ST. PAUL, Minn. — Darwin Quintero announced via Twitter Monday that Minnesota United FC had declined his contract option for the 2020 Major League Soccer season. However, a team spokesperson told Pro Soccer USA Minnesota had not declined Quintero’s option, but did decline to comment further. MNUFC has until Novemeber 21 to make a decision regarding Quintero’s current contract.
The first designated player in Minnesota’s brief MLS history, Quintero was the team’s highest-paid in 2019, earning $1.75 million in guaranteed compensation. At 32 years of age and following a drop-off in production, there are questions about Quintero’s future in Minnesota. Those questions remain unanswered despite Quintero’s statement on social media.
After two years of living great experiences in @MNUFC I want to inform you that the technician and the club made the decision not to validate the renewal option. I want to thank you for all that was lived, were two years of much learning .My best wishes and thanks for everything pic.twitter.com/X9jjz7iuLb
— darwin quintero (@darwinJR3) November 11, 2019
Debuting for Minnesota in 2018, Quintero tallied an impressive 11 goals and 15 assists while starting all 27 of his league appearances. This past season, those totals fell to 10 goals and five assists in 30 MLS games with four of those goals coming from the penalty spot. Quintero was more prolific in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup, earning golden boot honors in the tournament by scoring six times over five contests. However, Quintero was left out of the starting XI in the final, which Minnesota lost 2-1 at Atlanta United.
Quintero stated he was frustrated and upset with coming off the bench in what proved the biggest game of MNUFC’s 2019 season.
Quintero’s statement on Twitter came shortly after the league’s offseason trade window opened Monday afternoon. With Minnesota’s denial of his release, a trade involving Quintero remains a possibility, and his name has been mentioned as a potential target for other MLS teams. Minnesota retaining Quintero for 2020 remains a possibility, but given the conflicting statements by player and team, whether Quintero wishes to remain in Minnesota is another unanswered question.
With former technical director Manny Lagos promoted to a larger role to oversee development of MNUFC’s academy and eventual reserve team, the brain trust now tasked with first-team roster decisions faces its first big test of the offseason in how it handles Quintero’s situation. Head coach Adrian Heath now shares player recruitment duties with Lagos’ replacement and former Loons assistant coach Mark Watson, with both also working alongside director of player personnel Amos Magee.