Newly acquired Minnesota United central midfielder Kervin Arriaga and young South African striker Bongokuhle Hlongwane watched Sunday's 1-0 preseason loss at Portland from a Providence Park suite and are set to see their first game action for the Loons on Wednesday against Real Salt Lake.
Loons coach Adrian Heath said both players are finishing their medical examinations. Heath also said he's hopeful Paraguyan striker Luis Amarilla will arrive as well before the club finishes a four-team, three-game round-robin tournament on Saturday.
"That's the plan," Heath said.
Amarilla played with the Loons two years ago in a single season sidetracked by an ankle injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. They signed Hlongwane via transfer last month, but waited on his immigration paperwork.
Arriaga didn't accompany his Honduras national team for its 3-0 loss to the U.S. national team at frigid Allianz Field, but traveled to the United States after that to complete his transfer.
"We'll have a little look at them on Wednesday," Heath said about Hlongwane and Arriaga.
The Loons have pursued bringing Amarilla back to the club that now will have him, Hlongwane, former Loon Abu Danladi, designated player Adrien Hunou and first-round draft picks Justin McMaster and Tani Oluwaseyi at that striker position.
Danladi started Sunday's game instead of Hunou, who substituted for Danladi in the 79th minute. Hunou was delayed reporting for the start of preseason training last month because of COVID issues.
"I just think Abu is a little bit sharper at this moment," Heath said.
Veteran right back Romain Metanire started Sunday on a back line missing injured Bakaye Dibassy, but left the game in the 31st minute after he went to the turf clutching his right leg. Recently signed MLS veteran Oniel Fisher replaced him.
Heath afterward said Metanire didn't injure his leg or reinjure a hamstring he tore during the team's first-round playoff loss at Portland last fall.
"He's not really done an awful lot," Heath said. "We wanted to give him some time, but not push it too much."
Veteran reserve center back Brent Kallman started Sunday for Dibassy, whom Heath said has a "slight" quad strain.
"He'll be fit and healthy for opening day," Heath said about the Feb. 26 opener at Philadelphia.
One thing lacking
The Loons earned eight corner kicks and several other chances Sunday, but still lost when Timbers midfielder Yimmi Chara's fifth-minute goal stood as the winner.
Loons winger Robin Lod had at least two better chances himself. Winger Franco Fragapane had another at the back post.
Heath called himself "really, really pleased" with the effort, if not the outcome.
"Our form, our possession play was very good," Heath said. "The only thing we lacked was the final goal. You're disappointed but there's a lot of real positives because I thought we were far and away the best team today."
• With Ozzie Alonso gone to Atlanta, defensive midfielder Wil Trapp wore the captain's armband. "We haven't decided yet, but I would think it's really likely," Heath said when asked if that's permanent.
• Tyler Miller started in goal after he missed the playoff loss at Portland in November because he tested COVID positive. Dayne St. Clair started that game instead. "I can't really think of anything Tyler had to do for the whole game," Heath said Sunday.