After striking out on Koreans, Minnesota United pursuing other attackers

Loons’ pursuit of strikers Cho Gue-Sung and Hwang Ui-Jo come up empty but ‘have other irons in the fire’

Minnesota United manager Adrian Heath motions for midfielder Franco Fragapane (7) to move up against Real Salt Lake's Aaron Herrera (22) in the first half of a MLS game July 3, 2022 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Minnesota United manager Adrian Heath motions for midfielder Franco Fragapane (7) to move up against Real Salt Lake's Aaron Herrera (22) in the first half of a MLS game July 3, 2022 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press

Minnesota United’s pursuit of South Korean strikers Cho Gue-Sung and Hwang Ui-Jo have come up empty, but manager Adrian Heath said Monday the Loons remain in search of new attackers for the 2023 season.

“We just don’t have one target and think if we get him, great, and if we don’t, we don’t know what to do,” Heath said. “We’ve been looking quite extensively, not just in Korea, but all over Europe.”

The Loons held the MLS discovery rights on both Korean players but are now discussing a transfer of Hwang’s rights to Chicago Fire, which is working to bring him in. Cho is expected to remain with his current Korean club, Jeonbuk.

“We’ve got other irons in the fire in that area and are hopeful to make some announcements in the not too distant future,” Heath said.

European transfer windows are closing soon and those deadlines are expected to trigger transactions. The MLS primary transfer window is open until April 24, while the league’s secondary transfer window runs July 5-Aug. 2.


Reynoso update

The Loons started their fourth week of preseason training on Monday, and MLS all-star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso remains absent from the group. The club and Reynoso spoke to each other on Sunday — a positive development after not being in contact for a period of time in January.

Emanuel Reynoso

“(Reynoso) feels as though, hopefully, we can sort this out and we can get him back here,” Heath said. “One or two issues he needs to sort out at home.”

It doesn’t appear the potential trial Reynoso faces over an alleged assault in December 2021 in Cordoba, Argentina, is impeding Reynoso’s ability to travel to the U.S., and the club wants to put frustration over Reynoso’s truancy in the past.

Heath pointed to just under one month of preseason work available before the Feb. 25 season opener at FC Dallas.

Left back Kemar Lawrence, who has been away from the team due to “family issues” in his native Jamaica, is expected to join the group for the first time on Tuesday, Heath said. Lawrence won’t play a shift in the Loons’ friendly versus Orlando City at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Heath said he was unaware of transfer rumors that linked Reynoso to Benfica, a top club in Portugal. Reynoso, who signed a three-year contract with Minnesota last summer, was mentioned as a target for Besiktas in Turkey this week, and with Vasco de Gama in Brazil last month.

Center back developments

The Loons are threadbare at center back.

Bakaye Dibassy is expected to miss at least the season opener after a freak quadriceps tendon injury suffered last August; Brent Kallman has been dealing with tendinitis in his foot during preseason camp; and new center backs Mikael Marques and Miguel Tapias have yet to arrive from Sweden and Mexico, respectively.


This meant midfielder Kervin Arriaga played on the back line in MNUFC’s 2-2 draw against Philadelphia on Friday.

Asked about the possibility of playing a three-man back line this season, Heath quipped, “Well, you to have three defenders and we haven’t had three to pick from.”

Loons technical director Mark Watson is in Mexico this week to discuss with Liga MX club Pachuca when Tapias might be able to join MNUFC. The current set up would be for Tapias to arrive once Pachuca’s season ends in April, but Minnesota wants the 26-year-old to move to the U.S. before the MLS season starts.

Up first, the Loons (1-0-1) play Colorado Rapids (0-2-1) on Saturday night.
The Loons finish the season with a 13-31-2-1 record
The Loons are scheduled to wrap up the season by playing at Willmar Friday, March 3; hosting Granite City Saturday, March 4; and returning to Willmar Sunday, March 5.
Jack Hanson sparked the rally with two goals. The Loons host Willmar Friday, Feb. 27, at Breezy Point Hockey Center.
The win ends a nine-game skid. Loons scheduled to host Willmar WarHawks at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17
All proceeds from Saturday, Feb. 4, game against Alexandria Blizzards at Breezy Point Sports Center will benefit CRMC's Courage Cabinet
Minnesota Loons scheduled to host the Blizzard at 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at Breezy Point Sports Center
The Loons are scheduled to host Alexandria Thursday, Jan. 26 and Willmar Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Breezy Point Sports Center.
The Loons scored two in the third period to tie the game. The Loons are next scheduled to play Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20-21, at Mason City, Iowa.
The Loons are 10-21-1 overall and are scheduled to play at the Granite City Lumberjacks Friday, Jan. 13 and Saturday, Jan. 14, in St. Cloud.


Luis Amarilla (adductor) and D.J. Taylor (hamstring) are working through “slight” injuries, Heath said. … Center back Doniel Henry came to Minnesota working his way back from a calf injury, which set back his fitness. … Former MNUFC play-by-play commentator Callum Williams has been hired to call games on the MLS League Pass streaming service on Apple TV in 2023, the league said Monday. Loons’ presenter Kyndra de St. Aubin was announced in early January as a color commentary for the service. Former Loons player and sideline reporter Jamie Watson will also work as an analyst. … New attacker Cameron Dunbar would have scored a goal against Union on Friday if not for a great save by MLS all-star Andre Blake. … After Wednesday’s exhibition game in mid-80-degree heat in Florida, MNUFC will return to Minnesota on Thursday.


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