Minnesota United FC general manager Manny Lagos and head coach Adrian Heath are headed to Panama on Wednesday to scout Club America striker Darwin Quintero, multiple league sources told MLSsoccer.com.
Quintero, 30, can play on the wing or up top and has spent the past four seasons with Club America in Mexico’s Liga MX, scoring 17 goals in league play. Lagos and Heath will attend the CONCACAF Champions League game between America and Panamanian side Tauro FC, the sources said.
While the trip comes in the days following news of an ACL injury to playmaker Kevin Molino, the fact that Heath is getting on a plane to Central America in the middle of a game week indicates this is a plan that has been in the works for some time.
Heath’s attendance on the trip might also indicate talks are far enough long in the process that sending a larger contingent to see Quintero may help move the deal along, or that Minnesota wants a final evaluation before taking the next steps toward a transfer. Club officials declined to comment.
Minnesota plays the Chicago Fire in their home opener Saturday afternoon (2 pm ET; MLS LIVE in US | MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).
Earlier this week, Heath told MLSsoccer.com that the team hoped to announce a couple of new players this week, but he declined to identify the players or positions the team was looking at in the market.
That Minnesota is chasing Quintero, who may have a higher price tag than those players, shows continued increased ambition after its pursuit of Deportivo Cali playmaker Nicolas Benedetti fell short this offseason. Minnesota has yet to sign a Designated Player since joining the league last season, but it is clearly in the market for one in this primary transfer window.
Quintero would add some attacking firepower to a team that will need it now that Molino is out for the season. The Colombian is a dynamic winger capable of beating defenders one-on-one in space and creating and scoring goals.
Quintero, though, is starting to slow down after being one of the more lively players in North America over the majority of his career. He has been out of America’s starting lineup since mid-January and has just four league goals over the past two seasons.
But the Colombian does have the talent to be a game-breaking player in MLS.
He’s probably the best player I played against in a competitive game. Nothing against MNUFC, but would have loved to see him in a system like TFC’s, ATL’s, CLB’s, or even LAFC. The league will be better with him in it wherever he goes though.— Steve Zakuani (@Zakuani11) March 13, 2018
Where Minnesota envisions playing him is not known, and there are some intriguing options. Minnesota already has Ethan Finlay on the right wing and strikers Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi up top. A switch to a 4-3-3 formation with Finlay and Quintero on the wings would make sense without a go-to playmaker, but Minnesota might also envision Quintero playing underneath a striker.
Before going to America, Quintero spent the previous six-plus seasons with Santos Laguna, reaching double digit goals in four of five seasons between 2009-10 and 2013-14.