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Why I’m already impressed by Angelo Rodriguez

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The Colombian Designated Player is here to, well, play, ladies and gents.

Ángelo Rodríguez trained with the club for the first time Wednesday.
Courtesy Minnesota United FC

Minnesota United’s second Designated Player arrived without any of the fanfare that accompanied his predecessor.

Darwin Quintero was welcomed by a sizeable chunk of fans at the airport. Ángelo Rodríguez had a quiet first day of training which saw him welcomed by a few players, including Quintero.

March 31, 2018 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United Forward, Darwin Quintero (25) greets supporters during halftime at the Minnesota United vs Atlanta United match at TCF Bank Stadium.

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
March 31, 2018 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United Forward, Darwin Quintero (25) greets supporters during halftime at the Minnesota United vs Atlanta United match at TCF Bank Stadium. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

The circumstances of Rodriguez’s arrival explain some of the missing buzz. Most prominently, Rodriguez is the second DP. You always remember your first, but the second is a little more run-of-the-mill. There was also a good ol’ transfer saga involving Quintero that was virtually nonexistent with Rodriguez—though there perhaps should have been.

The Loons’ front office faced a challenge in acquiring Rodriguez. The Colombian chose Minnesota out of a pool of suitors, including some teams from Mexico and Nacional, Colombia’s “biggest team,” according to manager Adrian Heath.

That reveals a lot about Rodriguez, who is fresh off a title-winning campaign with Deportes Tolima. There is one thing that it reveals: he checks all the boxes.

“We’ve got him in his prime,” boasted Heath of Rodriguez. Coming off a double-digit scoring year at age 29, Rodriguez is enjoying the best years of his career. Now Minnesota United will get to enjoy those years too.

July 18, 2018 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath shares a laugh with reporters during the post match press conference after the Minnesota United defeated New England Revolution 2-1  at TCF Bank Stadium. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
July 18, 2018 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath shares a laugh with reporters during the post match press conference after the Minnesota United defeated New England Revolution 2-1 at TCF Bank Stadium. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Based on Rodriguez’s comments during his introductory interviews after his first training session, he has been seeking a move to Major League Soccer. “It’s been something that I’ve been looking for in my career for a while,” he said in Spanish through a translator.

Rodriguez said that Heath promised him titles, and MLS is the place where Rodriguez wants to continue to make that happen. “I confess that I followed [MLS] a lot in Colombia,” said Rodriguez. “It’s a league that’s really growing, so that was one of the reasons why I ended up coming here.”

But Rodriguez said he hopes to stay in Minnesota for a while. His aim for his time with United is not to land a move elsewhere—this is where he wants to be.

That’s a big win for the Loons. While clubs like Atlanta United look to snag young starlets to sell off later—which is both effective and efficient—here is a player whose future lies with Minnesota United. That’s a big deal for a young team.

Rodriguez’s style and personality should be a good fit with the team. Heath described him as “professional” and “serious,” which would fit with his mentality for being in Minnesota. That attitude came across during Rodriguez’s first chat with local media—he’s not moving to MLS to mess around.

He also described himself as a goal scorer, which is the expectation for a forward, but Heath mentioned that Rodriguez’s style and physique were more physical than he anticipated. Both will likely turn out to be pleasant surprises for the coaching staff.

Rodriguez did not travel with the team to face the Vancouver Whitecaps because there is not an open international slot to accommodate him, but he’ll be getting to work while the team is away. Rodriguez had continued training with Deportes Tolima in Colombia and Heath said that he will get some individual work in with a member of the training staff in the coming days.

Minnesota United have shown signs of dedication and ambition that have previously been lacking in by adding Ángelo Rodríguez to the team, and his own dedication and ambition are sure to please his coaches, teammates and fans.