The Angle

Scouting the Scouting Trip: Potential Minnesota United Targets in Costa Rica

by on 15 December 2016

As Minnesota United continue to build their roster, the club sent Director of Player Personnel Amos Magee, General Manager Manny Lagos, and Head Coach Adrian Heath on scouting trips to Latin and South America. As Wes Burdine did during Manny Lagos’ trip to Norway and Sweden this past summer, we’ve done some scouting of a few potential players who could interest the Loons before their inaugural MLS campaign.

It’s worth noting that Magee intended to attend the Costa Rican Clasico between rivals Saprissa and Alajuelense. When that match was postponed, he did not stay to watch one team face a different opponent. Instead, Heath and Lagos added a stop to their South American tour to watch the replay. So who on these teams offers something United could use?

Daniel Colindres

31 years old, Costa Rica, Left Wing

As Wes Burdine already wrote, Minnesota’s interest in Saprissa’s talismanic attacker is well known.  Honestly, I was among those who met the rumor with a collective head scratch. However, Colindres’ play offers more than his modest goal tally might suggest.

Even his highlight reel goals are not terribly staggering, but his pace, vision and targeted crosses are impressive. Though often listed as an attacking forward, Colindres’ true home stands on the left wing. As a winger he’s played a part in a third of all Saprissa’s goals this season, racking up 13 assists.  He even had a strong showing during Wednesday night’s tilt in front of MNUFC brass. His speed and pressure on the left set up Uruguayan striker Fabrizio Ronchetti (even if nothing came of it).

Outlook: Bright

The Costa Rican press seems to think Colindres should have his bags packed and brush up on his casserole recipes. Only six months into a 3 year extension, Saprissa may expect a little more for a full transfer. But he’s clearly a target. Now, with fellow Costa Rican Johan Venegas set to cover the right flank, Colindres is well set for a comfortable transition. My only request is that he brings along La Nacion writer Daniel Jiminez who has described Colindres as the player who “calmed the cold” and “carried the heat”.

Francisco Calvo

24 years old, Costa Rica, Center Back

The young, athletic, defender has enough prowess to range up and down the field. So much so, that he finished the fall season as the number two goal scorer on his club. As a big target on crosses and a calm demeanor from the penalty spot, his profile is own the rise.

Callvo’s also maintained enough tenacity to be the target of rival coach Jafet Soto’s post match complaints and to lead Saprissa to the stingiest defense in the league. Wednesday night, with Lagos and Heath looking on, he had Saprissa’s two best chances of the first half.

Outlook: Unclear

Calvo is the name that pops off the page, so much so that he’s also been linked to MLS scouts from Portland, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He’s a highly plausible candidate for a move to the MLS, but may represent too much of a bidding war for the lower profile Loons.

David Guzman

26 years old, Costa Rica, Defensive Midfield

The final name to watch from Saprissa (or El Glorioso Monstruo Morado/The Purple Monster), is another club lifer. David Guzman has long served as the glue that binds the club together: an academy product who unites veterans and rookies, teaches other players the system, and does every thing he’s asked. Naturally, he was busy last Wednesday in front of MNUFC representatives, pressuring opponents, peppering in crosses, drawing a yellow card, taking shots from distance. His utility has made him invaluable to his club and a regular guest-star on the national team.

Outlook: Fading Fast.

Multiple sources are reporting that Guzman either already has or is about to sign with the Portland Timbers. While any deal is unlikely to be made official while Saprissa plays their last games of 2016, it will take a bit more than kind words to pry him away from Portland. Guzman fits United’s two pronged approach of building for the long term and prioritizing defense, but they may not fit his plans.

Jorge Claros

30 years old, Honduras, Defensive Midfield

Most of Minnesota’s strategy has been to build for the long term. However the team’s attempts to prioritize defense makes the veteran Claros an intriguing candidate. A consistent feature of both club and country, Claros has been a defensive fulcrum for teams around the world. In addition to his native Honduras, he served as a thunderfooted, gun-for-hire in Scotland, China and Kansas City. Still, he has called Costa Rica the best competition in all Central America.

 

More than his attempts at long distance strikes, Claros offers a steady presence in the midfield. Los Rojinegros have been almost as stingy defensively as their purple rivals. And unsurprisingly, the late equalizer Wednesday night leaked across the line only two minutes after Claros departed.

Outlook: Cloudy

With his contract ending on January 1st, Claros is more available than others. However, though he isn’t ancient by any means, he is…well-traveled. And the time in the US and China leave only 8 caps verifiable caps. More troubling, a match report from Wednesday night, said Claros was “the clearest example of deterioration” on the pitch. He also struggled to run before the substitution. If Minnesota believes he’s the stalwart force who holds down the middle for the national team, he may be a helpful veteran presence. If they see him as worn-out, he may be best served with a return to Honduras.

Jose Guillermo-Ortiz

24 years old, Costa Rica, Center-Forward

Like Claros, Guillermo-Ortiz is out of contract at the end of this month. Unlike Claros, Guillermo-Ortiz is younger, less-traveled, and more obviously offensive minded. However, Alajuelense has come to rely more significantly on Ortiz’s fellow Center-Forward, Jonathan MacDonald. That leaves the local youth team product looking for a team.

Guillermo-Ortiz has the versatility to play any position at the top of the field. It’s worth noting that Guillermo-Ortiz has only 8 fewer goals than the previously mentioned Colindres, in a little more than 100 fewer matches (and 7 fewer years).

As an added perk, the small sample size Minnesota’s brass has had for Costa Rican players won’t diminish his appeal. Even without scoring, Guillermo-Ortiz had a precise cross to striking partner MacDonald to score the Lions’ goal on Wednesday night.

Outlook: Questionable.

The former president of Alajuense has been lobbying for Ortiz to stay put despite heavy local rumors that the striker is close to signing with another top local club (Heredino). That same president claims DC United had an offer for the striker a few months ago. That would be Amos Magee’s former employers, DC United. It is unclear whether or not that offer stands, or whether former DC coach Magee had a voice in those conversations. It’s even more unclear whether Ortiz would fit in a front-line that could include young Femi Hollinger-Janzen, an NASL golden boot winner, and a top draft pick.  But Guillermo-Ortiz is an intriguing striking prospect, especially for a pair of coaches who specialize in player development.

What do you think? Is there another talent we overlooked, but you hope Lagos and Heath did not?

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  • John Herman

    Let’s take ’em!

    I am so down with getting some Tico synergy going with Colindres and Venegas and ________. Calvo checks all my center back boxes too, hopefully we’re able to make a bit of a splash there with him or someone like him. I would love to get Guzman up here too as a D Mid upgrade (nothing personal, Collen Warner).

    Is it just me, or are there not many defenders from latin american countries in the MLS? Is it just that MLS is behind the other leagues technically a bit and the difference it makes in defense isn’t worth the int’l spot and costs?

    Related question, and excuse my ignorance if the answer is obvious: if you could make assemble a roster from the CONCACAF nations, what portion of the defenders would you pull from the USMNT?

    • Jeff Rueter

      This latter question is a very good one.

      If you’re asking me, I’m probably pulling exclusively USMNT and El Tri CBs. The modern full back is so close to being a winger than you can find quality players all over CONCACAF. As far as true center backs, though, the two powerhouses seem to be ahead of the rest.

  • Edu Rosales

    From the ones you mentioned, I think that JG Ortiz would be great. He’s one of the few players at Alajuelense that on a very bad season still gives a damn about the team. This guy is a real hard worker and could fit in any MLS team. Sometimes his definition is not as sharp as you’d like but he is always creating chances. Too bad for his whole mess with his contract, hopefully he can get out of Alajuela’s sinking ship soon.

    Calvo would also be a great addition but like you pointed out, MNUFC wouldn’t be the only potential buyer.

    • Wes

      Your Costa Rica flag is going to get a little bit of use this season, eh?