The United Beat
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Minnesota United has targeted Argentine attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso for its third and final designated-player slot at a position of need after it traded star Darwin Quintero in November.

On Wednesday United coach Adrian Heath confirmed South American news reports that his team is pursuing Reynoso, who plays for the Boca Juniors club in Buenos Aires. He's left in the above photo, fighting Jose Ayovi of Ecuador's Liga Deportiva Universitaria for the ball during a first leg Copa Libertadores quarterfinal soccer match in Quito, Ecuador last August.

United is seeking a young player at that position and Reynoso, nicknamed Bebelo, is 24. It’s an acquisition that would cost the Loons their remaining DP spot and millions of dollars.

“Hopefully, in the next couple days, we’ll have more information,” Heath said. “Hopefully, we can get something done because that’s the type of player, type of age that we’re looking for.”

Such an acquisition would help United keep up in a league in which player transfer fees and salaries are rising fast.

“If you’re standing still in this league, you’re going backwards,” Heath said. “It seems as if everything is ramping up and we have to go with it.”

Reynoso is signed with his Argentinian club through June 2022. He has one goal and three assists in 13 games in the country’s Superliga. Transfermarkt ranks him fifth-best player on his team and 22nd best in his league.

Reynoso’s acquisition price depends on whether the deal is a loan or transfer, Heath said. Technical director Mark Watson is in Argentina working to get a deal done.

“The caliber of player we’re looking at, if we were to bring him would be the most we’ve ever spent on players,” Heath said.

Amarilla signing imminent

Heath also said on Wednesday he’s hopeful the signing of 24-year-old Paraguayan striker Luis Amarilla will be finalized in time for him to train with United in Florida next week.

“We’re just waiting for a couple pieces of paperwork with the league to go in,” he said.

Heath also is looking to add another player or two, including a center back who could either start at one of those positions or provide depth behind 2019 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara and veteran Michael Boxall.

Finlay "very optimistic" for labor dealent

United player union rep Ethan Finlay said Wednesday that he’s hopeful players and owners will reach agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement by its Jan. 31 expiration date or not long thereafter.

“We’ve made great progress up to this point, but some of the hardest conversations have come down now to the end,” he said.

The two sides have negotiated on fundamental issues such as free agency and salaries among many other matters, including chartered air travel.

Finlay participated in bargaining sessions in November and December and will speak to United management about attending what he calls “big” negotiating sessions two days next week in Washington, D.C. Teammate Brent Kallman also has participated in recent union meetings.

Finlay said he’s both “very optimistic” and resolved that players won’t be “held hostage” late in negotiations before the last deal was reached in 2015. He said talks could extend beyond Jan. 31 because of progress already made.

“We’re prepared whatever happens,” he said. “We’re ready to make a deal that’s acceptable.”

Will it be stay or go, Angelo?

Striker Angelo Rodriguez was at the team’s Blaine training facility Wednesday, but did not train with the team because of what Heath called a sore back.

He’s expected to be loaned or traded. “Hopefully, we’ll have more news in the next 24 to 36 hours,” Heath said after training on Wednesday.

Opara on his way

Opara remained away Wednesday on a family matter, but Heath said he’s hopeful Opara will return to training Thursday.

Rookie Billingsley breaking fitness records

First-round pick Noah Billingsley, a defender who played at UC-Santa Barbara, trained Wednesday after he completed fitness testing Tuesday. “When we got told he was the fittest player who ever went through Santa Barbara, we raised a few eyebrows,” Heath said. “But then he did his fitness workout and I think he broke every record that we’ve got.”

United signs 6-6 St. Paul sophomore

United officially signed its first homegrown player Wednesday, 15-year-old goalkeeper Fred Emmings, who stands nearly 6-6 and is sophomore at St. Paul Central High School. “Hopefully not too much taller,” he answered when asked how tall he’ll be when he grows up.

Lod in shape for first full MLS season

Billingsley’s testing surpassed even midfielder Robin Lod, who impressed. “It’s good to be in that good shape, even before the preseason so it’s easier to work hard,” said Lod, who joined United in the middle of last season.