Minnesota United starting striker Luis Amarilla hasn’t played a game since he was a second-half substitute Sept. 2 at Houston and won’t do so again this season now that he’s undergoing ankle surgery this week.
Will he play again for the Loons? They obtained him on loan this season from an Argentina club and have the option to buy his rights at season’s end, which is over sooner than he expected because of that lasting injury.
He started five of seven games he played and scored twice, one goal each in a pair of season-opening victories at Portland and San Jose way back in March.
“We certainly saw enough of him at the beginning to think we found somebody,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “We thought he fit the bill what we were looking for: He’s younger. He’s full of life and energy. He’s lively in the box. That’s what we’d been looking for.”
With Amarilla, 25, out injured, the Loons have struggled to get production from their strikers who have battled injury or been traded. Mason Toye was dealt to Montreal after he requested a trade, Aaron Schoenfeld is back from injury and Kei Kamara was acquired from Colorado by trade in September.
Heath searched for another striker who’d be a long-term play before the current transfer window closed last week.
“Obviously, it has been frustrating for the boy and frustrating for us, but we will certainly evaluate it at the end of the season when Luis has had his operation,” Heath said. “He should be fit hopefully when we start preseason next year. We’ll speak to the appropriate people and more important speak to the boy. He has indicated he has really enjoyed it here and would like to stay.”
The Loons played on against Chicago Fire FC without center-back Michael Boxall, who until Wednesday had played all 19 regular-season games and all 1,710 minutes.
Neither he nor left back Chase Gasper started on the back line in a season disrupted by positive COVID-19 tests and on a night that came after Sunday’s game at Sporting Kansas City was canceled.
Veteran center-back Bakaye Dibassy moved to Gasper’s starting spot, Brent Kallman and Jose Aja started at center back and Romain Metanire at right back. Marlon Hairston started next to captain Jan Gregus for injured Ozzie Alonso in the midfield. Attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso was a sub available to come off the bench while Heath started Robin Lod, Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay behind Kamara.
Former Loons defender Francisco Calvo and goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth started Wednesday for Chicago against their old mates and former defender Wyatt Omsberg was designated a sub available off the bench.
The Loons scrimmaged the Fire in Florida before the midsummer MLS is Back tournament.
“We saw them down at Disney,” Heath said. “Wyatt’s really pleased he’s got in [the gameday 18]. Bobby is enjoying his football. Obviously, when you’re not playing, it’s frustrating. It’s not a personal decision. I hope they all do really well, and I mean that.”