ST. PAUL - Minnesota United's splash at the start of the summer transfer window continued Tuesday, July 10, with the addition of the club's second Designated Player.
The Loons' acquisition of striker Angelo Rodriguez from Deportes Tolima in Colombia comes one day after the team added speedy Ecuadorian winger Romario Ibarra.
Rodriguez's Designated Player tag means he will be one of Minnesota's highest-priced players, along with new teammate and fellow Colombian Darwin Quintero, who joined the team in March. Like Quintero, who was named MLS player of the week on Tuesday, Rodriguez will be called on to move the needle in the Loons' performances.
"He provides a little bit more grit, a little bit more toughness than some of the guys on our roster and a little bit more leadership," United Sporting Director Manny Lagos said Tuesday.
Minnesota faced competition for Rodriquez and Ibarra from other clubs, including "three or four" teams within Major League Soccer as well as teams in Latin America, according to Lagos and Loons coach Adrian Heath.
"These have been very long, drawn out, protracted, not negotiations, but trying to fend the interest of other clubs over," Heath said. "We are just pleased that we've gotten them over the line."
With the 5-foot-11 Rodriguez, United sees a 29-year-old with experience who can contribute savvy, hold-up play of a traditional target forward at the top of the Loons' attack and also track back to the middle of the field to help initiate the offense.
"Power, strength, excellent with his back to goal," Heath described Rodriguez. "If he gets in his spot in the box, you are not getting him off the ball. He backs in and he's a big old unit. He's all the things that defenders don't like in the box. Certain players rely on good movement. He's got good movement, but he's also got a lot of strength."
The MLS transfer window opened Tuesday and closes Aug. 8. Ibarra's compensation is just below the DP level, using the MLS budget fund known as Target Allocation Money.
"I think after these two signings, unless something significantly shifted, I don't think we will be as active externally (in the global market), but I can't say things won't come up internally (within MLS)," Lagos said.
The Loons' addition of Ibarra and Rodriquez adds to the attack, but what improvements could come to address the club's defensive shortcomings? Minnesota has allowed 36 goals this season, which is tied for fourth most in MLS this season.
"The defensive midfield position is somewhere where we are still looking," Lagos said. "It's a process and there are transfer windows and certain areas of the field that you want to address and you can't quite get to where you want to get to."
Where on the field would Heath like more additions?
"All over. I can be as greedy as anybody, but I'm realistic," Heath said. "Somebody said the other day, 'You are conceding all these goals, and you haven't bought any defenders.' Who knows we aren't trying to buy any defenders? Who knows we aren't trying to buy midfield players? The window has been open a day and we announce two people. Let's see where the next month leads us."
Minnesota's front office was in Colombia scouting another undisclosed player when it came across Rodriguez, who had a career year with Tolima. He scored six goals in 1,259 minutes during Tolima's run to Colombia's first-division championship.
"He really felt strongly about coming to MLS and coming to Minnesota, so we were excited about that," Lagos said.
Rodriguez's salary was not disclosed by United, but will be made available by the MLS players union in September. For a measuring stick, Quintero, the Loons' first DP, has a salary of $1.65 million for 2018.
Ibarra is expected to arrive in Minnesota this week, with Rodriguez coming next week. Ibarra will take the international roster spot vacated when the Loons' Swiss fullback Jerome Thiesson received his green card to the U.S. Rodriguez also will have an international roster spot, and will be eligible to play once his visa paperwork is obtained.
Loons defender Michael Boxall sat out Tuesday's training with a groin injury. He won't play against Deportivo Saprissa in the Loons' friendly match on Wednesday, with the goal to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Abu Danladi (leg) returned to training, with the hope he's approaching full-go by the end of the week.