Gabriel Mercado - Romario Ibarra - Argentina - Ecuador


After losing Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay earlier this season to injury, Minnesota United FC were on the market for an attacking piece heading into the Summer Transfer Window. On Monday, they added that piece by signing Ecuadorian winger Romario Ibarra.

The Loons reached an agreement Club Deportivo Universidad Catolica of Ecuador’s Serie A for the transfer of Romario Ibarra using Targeted Allocation Money. The Ecuador international midfielder will join the club pending receipt of his P1 Visa and ITC and will occupy an international spot on Minnesota’s roster.

“We have been looking for some change-of-game pace for the team and that’s one of the best things Romario does: He changes games with his pace and he challenges defenders,” said MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath. “He’s of a great age at 23 and he has had a good start to his career. He has just broken into the Ecuador national team, which is one of the premier national teams in South America. It’s a big step for us, a real investment on behalf of the club and I am delighted. Can’t wait to get him here, can’t wait to work with him.”

Ibarra, 23, began his youth career at Club Valle del Chota in his native Ecuador in 2006 before moving to Espoli and then Universidad Católica, where he made his professional debut in 2011. He spent time with Liga de Quito in 2013, but returned to Universidad Católica in 2014. Since then, he has scored 16 goals in 131 matches with the club.

“I know how difficult these types of players are for us to cope with,” added Heath. “It will make a change now that we have one of these players on our roster that we feel, with his skill and pace on the counterattack, can be a difference maker.”

At the international level, Ibarra received his first call-up to the Ecuador national team in October 2017 for the final round of CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Ibarra struck the equalizer in the 83rd minute of his first match against Chile, an eventual 2-1 defeat for Ecuador, and scored 38 seconds into the second game against Argentina (a 3-1 loss). His older brother Renato Ibarra, also an Ecuador international, currently plays for Club America in Liga MX.