Loons close book on one of their biggest misses: Thomas Chacon
One of the biggest personnel misses in Minnesota United’s MLS history concluded Wednesday when the club said it had bought out the contract of Uruguayan midfielder Thomas Chacon.
MNUFC had paid a multi-million-dollar transfer fee to Danubio FC, signed the then-18-year-old to a Designated Player contract and introduced him before a U.S. Open Cup match at Allianz Field on Aug. 7, 2019 with a video montage of his highlights and handed out cardboard cutouts of his head to fans.
“It’s a big thing for the club to have a player of his quality and a player of his potential be a part of our family,” then-Sporting Director Manny Lagos said in the announcement picking up of Chacon.
After showing promise with Uruguayan youth national teams, including at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup in Poland, Chacon never panned out in Minnesota. He played only 85 minutes at the end of the 2019 season, 172 minutes in 2020 and was loaned to Liverpool FC in Uruguay for the 2021 season. He never had a goal or assist with the Loons.
The missteps primarily were a combination of Chacon not being able to play at the MLS level and the club not setting up a development pathway for the youngster. The Loons did not have an in-house second team until this winter.
United FC manager Adrian Heath addressed the situation from preseason camp in Florida on Wednesday.
“It’s never an easy one,” he said. “… When you bring players in to your club … there is no magic formula that you get it right. You don’t know how people are going to settle, and with a young kid … at the time, leaving his family and parents and everybody down in Uruguay. It just never really happened for him. We thought going back to Liverpool last year to play would help him.”
Chacon, now 21, scored two goals in 1,075 minutes in Uruguay’s Primera Division in 2021, per wyscout.
“I think he’s more comfortable down there, and we had a decision to make,” Heath said. “Do we cut our ties and save the salary for the next year or so or next couple of years? Or do we (continue) with it? We felt as though this was the right decision.
“It’s never personal. We are just trying to make the decisions that are the right ones for the club at that particular moment, and that’s the way we feel. Over the period of time, we’ll see if it’s the right decision. He’s still a young kid. He has got the talent, but he just didn’t seem to settle at our place. It was difficult for him. But we wish him well.”
With Chacon’s exit, the Loons open up an international roster spot and an Under-22 initiative slot.
Heath said he anticipates the club announcing up to three new players in the next couple days.
The expected additions: former Loons striker Luis Amarilla, a Paraguayan who played for Liga de Quito in Ecuador last season, and 24-year-old Honduran midfielder Kervin Arriaga, who has played for CD Marathon in his native country. The third player is expected to be an “MLS veteran,” a source said.
Slow with Metanire
Right back Romain Metanire has not been integrated into the group in preseason training after tearing his hamstring in the MLS Cup Playoffs loss to Portland last November. But he was “doing a lot of work on the side” Wednesday morning, Heath said. “He’s progressing nicely.”
Heath said the plan is to have Metanire join the group when the team goes to Portland, Ore., starting on Feb. 10. Second-year defense Nabi Kibunguchy is expected to fill in for Metanire in the meantime.
New forward Bongokunle Hlongwane has had his immigration interview in South Africa and is expected to receive his paperwork soon before traveling to meet the Loons in the U.S. … Robin Lod has completed his military service in Finland and is taking some personal time before joining Loons in Minnesota next week. … MNUFC has hired Don Fuller to be its head athletic trainer. Fuller was in that role with the Minnesota Wild from 2000-16 and was an assistant athletic trainer with the Arizona Coyotes starting in 2017. … The Loons’ first preseason game is Saturday against the Chicago Fire.