Minnesota United will be left frustrated by Saturday’s performance in Portland, but the Loons can take solace in their new star’s debut effort.
Making his first appearance with the club, newly signed Designated Player Darwin Quintero fired his first MLS goal while creating another in the Loons’ 3-2 loss to the Timbers on Saturday night. It was a strong performance for the former Club America attacker, who also led the Loons with five shots in the defeat.
After the match, Minnesota boss Adrian Heath admitted he was “frustrated” with the result, stating that he felt there was something there for the taking for the visiting Loons. However, the team is taking Quintero’s performance as a sign that there’s more to come from the team’s first DP.
“We said that we bought him because he makes things happen in the final third, and that’s what he did this evening,” Heath said. “He got himself a goal and he always looked dangerous when he got the ball.
“He was right in the right spot, bullying people. We’re really pleased with his first night of work for us, but he’ll get get better when we get to work with him a lot more and he gets a better understanding with the people who are around him.”
Quintero’s goal was an impressive one. After receiving the ball from Carter Manley, the winger turned around one of the league’s toughest defensive midfielders in Diego Chara. He then slipped right past veteran Zarek Valentin, finding the space to place a shot on the far post to pull the scoreline back to 2-1.
It was a sign of what Quintero can do. He’s tricky on the ball and quick with his feet. He adds even more pace in the attack and he can be deployed in a number of different ways within a Loons attack that appears a bit crowded.
“A quick play, I was able to beat the two defenders and score under the goalkeeper’s legs,” Quintero said of the finish. “But when you score and the team doesn’t win, it doesn’t excite you much.”
“Not very happy with the result — we wanted the win — but so it is. We have to keep working and think about what’s to come.”
The Timbers found another goal soon after from Fanendo Adi, but Quintero gave the Loons hope later. The Colombian’s ball over the top was flicked by Timbers defender Bill Poni Tuiloma, leaving Jake Gleason no chance in goal on what ended up as an own goal. That was all the Loons could muster, though, as the Timbers held on for a statement win of their own in their home opener.
While Minnesota’s performance was solid, the task is now figuring out how to fully integrate the Colombian star. On Saturday, he played centrally behind Christian Ramirez and alongside Ethan Finlay and Miguel Ibarra. Quintero often drifted towards the right, becoming a key facilitator in the Loons attack.
Options like Abu Danladi and Mason Toye remained on the bench, giving Heath a number of potential choices in the attack. The head coach says that the team is still working on its best system, but early signs of a Ramirez-Quintero partnership are positive.
“With more time on the field together, I think it will be a really complimentary piece,” Ramirez said of Quintero. “You saw with his goal. He can pick one out in an instant and change a game. I just have to continue to see what he likes, which areas and pockets he likes and play off of it and continue to create the runs because he’ll find them.”
“Really good. I think that little by little we’re getting to know each other, what each of us can bring together,” Quintero added. “So happy, because if we continue with that — this is the first game — we’ll make sure we get the win next time.”