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Loons near addition of Paraguayan right back Alan Benitez

Benitez has played six seasons in Paraguay’s Primera Division, including the past two with Cerro Porteno in the capital city of Asuncion

Copa Libertadores - Round of 16 - First Leg - Cerro Porteno v Palmeiras
Cerro Porteno's Alan Benitez reacts during a round of 16 match against Palmeiras on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 in Asunción, Paraguay.
Cesar Olmedo/Reuters
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Minnesota United is nearing the addition of Paraguayan right back Alan Benitez, sources told Pioneer Press on Friday.

The 28-year-old fullback has not yet signed a contract with the Loons, but it could be done in the next few days, sources said. He holds a visitor’s visa, which is expected to help expedite what often can be delayed arrivals in U.S.

Benitez has played six seasons in Paraguay’s Primera Division, including the past two with Cerro Porteno in the capital city of Asuncion. He was a part of the team that won the 2021 clausura championship.

Benitez has experience in the premier South American club competitions, Copa Libertadores and CopaSudamericana. He also has played for the Paraguayan national team, a side which includes Loons forward Luis Amarilla.

MNUFC has been shorthanded at right back, with Romain Metanire dealing with repeated hamstring injuries this season. The 32-year-old Madagascan, who is out of contract at season’s end, has played only 22 MLS minutes this season.

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D.J. Taylor is expected to continue as the Loons’ starting right back against Real Salt Lake at 7 p.m. Sunday at Allianz Field.

Striker swap

The Loons received a transfer fee of approximately $2.8 million from French club Angers in exchange for Adrien Hunou, one source said.

Given Hunou had not scored in 128 MLS minutes this season, that compensation nearly recoups the bulk of the roughly $3.3 million fee Minnesota paid to bring the forward over from French club Rennes in May 2021.

With Amarilla scoring one goal since mid-March, the Loons are exploring using Hunou’s vacated Designated Player slot on another striker when the summer transfer window opens next week.

The club has identified a few prospects and is exploring players’ availability and price, a source said. One likelihood is Minnesota pursues an experienced player with a proven goal-scoring record in order to make a push for the MLS Cup Playoffs this season.

Those assets often come with more expensive price tags.

Arriaga out weeks

An MRI Thursday on midfielder Kervin Arriaga revealed ligament damage in his left ankle, and the Honduran international is expected to miss a minimum of 2-4 weeks, manager Adrian Heath said Friday.

Arriaga had a non-contact injury in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s 3-2 victory at L.A. Galaxy. The initial fear was Arriaga injured his Achilles tendon, so this ankle setback is mild by comparison.

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Jospeh Rosales subbed in midweek, but he was sent off with two yellow cards after an altercation with Galaxy’s Douglas Costa at the end of the game. Rosales will be suspended for Sunday’s match.

“It’s a huge blow,” Heath said of Arriaga. “Joseph reacting the way he did has not helped us for this weekend.”

Jacori Hayes is a candidate to step into a two-man midfield with Wil Trapp.

Heath was asked by a reporter if he had a “chat” with Rosales about retaliating to Costa elbowing him in the back of the head. “I don’t think chat is the right word,” Heath responded. “But yes we did; we addressed it.”

Briefly

Amarilla (adductor) did not train Friday and his status appears doubtful for Sunday’s game against Real Salt Lake (8-4-5), which is in third place in the Western Conference. … Minnesota (6-8-3) resides in 10th going into the weekend. … Emanuel Reynoso’s two-goal game against the Galaxy propelled the Argentine onto the MLS team of the week on Friday. He has five goals in all 17 games this season; his next goal will top his total from 2021. … MNUFC2 goalkeeper Fred Emmings was injured in training Thursday and was absent from Friday’s session. It’s unclear what Emmings is dealing with. … Metanire and Niko Hansen (thigh) rehabbed on the side of Friday’s training session.

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA LOONS
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