Loons star Emanuel Reynoso ends holdout, returns to Minnesota

·4 min read

The end of the saga is in sight.

After nearly four months, Minnesota United said Saturday that midfielder Emanuel Reynoso has traveled from his native Argentina to Minnesota. A process will begin for the two-time All-Star to reintegrate into the Loons, work toward having his MLS-issued suspension lifted and eventually play in league matches.

MNUFC has been looking forward to Reynoso’s return since he didn’t report to preseason training camp in Blaine in early January. Then MLS suspended Reynoso without pay in mid-February, and that status remained as Reynoso missed the opening nine matches this season.

The Loons have tried to be proactive in ending Reynoso’s absence with multiple virtual meetings and physical trips to Argentina over the last few months. Chief Soccer Officer Manny Lagos had traveled to Argentina to meet with Reynoso during the preseason, and Loons technical director Mark Watson went there as part of a scouting trip in mid-April.

As Reynoso’s holdout dragged on, the club had grown frustrated with Reynoso’s lack of communication and not showing up for scheduled meetings. But a breakthrough came a few weeks ago. Sources told the Pioneer Press that Reynoso reached out to MNUFC, expressing remorse for his prolonged absence and saying he wanted to return to the club.

In mid-April, Watson and Reynoso had a constructive multiple-hour visit to go over the issues Reynoso felt he was facing in his hometown of Cordoba and how he now feels comfortable for a return to Minnesota, sources said.

Reynoso has been dealing with familial issues and has felt an uncertainty about traveling to the U.S. with the prospect of a trial for his alleged assault in December 2021. He also has felt more comfortable around family and friends in his hometown.

As the groundwork was laid for Reynoso’s return in mid-April, the club remained reluctant that he would not follow through. That skepticism became reality when Reynoso didn’t board that scheduled flight. The Loons had made other travel arrangements for Reynoso before the Watson meeting and in the weeks after.

But Reynoso finally made the trip this weekend.

Now Reynoso must undergo a multi-step process with MNUFC and MLS. He will need to meet with the club’s medical staff and the league’s legal department as well as an independent substance and behavior consultant. It’s unclear what timeline Reynoso might have for his MLS suspension to be lifted.

The club said Saturday that Reynoso will be “unavailable for all team activities until further notice.”

Reynoso will have to mend relationships with the club’s staff and his teammates. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair had some pointed words about Reynoso’s absence after the scoreless draw with Dallas on Sunday.

“For me, he’s not here right now, and even when he comes, it’s going to take him a while to get fit and things like that,” St. Clair told the Pioneer Press. “… We have guys that want to be here, and if he doesn’t want to be here, then that’s on him.”

Reynoso was one of six players in MLS to tally double-digit goals and assists last season, and MNUFC has struggled this year to have someone fill his No. 10 playmaking role, and ultimately, score many goals. The team has registered only eight goals across nine games and new addition Sang Bin Jeong, primarily a forward, has been filling into the No. 10 role in the last three games. The Loons are in a 212-minute scoring drought going into Saturday’s game at Vancouver.

It’s unclear if Reynoso will have other steps to go through with MLS or with the club to become eligible. Will he be in manager Adrian Heath’s doghouse? Will there be hurdles to lifting the suspension and becoming eligible? What kind of fitness level does he have? How long he will practice on his own before joining the group? When will he be able to play in his first match?

These are all key questions, but Reynoso has returned to Minnesota, and that is an enormous step.

Related Articles