While his signing in late March didn’t create the kind of buzz that Zlatan and Rooney have since joining Major League Soccer, Darwin Quintero’s impact since joining Minnesota United as the team’s first designated player can’t be understated.
Through 20 games, the 31-year-old Colombian has 10 goals and 13 assists.
“Anybody who hits double digits in goals and assists in a season in our league is in rare company,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said at his weekly press conference on Wednesday. “It’s a hard thing to do.”
The Liga MX veteran who played for Santos Laguna and Club America is, in Curtin’s words, “unpredictable” and “very dangerous.”
“Number one in the league in terms of take-ons and when he gets you in space he’s going to try and dribble by you so you need multiple people around him,” Curtin said. “When he gets a head of steam and he runs at you whether it was his time in Mexico watching him play he’s a game-changer.”
The Union are coming off a strong defensive performance in a scoreless draw in Columbus with Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty pairing in central defense for just the first time since late July.
The game was a much-needed bounce back after a nightmare in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for Trusty and center back partner Jack Elliott.
“For the kid to bounce back the way he did against Columbus on short rest...he’s done great for us,” Curtin said of Trusty, who leads the league in minutes played for field players with 2,790. “He’s had a really strong year and we’re looking now for these final three games for him to be a leader back there for us.”
With their final two games against league rivals New York Red Bulls and New York City awaiting after the international break, the Union will want to seal a playoff berth up on Saturday with a win over the Loons.
Limiting Quintero and a Minnesota attack that has just one win away from home this season but has scored two more goals than the Union will be critical.