, at Allianz Field in St. Paul. Metanire went down with an injury in the match, and the 32-year-old right back is expected to be sidelined about two months.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL — There were plenty of positives in Minnesota United’s 4-3 victory over SC Paderborn 07 in an international friendly on Saturday night at Allianz Field.

Forward Luis Amarilla — who hadn’t scored in more than 500 total minutes since mid-March — netted a goal against the German second-division side. Rising prospect Aziel Jackson and backup midfielder Jacori Hayes produced highlight-reel goals.

Center back Bakaye Dibassy scored on a set piece, an area in which MNUFC has struggled throughout this season, and 18-year-old goalkeeper Fred Emmings made his first-team debut after graduating from St. Paul Central High school midweek.

But …

Former MLS All-Star defender Romain Metanire went down with another injury, and the 32-year-old right back is expected to be sidelined about two months, the Pioneer Press learned Monday.

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In his first game back in two months, Metanire made a run down the flank against Paderborn in the 26th minute Saturday and came up holding his left hamstring.

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An official update on Metanire will be available Tuesday, when MNUFC opens training sessions in Blaine. The Loons had been counting on Metanire’s long-awaited return for the final 20 games of the MLS season, which start Sunday in a road game against New England Revolution.

After Saturday’s exhibition, Loons manager Adrian Heath acknowledged the big concern with Metanire but tried to take a wait-and-see approach: “It’s got to be concerning because if it’s a bad one, his chances (for) most of this season is going to be a washout for him. He just hasn’t been able to get going. We’ll have a better idea how he is in the next couple of days, but it doesn’t look good at this moment in time.”

Metanire originally went down with a serious right hamstring tear the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs first-round game against Portland last November. He had a setback in preseason camp and played only 22 minutes against Austin FC on April 10 before suffering another tweak in that road MLS game. A toe injury also complicated his recoveries this season.

When Metanire was injured Saturday, he laid distraught on the grass at Allianz Field and teammates came up to console him. As the veteran laid on the grass, Heath was shown on TV forcefully putting down a water bottle and stressfully rubbing his forehead during the stoppage.

The frustration lies, in part, to the Loons being extra patient in bringing back the Madagascan veteran, not playing him before the three-week FIFA international window opened in late May to give him more time.

MNUFC technical director Mark Watson told the Pioneer Press in late May that the club would adjust its plans for the summer transfer window based on what happened leading to its opening July 7. He pointed to Metanire’s imminent return as a boost to the roster.

As Metanire undergoes another long rehab, it might force the Loons to find another replacement before the summer window closes on Aug. 4. D.J. Taylor and Oniel Fisher have filled in pretty well, but the club has missed Metanire’s level of crosses into the box in the offensive third.

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The Loons suffered other injuries before and after Metanire went down. Left back Kemar Lawrence collided with goalkeeper Tyler Miller in the opening minutes. Lawrence had his right leg tended to and he limped off the field in the 12th minute. Fisher replaced him. Taylor replaced Metanire.

In the 87th minute, substitute winger Niko Hansen exited after coming up limp after a scoring chance fizzled. “I don’t think Niko is too bad,” Heath said postgame.

Given the rash of injuries Saturday, the Loons are looking for five first-team players — Dayne St. Clair, Robin Lod, Kervin Arriaga, Michael Boxall and Bongi Hlongwane — to return from international duty healthy.

Boxall and New Zealand have an enormous game at 1 p.m. Tuesday. They will play for the last spot in the FIFA World Cup against Costa Rica in an intercontinental playoff in Doha, Qatar.

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