Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.

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Goofy offseason drama: Who is the real Miguel Ibarra?

Posted by: Jon Marthaler under Soccer Updated: January 30, 2014 - 2:01 PM

It can be hard to follow offseason news in the NASL. Rumors abound but confirmed reports are rare, and so league fans are left to try to piece together the truth from message boards, dashed-off tweets, and websites of questionable origin.

It's a difficulty that was once again driven home over the past few days by the utterly bewildering saga of Miguel Ibarra. Last Friday, the site bigapplesoccer.com reported that Ibarra, the attacking Minnesota United winger and member of the NASL Best XI last season, was joining the New York Red Bulls as a triallist as part of their preseason training.

This threw United fans slightly for a loop; while Minnesota's supporters are used to seeing players try out with MLS teams in the preseason, Ibarra looked to be a key player for United in 2014, and losing him would put yet another hole in Minnesota's already-bare attacking cupboard.

The next day, though, team president Nick Rogers took to Reddit, and then to Twitter, to denounce the rumors. "I am not willing to take the risk that a guy under contract with our club gets hurt auditioning for someone else," he wrote, in a Reddit comment.  "Makes no sense, particularly when the club says outright that they won't pay a transfer fee. How does that help our club?"

True to the discussion, on Monday, bigapplesoccer.com reversed their original story, claiming that New York had for some reason assumed that they could have Ibarra for free, and were not willing to pay for his services. It all seemed cut and dry... until Tuesday.

When the Red Bulls released their training roster, Miguel Ibarra was indeed on it, throwing the situation back into confusion. It took the morning to clear things up - it was a different Miguel Ibarra on the roster. Rather than an American midfielder, this Ibarra is a Colombian outside defender.

So was Ibarra - Minnesota's Ibarra - ever set to go to training with New York? It seems plausible, especially given that the Red Bulls are reported to still have interest in him, and today, Ibarra did an interview in which he said he wanted to go.

There you have it, in a nutshell: Miguel Ibarra is going on trial with New York, except not Minnesota's Miguel Ibarra, who was never set to go on trial, except that New York was interested in bringing him in, and he wanted to go, but Minnesota wouldn't allow it.

Confused? Welcome to the offseason in the NASL.

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