Darwin Quintero - Minnesota United - preseason

ORLANDO, Fla. – Darwin Quintero doesn’t think much about Minnesota United’s disappointing 2018.

It was the Colombian Designated Player's first taste of Major League Soccer, and he scored a team-high 11 goals and 15 assists despite missing the first month of the season. In spite of providing an immediate boost after his arrival, Quintero's individual contributions weren’t enough to spearhead the Loons to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Onward and upward in year two.

“There’s always things to get better at,” Quintero told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s Orlando City Invitational game against the New England Revolution, which Minnesota won 1-0.

“You have to work a lot harder, so we could be able to have a better year,” he added. “When we’re looking at last year, we have to move on from that and not look back.”

Minnesota conceded 71 goals in league play last year, breaking their own record from 2017, just three off Orlando's all-time record for goals conceded in an MLS season. It may just be preseason, but so far Adrian Heath’s side have only let in two goals.

For Quintero, that indicates some progress.

“The team is getting better. We’re working a lot on the defensive parts, which really hurt us last year, and I think in that regard, we’re progressing,” he said. “We’ve only conceded two goals so far in preseason and that should say a lot about the job we’re doing, which I think it’s good.”

Minnesota made several notable offseason changes, signing midfielder Jan Gregus to a DP deal from FC Copenhagen. Meanwhile, MLS veterans Ozzie Alonso and Ike Opara joined from the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City, respectively.

With significant moves, stretching back to Quintero's signing during the 2018 season, come raised expectations.

“I think that there are certain aspects that we have to sharpen up,” said Heath. “It’s never easy when you got six or seven new players, which we’ve got from the middle of last year. We’re still trying to let them in and work on one or two things, but on the whole, I can’t fault the players for their efforts.”

As for Quintero’s efforts, Heath said he expects the attacker to continue playing a pivotal role for the Loons in 2019.

“I know that if we can get him enough of the ball, and stays injury-free, he will score and make goals,” said Heath. “That’s what he’s always done, that’s what he did last year.

"What we have to do, and we spoke about it, is trying to get him the ball earlier in the right spots and if we do, he’ll create things for us.”