He had a well-publicized airport arrival Wednesday. His new teammates posted photos with him and of his new locker at the training facility, and the man himself even shared pictures of him in his new kit Thursday. But Minnesota United finally made it official Saturday.
Darwin Quintero is a Loon.
The club’s first-ever designated player will be able to play once his visa and international transfer certificate clear. A designated player is a highly talented and usually offensive player the team can pay beyond the usual salary cap limits. A team can have up to three.
The club’s official news release did not disclose the financial aspects or length of the contract, but the league’s official website reported the transfer fee was $200,000 and Quintero’s salary would be about $1.5 million per year.
“Excited he’s in the building,” coach Adrian Heath said after practice Friday at the National Sports Center. “He’s done a little bit with the guys this morning. He’s got great quality. The rest of the group are really pleased to have him. So we’re really looking forward to getting him on the field.”
The 30-year-old, a Colombia native who is 5-5 and 142 pounds, started his pro career in 2005 and has played for teams in Colombia and Russia. He’s played in the Mexican first division since 2009, first with Santos Laguna and then with Club America since 2014. He scored 66 goals throughout his time with Santos Laguna and won a league title and a Copa MX. His production and playing time dipped at Club America, where he played 146 matches in all competitions and scored 27 goals with 23 assists. He won consecutive CONCACAF Champions League titles with America in 2015-16.
Quintero has also represented Colombia at the national team level.
Quintero won’t speak to the media until an introductory news conference 2 p.m. Monday. He will also do a meet and greet with fans 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Target by Allianz Field.
With Quintero taking shirt No. 25, center back Michael Boxall took No. 15 to wear. That means center back Bertrand Owundi Eko’o took No. 27.
While Boxall was away on national team duty this past weekend, he wore the captain’s armband for the first time in his professional career in New Zealand’s 1-0 loss to Canada.
Boxall joked that his selection was almost “by default” with the young squad called up for this game, including his own brother’s first time at a team camp. But the center back said he and the other more veteran players have the important job of helping transition the team into a new era, as New Zealand is already looking forward to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
“Football is you want to play at the World Cup, so I think I’ve got one more cycle in me,” Boxall said. “But obviously, coming to MLS makes you think about it because you don’t want to be missing games under any circumstances. It would be nice if MLS stopped for FIFA windows. But it does make it a harder decision because of what you could potentially be giving up by missing out on club games.”