Just like most of the 2021 season thus far, Emanuel Reynoso was central to most of what Minnesota United FC did well in Wednesday night's crucial 3-2 home win over the Philadelphia Union.
Reynoso contributed slick back-heel assists on the Loons' first two goals and was involved in the buildup on Franco Fragapane's 67th-minute winner at Allianz Field.
His overall performance was a major reason why Minnesota emerged from Week 31 at sixth place in the Western Conference standings, two points on the good side of a spot in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Afterward, manager Adrian Heath went so far as to suggest the 25-year-old Argentine could be the best player in all of Major League Soccer.
"I’ve got to say, you know," said Heath, who won two English league titles and an FA Cup with Everton in the 1980s, "I wish I was playing up front, playing in front of Rey at times because his vision and his quality is exceptional. I think he might be the best player in the league at this moment in time. I really do.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Minnesota United FC vs. Philadelphia Union | October 20, 2021
The next step, Heath said, is getting him to become a bit more selfish. Reynoso has four goals and 10 assists in 25 games (24 starts) this year.
"He’s just got incredible vision and awareness of what’s going on around him," Heath said. "We always say, the people who fetch the most money are the people that can make a goal and score a goal. I want him to score more. But, if we do, as I said, we’ve got one hell of a player for sure."
Reynoso first joined Minnesota midseason in 2020 from Boca Juniors, sparking a Western Conference Final appearance with two goals and 14 assists across 16 combined regular-season and playoff games. He's taken some injuries this go-around but sits second in MLS in key passes (77) – only behind New England's Carles Gil.
The Designated Player's on-field presence also lifts Minnesota's other attackers, with Ethan Finlay, Robin Lod, Adrien Hunou and Fragapane benefiting against Philadelphia.
“It’s a pleasure for me to play with Rey, with Robin, with Ethan, with Franco," said Hunou, whose 41st-minute strike opened the scoring. "We all are dangerous and it's good. It’s getting better, with this season we have had a lot of injuries and I just arrived [from France's Rennes] a few months ago. So, it’s not easy to find a good atmosphere but it's better when you play. It’s getting better day after day, game after game."
Now, it's about seeing if Reynoso has more magic in store Saturday when the Loons host LAFC at Allianz Field (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). Earlier this year, he scored in a 2-2 draw at Banc of California Stadium – though this clash will carry heightened playoff implications.
"Saturday is a huge game for us, but it’s a huge game for LAFC," Heath said. "Us winning the game here this weekend could make a big swing. But, hey, we know it’s going to be tough. It’s probably one of the most expensively assembled teams in the league, well-coached and really good individuals.”