ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota United FC announced the signing Wednesday of Uruguayan teenager Thomás Chacón from Uruguayan first-division side Danubio FC at halftime of its U.S. Open Cup semifinal against the Portland Timbers.
Sporting director Manny Lagos fielded questions in the press box and relayed that the Young Designated Player would join the Loons pending receipt of his work visa — a process that could take as long as two weeks.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Lagos countered earlier reports that Chacón was MNUFC’s record signing.
Chacón comes MLS having made 15 league appearances for Danubio’s senior team, scoring two goals in the process. The midfielder has also made 48 appearances for his native Uruguay’s youth teams split between U17 and U20 competitions.
MNUFC used allocation money to buy down Colombian forward Ángelo Rodríguez’s contract — $667,188 of which is guaranteed — in order to free up a Designated Player spot for Chacón. The latter joins Darwin Quintero and Ján Greguš in the Loons’ trio of DPs. On Tuesday, Minnesota also traded $50,000 in General Allocation Money to D.C.United in exchange for an International Roster Slot that Chacón will occupy.
Minnesota — currently paying Quintero a team-high $1.75 million per year — has a team option for 2020 if it wishes to retain Quintero’s services next season. Chacón, who was described by head coach Adrian Heath as a player that “will develop into being a top No. 10,” has become Quintero’s heir-apparent in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. But Lagos views Chacón as a complimentary addition to his roster that will have no bearing on how the team views Quintero’s 2020 contact option.
“He is a very dangerous player at any of the positions of the front three-ish. Maybe not the No. 9, but all those other positions,” Lagos said of Chacón. “He’s like more modern-day soccer players where he should evolve to be able to be comfortable to play all of those three different positions.”
Lagos said MNUFC had followed Chacón for some time and the 5-foot-5 attacker had caught his eye when playing internationally for Uruguay’s U20 team. In speaking with Chacón ahead of completing the transfer, Lagos was impressed with the 18-year-old’s maturity relative to his age. Lagos also took comfort in Chacón’s experience in the Uruguayan first division and expects the play-maker to adapt to the physicality of MLS with relative ease.
Not due to turn 19 until Aug. 17, only $150,000 of Chacón’s wages will count toward’s MNUFC’s limit under the league’s salary cap per MLS rules for Designated Players under 20 years of age. That cap hit will remain just $200,000 if Chacón remains with the Loons for his age 21 season.
Lagos speculated that a slight injury Chacón picked up during the recent FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland may have helped delay interest from other clubs outside of Uruguay for Chacón’s services.
“[We’re] obviously really excited about the signing. He is a player we’ve been following for more than 18 months. Considering he’s only 18 years of age, we think he’s got an incredibly bright future. I’m really pleased that the club has decided to invest such a large amount in a young talent,” Heath said of Chacón. “[He’s] coming from an unbelievable country where players play with this incredible desire to be successful and we’re really excited to have him.”
“The club is continuing to evolve and grow in terms of the types of players we’re bringing in and certainly adding in our first Young [Designated Player], an 18-year-old, is exciting for us,” added Lagos. “He is going to bring a lot of youthful energy and it’s a big thing for the club to have a player of his quality and a player of his potential be a part of our family.”