ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota United FC has traded Darwin Quintero and the 70th overall pick in the 2020 SuperDraft to the Houston Dynamo in exchange for Marlon Hairston and $600,000 of allocation money, the team announced Wednesday.
The split of allocation money is an even $300,000 in both General and Targeted Allocation Money to be spread over the next two seasons.
“First off, we want to thank Darwin for everything he has given this club,” MNUFC Technical Director Mark Watson said in statement. “He has been an important piece in the growth of our organization and has given our fans a lot to cheer for over the years. We wish him nothing but the best in Houston.”
Quintero and MNUFC had issued conflicting statements earlier this week, with the attacking midfielder stating that his 2020 contract option had been declined and the team telling Pro Soccer USA that the option had not. Earlier Wednesday, Quintero tweeted in Spanish stating that he would not be returning to play for Minnesota United.
The Colombian playmaker impressed in his first MLS season with the Loons, scoring 11 goals and assisting on an additional 15 in 27 appearances in 2018. This past season, those totals in league play fell to 10 goals and five assists, with only six of those goals coming from open play. Minnesota’s highest-paid player in 2019, Quintero earned $1.75 million in guaranteed compensation.
Quintero impressed in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup though, scoring six goals in five games to earn Golden Boot honors. But the now-former Loons’ dangerman expressed frustration at having to come off the bench in the final, which Minnesota lost 2-1 at Atlanta United.
At 32 years of age and coming off a decline in production, head coach Adrian Heath and Watson opted to move Quintero for allocation money and winger Marlon Hairston as they head into the thick of the offseason.
Hairston earned just $155,000 with the Dynamo last season, and logged only 412 minutes for Houston in 2019. However, the Jackson, Miss. native has made 107 league appearances over his six-year MLS career, scoring seven goals and assisting on 13 more.
With the MLS Players Association due to begin talks on a new collective bargaining agreement with the league, the future value of the $300,000 in TAM received by the Loons could change. What is clear in moving Quintero is that Minnesota has gained significant payroll and roster flexibility.
“This is a great deal for our club and this trade puts us in a position with a lot roster flexibility and the opportunity to bring in key influential players in the attack,” Watson said. “In addition to this roster flexibility, we have added an experienced young player who can play different positions all over the field. Marlon Hairston is a versatile and athletic MLS veteran who will join an already deep roster and will make an immediate impact in our club.”
With Quintero’s departure, center midfielder Ján Greguš and attacking midfielder Thomás Chacón are the Loons’ remaining designated players, opening the door for a marquee acquisition. Quintero’s departure also opens the door for a larger role for the 19-year-old Chacón, who was signed on Aug. 7 from Uruguayan side Danubio F.C.
Heath had been open about his view that Minnesota needed to continue to strengthen its roster following his team’s 2-1 playoff defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Oct. 20.
“We can’t stand still, not in this league, not in the Western Conference,” Heath said. “Because, trust me, if we stand still, we lean backwards.”
In Quintero, Houston have added a dynamic attacking talent capable of playing anywhere behind striker in a front four. The Dynamo are only committed to the final year of Quintero’s current contract, should his 2020 option be exercised prior to Nov. 21.
On a minor note, today’s transaction marked the fourth-consecutive year Minnesota United has traded away its natural third round SuperDraft pick.