Minnesota United newcomer Franco Fragapane needed eight minutes Saturday at FC Dallas to produce his first dangerous scoring chance and just 36 to score a goal in his MLS debut.
It didn't take Loons coach Adrian Heath long, either, to set the bar high for the Argentine they signed to fill Kevin Molino's left-side attacking role.
"I told him between now and the end of the season, we'll try and get 10 goals out of him," Heath said.
The last Loons player who set a goal for a specific number of goals was Paraguayan striker Luis Amarilla. He vowed to score 25 goals in 2020 and returned to the Ecuadorian league with two scored in an injury-filled season.
Fragapane played his first game Saturday. His scheduled debut three weeks ago at Real Salt Lake was delayed after paperwork for his transfer from his Talleres team wasn't finalized in time.
His shot inside the 18-yard penalty box in the eighth minute missed just wide of the goal. His 36th-minute goal came during a first half in which his Loons pushed forward hard before FC Dallas shoved back after halftime.
He swiped a rebound into an open goal after FC Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer's diving save stopped fellow newcomer Adrien Hunou's original shot. Teammate Jacori Hayes created the goal when he stole the ball across midfield and rushed downfield before his crossing pass found Hunou atop the penalty box.
"The truth is that it was beautiful to play and be able to score a goal for the team," Fragapane said afterward in Spanish translated by a team employee. "Honestly, I felt good and little by little, I'm starting to feel better."
Heath called Fragapane's debut "what we expected" from an Argentine first-division player who came to the Loons last month fit at the end of his South American season.
"He's smart, he gets in good spots," Heath said by video call after the game. "He's going to be a big pickup for us because he's got a real smart way of getting in the box at the right time. He could have had a couple others tonight. Probably could have done a bit better because he's a really good finisher."
Hunou had a scoring chance or two himself in his second MLS start and his first playing up front alongside Fragapane on his left and veteran Niko Hansen on his right.
"That was the stuff I wasn't telling you guys earlier this week," Hayes said. "We've got two good guys. Hopefully, they're scoring more goals for us."
Fragapane and Hunou played together Saturday, but without right-side attacker Robin Lod and mostly without star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso. Lod is away playing with the Finland national team in the European championship while striker Ramon Abila subbed into the game for Hunou and Reynoso entered for Wil Trapp in the 74th minute. Fragapane was subbed out five minutes later.
"The truth is they're very good players," Fragapane said. "The truth is we need a little bit more time to adjust to each other. I think game by game we're getting better and we're going to start playing better together."
Early yellow for Dibassy
Center back Bakaye Dibassy received a yellow card in Saturday's second minute, and later got turned around on FC Dallas teenager Ricardo Pepi's tying give-and-go goal.
"Once you get yourself a yellow card as early on as he did, it's a very nervy last 80 minutes, if you like," Heath said. "One of Dibassy's strengths is really pinching things and getting in front of people. Once you put yourself in that position, then you can't. It does affect the way you're going to play. But he made some really timely interceptions late on."