The first piece of the Loons retooled attack is finally ready starting to take shape. 24 year old Paraguayan Luis Amarilla is on his way north to take the place of outward bound Angelo Rodriguez. This latest departure, coupled with losing Abu Danladi in the Expansion draft, leaves the Loons a little light up front. Despite a breakout campaign that saw him garner USMNT consideration, Mason Toye will not be able to hog all the striker minutes for the Loons this season.
After spending 2019 on loan with CD Universidad Catolica (the same club Minnesota signed Romario Ibarra from), Amarilla does not appear to be in the mix for parent club Velez Sarsfield in Argentina. The replies to the original tweet sharing the news do not have the most faith in the current attacking options for Velez Sarsfield, or the coach for letter Amarilla leave with the dearth of firepower up front.
“Luis Amarilla will travel to the United States next Thursday to sign a contract with Minnesota United. The Paraguayan striker will join the MLS team for a year and his link with
It ends in June 2022.“
Luis Amarilla viajará a Estados Unidos el próximo jueves para firmar contrato con el Minnesota United. El delantero paraguayo se sumará a préstamo por un año al equipo de la MLS y su vínculo con @Velez finaliza en junio del 2022. pic.twitter.com/QiLTomwxyw— Agustin Sileo (@AgustinSileo) January 11, 2020
So what would a Luis Amarilla lead attack look like?
Amarilla could offer the Loons a unique combination of youth and experience that they haven’t experienced before. Christian Ramirez and Angelo Rodriguez had years of experience and craft that they could bring, Mason Toye and Abu Danladi brought youth. The Christian Ramirez attack was characterized by holdup play, layoffs, and running while the Angelo Rodriguez offense was characterized by Darwin Quintero running a lot.
Amarilla doesn’t necessarily have a direct comparison to either of them, or Danladi or Toye for that matter. At 6’0”, he’s a little taller than the average striker, but about in line what the Loons have had historically. His contribution to the build up of phase of play comes more from his movement than his size and strength. Whereas Ramirez and Rodriguez could back down a defender, Amarilla drifts off defenders to open up new angles for passes. While this plays to his strength of movement and unselfishness.
In the box he is an opportunistic finisher, capitalizing on defensive mistakes and timing his movement to meet the ball. His most common position to attack the ball in the box is the back post run off the defender’s shoulder. This same run afforded him several goals during his loan stint at Universidad.
His prowess in the air again comes from his movement off the ball. Amarilla managed 16 goals and five assists for Universidad last season, good enough for second in the table, despite playing fewer minutes than the rest of the top five goalscorers.
In his youth national team career he made five appearances and scored one goal at the u20 level and has yet to receive a call to the senior national team. His path is blocked by Antonio Sanabrio, Federico Santander, and Dario Lezcano. Another strong season in MLS, however, could boost his stock ahead of Copa America 2020.
His highlights are heavily favored towards strong finishes made without pressure from defenders. The question could be raised how well his abilities would translate to MLS. Christian Ramirez and Darwin Quintero functioned best together, but now Quintero and Ramirez are gone and Amarilla doesn’t offer the same skillset. As a player who is more of a finisher than a creator, he may not be able to carry the team as well as the top end strikers in the league. His success, and the success of the Loons this season, could rely on who they get to fill the gaping #10 role in the squad.