Hey there, this is Jerry Zgoda from the Star Tribune, subbing in at the 78th minute for Megan through the weekend.
Minnesota United brought a Portuguese translator to its Thursday training session in Blaine for the first time since Fernando Bob was acquired in August. Some highlights from conversations with Bob, Maximiano and Ibson:
Acquired on loan from his Brazilian team in February, 23-year-old midfielder Maximiano started and played all 90 minutes the last three games alongside Bob after he had been an unused sub in the five matches before that.
The two countrymen and fellow midfielders have formed something of a partnership in those three games although both are suspended for Saturday’s home match against New York City F.C. Maximiano said Thursday that he wants to return to Minnesota and MLS for next season with his wife and 9-month-old daughter.
“One of my goals is to stay here,” he said through the translator. “My family is well-adapted. I’ve got a daughter, it’s very important to stay here in the U.S. The MLS is growing every year. I feel like it is important to stay.”
He said MLS’ quality of play is “getting higher and higher every year. A lot of people around the world are watching more and more of the MLS, even Brazilian players back in Brazil talk about the MLS. I believe farther down the road, it will be hard for people to make it to this league.”
Maximiano called the competition here a “mix between quality and strength” and said, “The Brazilian guys on the team are adapting very well.”
He called their shared language playing beside Bob important, too.
“There’s a closer communication because of the language,” Maximiano said. “That’s very important in a game. When you understand each, I think it’s a good partnership. The game is very fast, so it’s like seconds you need to think. A lot of times you just have to say, `Bob, right, right, left, left.’ Then not having to think that in English helps.”
A product of the same Brazilian team from which Maximiano came years later, Bob has started the last three games since making his United debut Sept. 12 at D.C. United. Teammate Michael Boxall called him “outstanding” in last Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Portland, United’s first game at home in TCF Bank Stadium since Aug. 4.
Bob played a long, lovely ball over the Timbers’ defense to Darwin Quintero, who then found Romario Ibarra free for one of United’s three first-half goals. It was the first of Ibarra’s two goals that night.
Bob won’t play Saturday because of a red card obtained late in the game against Portland. Maximiano is suspended as well because of accumulated yellow cards. Ibarra is a longshot to play, too, because of a hamstring injury sustained on his second and final goal 39 minutes into the game. The injury isn’t as bad as first feared but probably will sideline him Saturday.
[Maximiano got in the face of referee Dave Gantar after midfielder Fernando Bob was shown a red card last week. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky]
Bob deemed the red card for a high elbow to a Portland player “a bit excessive. It was a normal play in the game.”
Bob calls his play alongside Maximiano these last three games “a big partnership, an important partnership.” So, too, is the presence of countryman Ibson on his side.
“The way he plays, to know the way Ibson plays, it plays a big role in partnership,” Bob said. “To adapt is very important, because I don’t speak English yet. This is a new place and a new country, so it’s very important to have people here who can help me.”
Bob caught United coach Adrian Heath’s eye when his Brazilian Ponte Preta team played Heath’s Orlando team going on four years ago now. Bob was brought to Minnesota in August on a free transfer on his way back from a shoulder injury sustained last November.
“Coming from injury, right now everything is starting over again,” Bob said. “I’m not 100 percent yet.”
Bob called that chance connection with Heath “motivation” to come to Minnesota, a move he calls “important” and a “new experience.”
When asked if he believes he has done enough in just three games to win a starting spot, Bob said, “There are a lot of great players on the roster, so we’ll leave that for the coach to analyze. He makes the decisions and chooses whoever is best for the moment in the games.”
A few other things:
* A big cartoon fan since he was a kid, Bob took his nickname from “Bobby’s World,” the 1990s animated children’s series created by comedian Howie Mandel. Asked if he and Bobby share some of the same personality, Bob said, “No, no, we just like weird names.”
Quipped teammate Ibson, “Because they look similar.”
* Maximiano on his return to full health from an ACL tear in June 2017 now that he has played three entire games: “I’m very happy. Physically, I needed those games to get the fitness I have right now. I feel 100 percent. When you’re happy, the results are positive. I’m very happy that I’m very healthy.”
* United brought back forward Mason Toye from Colorado Springs in the United Soccer League. He’s been splitting time with the second-division team since first going there in August.
*Midfielder Collin Martin is out with a right ankle injury.