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Minnesota United Signs Ecuadorian Winger Romario Ibarra

Mar 17, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota United supporters during the first half against Chicago Fire at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota United FC has acquired Ecuadorian international Romario Ibarra. The 23-year-old inverted left winger was acquired from Club Deportivo Universidad Católica, which plays in Ecuador’s first division, using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

The announcement comes one day before the beginning of Major League Soccer’s summer transfer window, and if called upon, Minnesota’s newest Ibarra should be available for selection for this Saturday’s home game against Real Salt Lake. Fans in Minnesota may get an earlier look when the Loons host Deportivo Saprissa. The Costa Rican club arrives for a Wednesday friendly at TCF Bank Stadium.

Following the acquisitions of Vadim Demidov, Francisco Calvo and Rasmus Schüller, Ibarra is MNUFC’s fourth signing involving TAM.

In a press release issued by MNUFC, head coach Adrian Heath highlighted Ibarra’s speed.

“We have been looking for some change-of-game pace for the team, and that’s one of the best things Romario does: he changes games with his pace and he challenges defenders.” Heath said. “I know how difficult these types of players are for us to cope with. It will make a change now that we have one of these players on our roster that we feel, with his skill and pace on the counterattack, can be a difference maker.”

Debuting for the Ecuador national team in 2017, the 5-foot-9 Romario tallied a goal in both of his appearances, scoring against Argentina and Chile in World Cup qualifying games. Romario’s brother, Renato Ibarra who plays for Liga MX’s Club América, has also been capped by Ecuador.

During his five-season tenure at Club Deportivo Universidad Católica, Ibarra made 137 appearances, scoring 16 goals and assisting on an additional 13 across all competitions.

Where Romario Ibarra will fit into Heath’s starting XI remains to be seen. Having made use of a 3-5-2 in the Loons’ last two matches, the indefatigable Miguel Ibarra had been put to good use as a right wingback. To field both Ibarras in that 3-5-2 while keeping Christian Ramirez and Darwin Quintero up top, Heath would likely have to use two right-footed wingbacks. Another option would be returning to the 4-2-3-1 Heath favored for the Loons’ first 16 league games, which would allow Romario to play his preferred position (inverted left winger) opposite Miguel on the right wing.

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