Angelo Rodriguez grew on Loons during repeat visits to Colombia
Angelo Rodriguez grew on Loons during repeat visits to Colombia Minnesota United forward Angelo Rodriguez trains with the Loons for the first time Wednesday, July 25, 2018, at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. Courtesy photo / Minnesota United
BLAINE, Minn. â" Minnesota United scouted in Colombia on four separate occasions over the past year, and while team officials were focused on other players, striker Angelo Rodriguez is the one they couldn't take their eyes off of.
On repeat visits, the 29-year-old Colombian became a priority for Loons' front office leaders to see. And back in Minnesota, Rodriguez's pl ay turned into a major talking point among staff.
"His name kept coming up and up, and he also really grew into having a great year as well," United sporting director Manny Lagos told the Pioneer Press on Wednesday, July 25. "That makes an impression on you."
United made Rodriguez the club's second high-priced, high-expectation Designated Player on July 10, and he trained for the first time with the Loons on Wednesday. He won't travel with the team Thursday for Saturday's game in Vancouver between the streaking Loons (9-11-1) and the host Whitecaps (7-9-5).
The Loons don't have the requisite Canadian travel documents for him, nor the necessary international roster spot, which will have to be acquired from another Major League Soccer team, so he will stay and train in Minnesota. United coach Adrian Heath said the goal is for Rodriguez to make his Loons debut against the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 4 at TCF Bank Stadium.
Whi le Rodriguez takes up one of Minnesota's three Designated Player (DP) spots â" along with star midfielder Darwin Quintero â" the club will consider the option to buy down his salary to the next-highest budget level, using Target Allocation Money. That would free up money to add up to two more DPs before the franchise begins play at Allianz Field in St. Paul next spring.
"His contract is structured in a way where it saves the club a lot of money right now but could also be bought down if we wanted to transition him out of DP and have the advantage of saving a lot of money," Lagos said. "We feel very positive about the deal that we structured for the long-term health of the club in terms of adding DPs and in terms of how his cap room is managed within the roster and the budget."
Rodriguez's one season with double-digit goals came in 2017, according to soccerway.com. In 2018, his six goals helped lead Colombian club Deportes Tolima to the lea gue's apertura, or opening, championship in June.
"From our point of view, we got him in his prime," Heath said.
As United investigated Rodriguez, Heath said they heard he is "very professional and very serious." When Rodriguez met the media Wednesday, he stood with his arms folded and gave short, frank answers.
"It's a big step in my career," he said in Spanish through a translator. "A lot of opportunities had come and gone, and this one came and I took it. Again, I just come to give my all and give my best to this team."
Heath said Rodriguez had options to join Colombia's top club, Atletico Nacional in Medillin, and clubs in Mexico's Liga MX.
"We had spoke to his agent on a couple of occasions and we were a little bit panic-y because you never know, especially with Mexican clubs," Heath said of securing the transfer.
But Rodriguez added Wednesday, "I confess that I followed (MLS) a lot in Colombia."
The Loons believe with Rodriguez they have acquired a seasoned pro who will provide leadership, along with 30-year-old Quintero.
"They have seen it and done it," Heath said. "They know what is expected of them. They know what is expected of the group. I know from my own time in football that a lot of the best lessons I've ever learned were from experienced pros. (They) quietly pull you on one side and (say), 'That is not acceptable. That is not good enough.' I expect the same of them."
Quintero, a fellow Colombian who played nearly 10 years in Mexico, was influential in Rodriguez joining the Loons.
"I talked to Darwin a lot," Rodriguez said. "He told me all about the organization and the people here. It was a decision that I come to with my family, but what he told me definitely motivated me to come here more."Theft of mother's tombstone worsens split as family enters court battle in western MinnesotaCoworkers vow to fight for more staff at Minnesota prison where guard was killedMinnesota man planned to start 'second American Revolution,' prosecutors argueTheft of mother's tombstone worsens split as family enters court battle in western MinnesotaCoworkers vow to fight for more staff at Minnesota prison where guard was killedMinnesota man planned to start 'second American Revolution,' prosecutors argue Explore related topics:sportssoccerAdvertisementSource: Google News Colombia | Netizen 24 Colombia