ATLANTA – Darwin Quintero has made a tremendous first impression in MLS, and now he’s set to show off the skills that have delighted Minnesota United fans for months when he takes the field at the league’s marquee summer event.
Quintero was one of two replacements on the roster for the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, but it’s hard to say he’s not deserving of the honor, given his scintillating start with the Loons. He has started every single game for Minnesota since debuting on April 17, and comes into Wednesday’s game (7:30 pm ET | ESPN, UniMás, TSN, TVAS) with nine goals and eight assists in those 17 appearances.
The move to Minnesota certainly seems to have rejuvenated Quintero, who previously played in Liga MX for Santos Laguna and then Club América.
The Colombian forward terrorized Liga MX defenses during his time at Santos, in addition to causing plenty of heartbreak for MLS teams in Concacaf Champions League play. But after scoring 50 goals and winning a title for Santos, his move to América proved to be less fruitful as he saw his production and playing time decrease, unable to make the same impact he had with his previous club.
Now, his spring move north may just have gotten Quintero out of the doldrums.
“Yes, the truth is that [I’m enjoying myself again],” he told reporters prior to Tuesday’s All-Star training session. “You’re always looking for that, no? That you enjoy it, that you feel that you’re that important guy. You sometimes lose that over time with a team.”
The new lease on life in Minnesota has now given Quintero the chance to face one of the world’s most illustrious teams in Juventus, and he sees his presence at the game as an affirmation of what he’s accomplished so far in the league.
“It’s always important that your name is in this class of events, even more given who the opponent is,” Quintero said. “And yes, I’ll try to enjoy the moment.”
While he and the All-Stars will be looking to show they can hang with Italy’s most successful club, Quintero did caution against reading too much into the meaning of one game.
“You’re not going to show what the league is in just one game. This is a spectacle and we have to enjoy it as such,” he said, adding that one can only garner so much from the outside looking in. “Since I’ve been here, I realize that the level is not as low as many people think. There are players with lots of pedigree, playing at a very high level, that contribute a lot. Once you’re here, you realize that.”
Once he returns to his club, it won’t be long before Quintero and his family face a challenge perhaps as great as any he has faced in his career: dealing with a Minnesota winter. But the 30-year-old is not about to let it sour what looks to be a very promising tenure with the Loons.
“We’ll start our adaptation to the cold from the beginning. We’ll see what happens when winter arrives,” he said. “It’s in my plans to stay here for several years, continue doing good things and leave a good memory.”