At this point, it’s simply what’s expected of Emanuel Reynoso.

Minnesota United FC’s star midfielder provided his third brace of the 2022 MLS season in as many weeks during Saturday night’s 2-0 win over D.C. United, moving the 2022 MLS All-Star to nine goals and five assists on the year.

The Argentine playmaker arrived at MNUFC in September 2020 from Argentina’s Boca Juniors for a reported $5 million transfer fee, and he’s on pace for a career year that’s ignited a growing Landon Donovan MLS MVP case.

“I’ve always said that he has MVP talent, which we know,” head coach Adrian Heath said. “The one thing that I’ve always said to him, lacking and going back to when he was at Boca Juniors, he should score more goals. He’s a really good finisher.

“People might think the second one was a fantastic first touch and he knows that the keeper is mid-stride to get across to try and take the near post away. He’s a quality player. If he can get 10 to 15 goals every season, then we’ve got one of the best players in the league on our hands.”

The MVP race isn’t on Reynoso’s mind, he’s quick to point out, instead referencing improved form the Loons have found. With the 26-year-old Designated Player leading the way, they’re on a 4W-0L-1D run that’s pushed them toward the Western Conference’s top-four spots depending on how other Week 21 games unfold Sunday.

“I’m going through a really lovely moment right now, individually, and also for the group that is securing a lot of points,” Reynoso said. “We’re climbing up. We’re very happy. Especially with the confidence that the team gives me, the responsibility I get from the coach to keep getting in the area, try to keep shooting, and that, incrementally, is my goal. Keep growing and keep helping the team.”

For Minnesota, who got a two-assist performance from DP striker Luis Amarilla, it’s no secret their fortunes are closely tied to Reynoso’s production levels. Few players in MLS are as central as the No. 10.

Now, with 13 games left in their regular season, the Loons are on pace for a fourth-straight Audi MLS Cup Playoffs appearance. And Reynoso plans to keep rewarding the faith shown in him.

“I came here to Minnesota, this club opened its doors to me,” Reynoso said. “Keep working and hopefully we keep growing in this league. The coach gives me a lot of opportunities to get minutes and I try to show it on the field.”

Heath and Rooney

Minnesota beat a D.C. United side missing star forward Taxi Fountas, and they’re still awaiting head coach Wayne Rooney’s debut on the sidelines as the Englishman’s work visa gets sorted. The Black-and-Red are in flux as names ranging from Luis Suarez to Jesse Lingard get linked to the current Wooden Spoon frontrunners (bottom of league table), emphasizing the project’s breadth that awaits Rooney.

In the meantime, Heath cherished an exchange with his fellow countryman on Friday. They both enjoy legendary status at Premier League side Everton, who Minnesota will host Wednesday at Allianz Field in an international friendly.

“I spent a few hours with him last night and he’s very excited about the challenge,” Heath said postgame. “I think that he learned more about his team again today because obviously midweek they were at home.

“I think he knows he’s got a lot of hard work to do, but if you look at the start he had, I thought he did a great job with ridiculously difficult circumstances at Derby County. You know, he had a 21-point deduction before he started. So he’s really keen, he’s really motivated and I’m sure that the players will respond by having someone of that magnitude on the sidelines.”