Suspension over, Loons star Reynoso still waiting to play in games
Loons star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso met with teammates on Monday for the first time since he arrived back in Minnesota and MLS after a five-month holdout. On Tuesday, the league cleared him for full team participation after his suspension without pay dating to February was lifted.
Reynoso is not expected to return to parts of team training until next week. He did not participate Tuesday morning but is expected to attend Wednesday's game against Houston at Allianz Field. He will continue working with the club's athletic training staff two and three times a day when the Loons travel to Portland for a game Saturday and a U.S. Open Cup round of 16 game next Tuesday at Houston.
Reynoso probably will be on the training field after that in a return Loons coach Adrian Heath calls a "week-to-week" situation. Heath wouldn't say when asked if it's most likely Reynoso might return to playing games sometime in June. The Loons play five more games in May, then three MLS and one international friendly in June.
"I don't want to put a time on it," Heath said. "You can't rush him because ultimately he's going to break down and we can't afford that. He's had a long break. He's working really hard. As I've said, we can use him, but any team in the league can use a fit and healthy Reynoso."
Reynoso's suspension ended the same day the MLS Players Association released its new players salaries for spring and summer. Reynoso's guaranteed compensation this season is $2,151,200, and his base salary is $1.6 million.
A two-time MLS All Star, Reynoso signed a new contract last September that begins this season and is intended to keep him with the Loons until 2026. He remained home in Argentina all season until he returned to Minnesota on May 6. The club called his long absence due to personal matters, but didn't say more.
Team captain Wil Trapp said Reynoso "came to us in a very humble way" during Monday's players-only meeting in which Reynoso did much of the talking.
Trapp called himself and his teammates empathetic, sympathetic, receptive and "very compassionate" and said they needed to hear Reynoso's side story.
Heath and Trapp both deferred to Reynoso when asked about the specifics of his absence. Heath said Reynoso will meet with media members after the team returns from Houston next week.
"It was great for us to see he's a human and things happen and the only way you ultimately can move forward is have conversations like that," Trapp said. "The last thing you want is anyone to feel ostracized. But also, it's like, 'Hey, man, we've been here, you know?' I think he's very understanding. Conversations will have to continue to happen. Trust again will have to be rebuilt. The steps will now be about walking the walk of it."
Heath said there's one way Reynoso wins his coaches and players trust back.
"By his actions and not his words that he wants to be here," Heath said. "How he trains. How he performs. If he does that, his talent will take over and we know what that's like. If he does that — I've seen a lot worse than what Rey's done — then he'll be forgiven. Players are normally a forgiving lot. They've all made mistakes and now we've got to move on."
The Loons started the season without Reynoso unbeaten in their first five games, at 3-0-2. They're now are winless in their last six MLS regular-season games, at 0-5-1. Their only home victory so far this season is last week's penalty-kick marathon over Philadelphia in a U.S. Open Cup game.
"The Lakers weren't too good without LeBron this season, were they?" Heath asked. "You take big pieces out of any team in any sport and they're not the same, whether that be an injury and what happened with Rey. We need to get him back fit and healthy and get him on the field. But we will not rush it."