After failing at first, Minnesota United tried again, and the Loons will likely have their first high-profile signing within the week.
Darwin Quintero, a striker for Mexican team Club America, is expected to be United’s first designated player, which is a talented and usually offensive player whom a team will pay beyond its usual salary cap limitations.
Darwin Quintero scores and celebrates
Quintero, 30, arrived in Minnesota about 9 p.m. Wednesday. True North Elite, one of the Loons’ supporters’ groups, tweeted Tuesday night about this rumored arrival in hopes of garnering fans to show up at Terminal 2 of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to welcome him to the state.
The source said Quintero will have a physical and finalize negotiations with the club on Thursday. If all goes as planned, the club will make an official announcement soon thereafter.
The timing suggests that it’s not likely he would be available to play this Saturday in the Loons’ 7 p.m. match against Atlanta United at TCF Bank Stadium.
United’s front office, after not signing any designated players (DP) in its inaugural MLS season last year, had planned to add one or two DPs this offseason. But the deals never came to fruition.
Most notably, the club pursued Colombian midfielder Nicolas Benedetti with a reported offer in the $6 million range for the 20-year-old.
According to last year’s salary data from the MLS Players Association, United’s current top-paid player is injured playmaker Kevin Molino, who earned guaranteed compensation of $402,504 in 2017. The cost for designated players is considerably greater because it includes a transfer fee that can amount to several million dollars.
Quintero, a Colombia native who is 5-5 and 141 pounds, started his pro career in 2006 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, but his production and playing time dipped at Club America, where he scored 17 goals.
Coach Adrian Heath has been hinting at adding at least two more players before the MLS transfer window closes May 1, namely offensive players who could immediately compete for minutes on the first team.
With United’s Abu Danladi and Francisco Calvo earning green cards earlier this week, United has two international roster spots to use. Quintero will take one.