Now back training at home for the rest of its regular season, Minnesota United will play on without two-time MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara.
“He certainly won’t be available for the next couple games,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said Thursday.
Opara wasn’t with his team in Orlando for the just-completed MLS is Back tournament, citing in late June a “pre-existing” condition. He has been training on his own at the team’s Blaine facility, where his teammates resumed their workouts Wednesday after they lost to Orlando City in the semifinals on Aug. 6.
Heath said the team and Opara will make a decision about his immediate future in the next week or two. He added the team will say more about Opara’s condition in the next 10 days.
He called Opara’s absence “an ongoing thing with Ike at this moment in time,” when asked about his status in a video call with reporters. Heath added, “I couldn’t give you a definitive answer on that.”
In February the Loons signed veteran Jose Aja for depth and insurance at the center-back position. This month they concluded months of negotiations to sign French center back Bakaye Dibassy, who can play that spot and left back as well.
The team signed Opara to a multiyear contract extension after last season, when he was named MLS’ 2019 Defender of the Year after the Loons significantly improved their defense during his first season there. He won the same award with Sporting Kansas City in 2017.
On their way
Heath said he’s hopeful Dibassy will arrive by the middle of next week. Once his immigration paperwork clears and he arrives, he’ll have to quarantine for 10 days before he gets on the field with his new team.
Argentine attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso will go through the same procedure when he signs and completes his paperwork.
Heath refuted media reports that Reynoso finally has signed but called his team “closer than we’ve ever been” in negotiations that date to last winter.
“We’ve waited a long time,” Heath said. “I just want to make sure we can get it done now and get him in here as soon as possible.”
Call it a loan?
Heath said he and his staff have discussed loaning out little-played, Young Designated Player Thomas Chacon, particularly if the team adds Reynoso and maybe one more player after that, too.
Chacon, who joined the team a year ago, turns 20 on Monday.
“It’s something we may have to look at,” Heath said. “The kid needs to play. It’s something we’ve spoke about. We don’t have a concrete decision one way or the other yet.”
• Heath said the Loons still might add a third player during the current transfer window beyond Dibassy and Reynoso. “We’ve got room to do it if something dropped our way that we felt would help us,” he said.
• Veterans Romain Metanire and Kevin Molino trained fully Thursday after each finished the MLS is Back tournament injured last week. Heath said “they’ll be fit and available” Aug. 21 for the team’s first regular-season game at home against Sporting Kansas City.