Minnesota United has traded expansion draft pick goalkeeper Jeff Attinella to Portland in exchange for the Timbers’ second-round pick in the 2018 SuperDraft.
The deal reportedly is linked to Minnesota United trying to engineer the return of former Loon Miguel Ibarra, a fan favorite who played with the Loons for three seasons.
Portland drafted Ibarra as the 27th pick in the 2012 Major League Soccer supplement draft. When he was unable to catch on there, then-Timbers front office executive Amos Magee recommended him to United coach Manny Lagos, a longtime friend of Magee’s. Lagos is now Minnesota United’s sporting director and Magee is director of player personnel.
Ibarra’s impressive play with the Loons led to him earning the North American Soccer League’s Golden Ball award iin 2014 and call-ups to the U.S. men’s national team.
Nicknamed “Batman,’’ Ibarra was transferred to Club Leon, which plays in Liga MX in Mexico, for about $1 million in 2015. The deal also included two friendly matches in Minnesota. The second one, last June, drew more than 18,000 fans to Target Field.
Ibarra reportedly has not had much playing time in Mexico’s top league. While Minnesota reportedly acquired MLS rights to Ibarra, the club still needs to work out arrangements with him and his Mexican club to bring him back.
Attinella, 28, was the Loons’ fourth of five picks in the MLS expansion draft last week. He previously played with Real Salt Lake.
The Attinella trade is Minnesota United’s second deal involving an expansion draft pick.
Minnesota had traded No. 1 choice Chris Duvall, a defender with New York, to Montreal for Johan Venegas, whom the Impact had protected from the draft. Venegas, an offensive-minded midfielder, has played forward for his native Costa Rica in international matches.
Other players selected in the draft are midfielders Collen Warner and Mohammed Saeid, and forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen.
Minnesota United holds the first pick in the 2017 SuperDraft of college players on Jan. 13.
Training camp is set to begin Jan. 23. The club is expected to train in Arizona until early February. The New England Revolution has announced a preseason match with United on Jan. 31 in Casa Grande, Ariz.
The team expects to shift to Portland to train until the middle of the month, including three games in the Portland Tournament, which it played in last year. The regular season is expected to start in March, with the team playing its home matches at TCF Bank Stadium.
The club also is seeking to sign three-year Minnesota veteran Christian Ramirez, who led the NASL in scoring in two of the last three seasons.