ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota United FC’s widely-reported pursuit of Paraguayan forward Luis Amarilla was completed today, with Amarilla joining the Loons on a season-long loan.
The loan agreement with Argentinian first-division club Vélez Sarsfield includes an option to purchase should Minnesota wish to retain Amarilla’s services beyond the 2020 season. The loan was completed using Targeted Allocation Money.
The 24-year-old is coming off a breakout season. While on loan with Ecuadorian side Universidad Católica in 2019, Amarilla’s 19 goals from 24 appearances led the country’s first division. In all competitions, Amarilla recorded 21 goals and eight assists in 41 appearances for Los Camaratas, tallying a goal or an assist an average of once every 95 minutes during that period.
“Luis is someone that will be a big addition for us up front,” MNUFC sporting director Mark Watsons said. “He’s a goalscorer… Watching his goals, his movement, he’s got everything we’re looking for in a striker. Adrian [Heath] saw him live earlier in the year and was really impressed. On top of it, [Amarilla]’s someone who has a great work rate. He fights, he runs and he’s going to fit in really well with our club philosophy.”
"you need somebody who’s a fox-in-the-box.." pic.twitter.com/9ZeB8EPEVY
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) January 28, 2020
Amarilla joins a Loons roster that currently includes one fellow forward in Mason Toye, following the recent departure of Angelo Rodríguez to Deportivo Cali. The 30-year old Rodríguez scored just five league goals from open play in 1,818 minutes last season while earning $667,187 in total compensation. The 21-year-old Toye managed six goals in just 843 minutes while earning less than a third of what Rodríguez did. That lack of production from Rodríguez, who was on a TAM-level contract, was undoubtedly a motivating factor in Amarilla’s arrival in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
“One of the things we thought we had to address moving into the season was finishing a higher proportion of the chances we create,” MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath said. “We think Luis will help us in that category. We had some tight games last year — especially at home —that we should have put away. To do that, you need somebody who’s a fox-in-the-box, a guy who can finish it when it comes across the face of goal, and he’s got really good movement.
“[Amarilla]’s a good age — 24 — and can link up with people, can play into midfield, but most importantly, he gets all types of goals — off the keeper, five-yards out, overhead kicks, headers, benders — you name it.”
Amarilla and Toye may have additional help in short order, it seems. Heath told ESPN’s Shaka Hislop two weeks ago, “We’re hopefully going to announce a new [designated player], an attacking player, in the next few days.”
Watson is currently in South America in pursuit of Boca Juniors’ attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso, as the Argentinian is the first choice among multiple South American transfer targets for the Loons.