In his first interview with local media since he missed four months of training and games, Minnesota United star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso on Tuesday attributed his long absence to matters he needed to resolve with his 4-year-old daughter back in Argentina.

He also said he never considered not returning to Minnesota and MLS, where he has a four-year contract signed last September with a $2 million salary this season that could last until 2026.

"No, that never crossed my mind," Reynoso told reporters in Spanish through a team interpreter. "… It's great to play here in Minnesota with all the people who support me and all my teammates who support me. Thank God that I'm back where I'm very happy."

Minnesota United officials said Reynoso's absence was because of a personal matter after he didn't report to preseason training with his teammates in early January. MLS suspended Reynoso without pay in February for failing to report.

On Tuesday, Reynoso called it "the problem with my family, a problem with my daughter. Thankful to God that I was able to solve it and be here in Minnesota, which is what I wanted most, to be here."

Reynoso, 27, returned to Minnesota and reported to the team in early May. He missed the MLS season's first 15 games and has played in the past two games, both in a second-half substitute's role.

Loons coach Adrian Heath said Reynoso is fit enough to start Saturday at Real Salt Lake after participated in two and sometimes three training sessions a day for the past six weeks.

The question is whether he will or if Heath thinks it's best for him to come on in the second half when he can "stretch" the game with fresh legs.

Reynoso said his family remains in Argentina.

"They're not here," he said. "But thank the Lord my daughter and my family are well, which is very important, that they're doing well and I can be happy and content in Minnesota. I still have the support from family."

Reynoso said he apologized to his teammates shortly after he arrived back in Minnesota in May. He played 25 minutes in his season debut as a second-half sub June 3 against Toronto FC and the entire second half against CF Montreal on June 10.

"I think his intensity has been better," Heath said. "He has always relied on his natural ability. He has come in. He's very lean. He wants to keep himself in that condition. You can't excuse what happened to him, but I've got to say that since he has been back, his attitude has been first class."

Reynoso said his absence was unrelated to legal issues dating to December 2021, when he was arrested and accused of assaulting a teenage boy with a gun.

"No, thankfully everything is fine," he said. "I'm here because everything was solved. For over a year now, that was something that was able to be solved. I'm always grateful to the club that also supported me."

Reynoso thanked his teammates, coaches, the team's support staff and Loons supporters who greeted him with a rousing ovation when he made his season debut at Allianz Field.

"I feel at home, this is my home," he said. "The club has supported me so much in every moment. I have given my soul and my life so that this club continues to grow and can achieve important things."

Showing support

Heath spoke with defender Michael Boxall after Boxall's New Zealand national team declined to play the second half of an international friendly against Qatar in Austria on Monday. The team did so after New Zealand Football said Boxall was "racially abused" by an opponent and the referee took no disciplinary action at halftime.

"We know who we're dealing with," Heath said of Boxall. "There can't be a more consummate professional. He's just a great guy, a great professional, so he'll have all our support. Knowing Boxy and the way he is, he just said it's something he wished wouldn't have happened and we move on."

Boxall is expected back from international duty to the team's training ground by Thursday.

Bongi coming back

South African national team player Bongokuhle Hlongwane also is expected back from international duty and available for Saturday's game at Real Salt Lake.

Starting goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and midfielder Joseph Rosales likely will miss multiple games because of Gold Cup play that starts Saturday and runs through July 16. St. Clair will be with his Canadian team and Rosales with Honduras. Rosales' countryman, Loons midfielder Kervin Arriaga, has not been called to the Honduran team.