Minnesota United newcomers Thomas Chacon and Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat made their MLS debuts Thursday in the team’s 1-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City, one replacing the other in a second half spoiled by Erik Hurtado’s goal in the 88th minute.
Moimbe-Tahrat, a former French second-division left back acquired as a free agent in July, started on the left wing alongside Robin Lod and Ethan Finlay. The Loons used Ozzie Alonso, Kevin Molino and star Darwin Quintero as second-half substitutes.
Chacon replaced Moimbe-Tahrat in the 66th minute. He attempted one shot, committed two fouls and acclimated himself to new teammates, a new league and a new style of play.
The 19-year-old arrived in Minnesota last Saturday after an 18-hour journey from Uruguay.
“Obviously, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind for the kid, hardly knows anybody’s name,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “It’s one of them that we wanted to get him some action. He’s 19 years of age and he’s signed for five years, so we’ve got a lot more to see of him.”
Moimbe-Tahrat has trained with his new team for weeks — interrupted by a trip home to France to complete his U.S. immigration process — but saw his first MLS action as well.
Heath was asked if he started Moimbe-Tahrat in the midfield for defensive support.
“A little bit because he’s played fullback most of his career, so he’s used to that,” Heath said. “I thought considering he hasn’t played for a long time, I thought that he did well in the first half: Got forward, combined well with teammates, put some good crosses in the box.
“He’ll be better for having the hour or so that he has had as well.”
‘Weird’ return to KC
United veteran defender Ike Opara walked out of Children’s Mercy Park, where he played six seasons, with the jerseys of former SKC teammates Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza in hand.
Opara called the experience of playing so many friends “weird, it really is” now that he no longer calls Kansas City home.
“You could see them trying to run their mouths a bit or make jokes with me,” Opara said. “You just have to try and stay locked in and not lose yourself in the friendship. It’s definitely not easy. I wanted to win, and unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.”
Assistant coach added
United has hired Stewart Kerr, a former goalkeeper coach at Toronto, Vancouver and Orlando City. Kerr coached under Heath at Orlando City when Kerr was hired there in December 2015.
Kerr, 44, played professionally in his native Scotland and England, but a back injury ended his career at age 26. He has coached and developed goalkeepers since 2008, including England’s John Ruddy, Brazil’s Julio Cesar, Seattle’s Stefan Frei and Orlando City’s Joe Bendik.
The team said John Pascarella, its goalkeeper coach hired last year, will remain on the coaching staff.