Adrian Heath hopes brace can inspire Darwin Quintero, Minnesota United

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A brace from Darwin Quintero helped Minnesota United defeat Western Conference playoff contenders Real Salt Lake Sunday evening at Allianz Field.

The Colombian playmaker has not had the 2019 season many expected of him, but Quintero finding form right before the Audi 2019  MLS Cup Playoffs begin is the best situation the Loons could have hoped for.

“It’s a huge win in light of the results [around the league]; I’m really pleased with the response,” coach Adrian Heath said. “If we’re going to make a push from here on in, we need our best players to be a light for us and Darwin’s a difference maker.”

Quintero opened the scoring for the Loons in the twentieth minute, dancing around MLS veteran Nick Rimando and slotting the ball into the lower corner. He scored his brace in the second half, dribbling from the midfield by himself and firing home from the top of the box.

“I’m happy with the result of the team, happy to have helped out in whatever way possible,” Quintero said. “I’m always working to help out the team and score some goals, sometimes it doesn’t always go that way but today it did.”

The Colombian playmaker scored 11 goals and added 13 assists in his debut season for the Loons in 2018, but 2019 hasn’t been nearly as successful. He’s added 8 goals and 5 assists in 26 matches; scoring only three since the month of July began prior to tonight.

Quintero finding form this late in the season ahead of the 2019 playoffs would be the best-case-scenario for Heath’s side.

“There’s nothing like scoring goals to get your confidence going,” Heath said. “Hopefully that will be a turning point for him, and we can sort of piggyback on top of him [as the Loons finish the season].”

The Loons' final four-game stretch involves four teams that are all competing for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Heath wants every match to be treated like a cup final; regardless of opponent or match location.

For Quintero, Heath wants to see more consistency out of his star playmaker, but more than anything, he just wants him to feel like himself out on the pitch again as the team heads into their final stretch of the season.

“The most important thing is I’m sure that’ll do his confidence a lot of good, when your Darwin’s age and you’ve been through a lot in football, which he will have been, there’s nothing like scoring goals to get your confidence going,” Heath said. “If he does that, he’ll be really valuable for us moving forward.”