Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath doesn't mention Miguel Ibarra much. Most of his comments these days center on Colombian designated players Darwin Quintero and Angelo Rodriguez.
But that doesn't mean the winger goes about his business on the field quietly unnoticed. That's actually not possible.
Heath said the language barrier from Spanish to English is a real challenge for many of his key players such as Quintero, Rodriguez, Alexi Gomez and Romario Ibarra. That's where captain Francisco Calvo and Miguel Ibarra come in clutch.
"Every time the coaches want to talk to them, they pull me aside so I can make sure they understand what they want from them," Ibarra said, adding he also helps his teammates off the field to make sure their families are adjusting.
Heath, who was on the other side of the language issue when he played in Spain during his career, knows the importance of a teammate such as Ibarra.
"The likes of Miggy ... [he's] sort of the bond, the glue that keeps a lot of it together," Heath said. "And the fact that Miggy's been here a long time and knows what the city is and about, I think [he's] been really important to them."
That added responsibility also seems to have helped Ibarra's production. He's scored seven goals with eight assists in 29 games this year with 27 starts. And there might be more ahead. Ibarra called himself a "whole different player" this year compared to last when he had just three goals and four assists with 20 starts.
"I set a goal for myself this year, which was 10 and 10. I think I'm getting close to there, and maybe I can reach it with the games that we have [left]," Ibarra said, adding he has also challenged himself to be more consistent and help out the team both offensively and defensively. "My energy, my stamina of getting up and down the field, it's really big. And [Heath] always tells me, make sure I'm always busy around them because the left backs are not going to want to be chasing me around all over the place."
Heath said Ibarra has proved this year that he is an important player for United.
"His performances on the field have dictated that," Heath said. "If you haven't got the energy to get in both boxes, that’s a different thing. He has. And if he can get in the box enough, he should be looking to get in double figures every year because he's a good finisher when he gets in there as well.
"He's had a really good season, and he needs to finish it off now in the next four games."
As far as some of those new signings Ibarra is helping, Heath said their best days are still ahead next season after they've all acclimated to a new country and league.
Of note: The club announced Wednesday that it had sold and distributed more than 50,000 tickets to to the final game at TCF Bank Stadium on Oct. 21 against the LA Galaxy. That means the team should break the attendance record for a standalone soccer game in Minnesota involving a local team, which stands at 49,572 from a 1976 Minnesota Kicks game.
Also: It looks like Romario Ibarra (hamstring), Abu Danladi (hamstring) and Collin Martin (ankle) are all looking questionable still for the game on Saturday at Philadelphia.