Emanuel Reynoso is back.
After missing Minnesota United FC's first 15 matches of the MLS season following a preseason suspension, the Argentine playmaker made his 2023 debut off the bench in a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC on Saturday night.
Reynoso, one of the league's most electric players, made an instant impact. He whipped in a cross that eventually led to Kervin Arriaga's 89th-minute equalizer, rescuing a point for the Loons.
"He gave us a lift, didn't he, with his quality," said head coach Adrian Heath following the match. "You know we can’t afford to be without our better players. We can’t. That’s the harsh reality of it all. And Rey [Emanuel Reynoso] is one of our best players, and he showed that tonight."
Getting Reynoso on the pitch was just the first step. Now, he'll have to continue to build fitness and confidence, as well as re-integrate with a team that has grown tight-knit in the nearly four months since his suspension was announced.
"He’s still got a long way to go, but I think we saw glimpses of his quality tonight," said Heath. "He’s engaged. He wants to play and he showed us what we have been missing tonight a little bit."
With the home point earned, Minnesota are up to seventh place in the Western Conference table and haven't lost at Allianz Field since April 15. They've survived without their star man. Now that Reynoso is back in the fold, they can push for more. Heath had a bold comparison for his impact on the team, drawing a comparison to an NBA living legend.
"You think the Lakers are better with Lebron [James] on the field? I think so," the Englishman quipped.