The Loons began their 2023 season with a 1-0 win at FC Dallas on Saturday evening, earning all three points despite being without their Argentine talisman. More than three weeks ago, the All-Star midfielder was suspended without pay by Major League Soccer for failure to report to preseason camp.
While there’s little clarity beyond that update – head coach Adrian Heath referred to the “disappointment of the Reynoso situation” postgame – Minnesota started the new campaign on a high note.
“With the Reynoso situation and everything that’s gone on, this press conference would have been a lot different if the result would’ve gone against us, but it speaks volumes of the attitude and the fortitude of the group,” Heath said at Toyota Stadium. “I thought their discipline was outstanding at times, and I couldn’t be more pleased with them.”
Minnesota’s breakthrough came in the 48th minute through Mender Garcia, the Colombian forward they signed ahead of the 2022 Secondary Transfer Window closing last August. Garcia was making just his seventh MLS start, taking the striker’s reins in Luis Amarilla’s absence (currently obtaining his U.S. Green Card).
In Reynoso’s continued absence, creative duties mainly fell on Robin Lod’s shoulders. Minnesota persevered, even without their No. 10 who’s supplied 16 goals and 28 assists in 71 regular-season games since arriving from Boca Juniors midway through the 2020 campaign.
“I couldn’t be more pleased for the players because we’ve had a difficult offseason, you can’t deny that with what’s gone on,” Heath said. “This week even, two of the starting players are not here. Then on Thursday we had the snow. Nobody trains on Thursday. It’s been a really difficult mental week to cope with, but as I say, the players have been absolutely unbelievable and I’m so pleased for them.”
Center back Miguel Tapias debuted for the Loons alongside captain Michael Boxall, the 26-year-old Mexican arriving earlier this month from Liga MX side Pachuca. Heath said Tapias will be a “top, top MLS player” and Minnesota are hoping to get “one or two things wrapped up” on the transfer front to continue completing the squad.
In the meantime, with Reynoso out of the picture, Heath takes solace in his side getting a result when the odds were seemingly stacked against them.
“In England we call it a ‘coupon buster,’ when you play and everybody expects you to get beat and then you come away and get a result,” said the English manager. “The most important thing is, the only people that matter are me and the coaching staff and the players, and they believed that we could get a result today, and that’s what we’ve gone and done, so hats off to them.”
Heath added: “I didn’t see anybody who had said that they’re fancying Minnesota today as they normally do. I take a lot of satisfaction from that. You know what I’m like. You know I like being in a position to stick it up to people sometimes.”