Amarilla returns for Loons ahead of possible snowy home opener
Minnesota United starting striker Luis Amarilla was back training in Blaine on Tuesday, with four days' time left before Saturday's home opener against the New York Red Bulls.
Amarilla went home to Paraguay and teammates Kervin Arriaga and Joseph Rosales returned to Honduras late last month to finalize their U.S. work green cards.
Arriaga started and played all of last week's 1-0 season-opening victory at FC Dallas while Rosales entered as a substitute in the 71st minute. Amarilla's paperwork took longer and he was still home in Paraguay when the Loons made Amarilla's substitute starter Mender Garcia's 48th-minute goal stand as Saturday's winner.
Loons coach Adrian Heath said Amarilla is fit and ready to play again, on Saturday.
"He has been training," Heath said. "We gave him a little bit of work to do when he was down in Paraguay. So he's ready. He'll be ready for selection at the weekend."
Garcia's goal was his second as a Loon since arriving last season.
Heath played Amarilla and Garcia together in a two striker front during preseason while the team tinkered with lineups and formation with star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso absent and suspended without pay.
Heath on Tuesday said there's been no change with Reynoso still home in Argentina and his teammates playing on without him.
Now that Amarilla is back and available, Heath was asked what Garcia has to do to keep his starting spot from the season opener.
"Mender just has to keep doing what he's doing," Heath said. "I thought his defensive work was excellent. There's a lot more from Mender to come, that's for sure. I know having been a forward myself, there's nothing like scoring a goal to give you confidence and hopefully get you to the next level.
"It was a big goal for him. Mender has put himself in a really good spot."
Pursuing South Korean striker
Heath was asked after Tuesday's training about young South Korean 20-year-old attacker Jeong Sang-bin, who is one of the Under-22 initiative players the club has been pursuing. He is playing for the Swiss club Grasshoppers on loan from the Wolverhampton Wanderers in England's Premier League.
"He's one of a few players who we've been actively looking at over the last few months," Heath said. "I think we're a lot further down that than we were a few days ago. There's not a lot I can say until he's actually signed and he's here. But he is one of the players we have been looking at."
Starting attacker Bongokuhle Hlongwane didn't train Tuesday. Heath said Hlongwane had a slightly strained hamstring.
"Nothing too bad," Heath said. "He could have trained."
Starting defensive midfielder Wil Trapp has avoided contact in training last week and this because of two small cracked ribs. Heath said Trapp's condition will be re-evaluated Friday for Saturday's game.
"The nice thing for me is I can still run and do training for most part, so I don't lose fitness," Trapp said. I
Turf inside and snow out?
The Loons were back on the artificial turf indoors at the National Sports Center in Blaine on Tuesday after training outdoors on grass for an open-house audience on Saturday at Allianz Field.
"First of all, you can breathe inside," Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair said. "Just the way the turf is on our bodies, (training indoors) is just an unfortunate reality for us. Anytime we're able to get on the grass, we're very ecstatic. I'm hoping spring comes a little early and we can get out there (training on grass) a little sooner. "
This week's weather forecast predicts several more inches of snow Wednesday and Thursday as well as more snow and a high of 32 on Saturday for their 7:30 p.m. game.
St. Clair said he wears latex medical gloves underneath his goalkeeper gloves when it gets cold like Saturday's game will be.
"That's how I keep my hands warm," he said. "I've tried that out and it works for me. Guys have all their different things and it's just about finding what works for you."
Finland's Robin Lod said he has no special method or affinity for such winter weather.
"I'm the guy who always wears everything in the warmups," he said, "but when the game starts, I go with just the shirt and short."
Milestone for Lod
Lod is aimed to play his 100th game as a Loon on Saturday.
"Well, I haven't paid attention," Lod said. "I mean, it's nice that you get so many games with one club. It tell you that you have done something well. It's great."