MARIETTA, Ga. — Don’t look now, but after winning four of their last six matches, Minnesota United FC have vaulted up the Western Conference standings. At the MLS All-Star break, they sit just three points out of a playoff position.
Key to the resurgence has been the inspired play of Minnesota’s first-ever Designated Player signing, Darwin Quintero, who’s been in scintillating form during Minnesota’s recent tear. In the past six matches, Quintero has six goals and six assists, while scoring in each of Minnesota’s four wins over that stretch.
“I think he's really happy here and his family is happy here,” said Minnesota United captain and MLS All-Star Francisco Calvo. “He feels comfortable, and for the team, he's going to help us a lot. We want more from him, every day and every game, and that's what he's showing us. He wants to win everything.”
Calvo said, after Monday’s training session ahead of the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET | ESPN, UniMás; TSN, TVAS in Canada), that Minnesota feel motivated by the sense that much of the league does not look at them as an opponent that needs to be respected. Calvo, for one, says that’s absolutely fine with him.
“To be honest, I think most teams in this league look at us like, 'Oh we're gonna go and beat Minnesota United easily,'” explained Calvo. “I prefer for every team to keep looking at us like that, and then if we beat them, they will be surprised.
“Look at [LAFC],” Calvo continued. “They didn't bring [Carlos] Vela and some of their guys and we score five. And that happens with a lot of teams. They think they're going to beat us easily, but I think it won't be that easy. I prefer they keep looking at us like that, and if we can make the playoffs, it's a new tournament.”
In order to make a postseason push—which Calvo says is the team’s No. 1 goal this season—Minnesota won't merely rely on its defiant team attitude. Calvo praised Minnesota ownership and management Monday for continuing to improve the training and playing conditions for the players, and even hopes they can add more talent to the roster during the current transfer window.
“As a player, you're going to get better day-by-day if you're training on a good field with good conditions,” said Calvo. “I think also the coaches and staff are bringing in good players. They've brought in Darwin [Quintero], they brought Alexi Gomez, they brought Romario [Ibarra] and I think they're going to bring in some more. That's good for the team.”