Is Emanuel Reynoso the Best Player in MLS?

After a dazzling Wednesday night of athletic artistry that included 2 assists in the United’s 3-2 win over Philadelphia, Loons’ coach Adrian Heath stepped onto the press conference podium in the bowels of Allianz Field and declared, “I think (Emanuel Reynoso) might be the best player in the league at this moment in time. I really do.”

The 60-year-old Heath, who played in the English Premier League during the 1980s and 90s, even daydreamed about suiting up with his star midfielder, “I wish I was playing up front, playing in front of Rey,” the coach opined, “because his vision and his quality are exceptional.”

As a recent fan of soccer, who has been obsessively following the MLS the last few months, I began to wonder: Was this just a coach using hyperbole to hype-up his star player? And how many people in Minnesota actually know about Emanuel Reynoso?

Of course, I can’t answer either of those questions.  And as a soccer novice, I am ignorant of much of the game’s strategy and jargon, but as a lifelong sports fan, I do know talent when I see it. There is no doubt Reynoso is gifted.

I have noticed that soccer is a game of freedom and artistry. It doesn’t feel micromanaged by coaches or referees like many American team sports.  The clock guides the game, it doesn’t rule it. A perfect fit for the creativity of Reynoso.

A virtuoso playmaker with a sixth sense on the pitch, Reynoso unleashes spot-on, back-heel passes to teammates he can’t possibly see without breaking stride.  In fact, he’s so focused on setting up his teammates, it can limit his own scoring chances. At least according to his coach.

“(Reynoso’s) just got incredible vision and awareness of what’s going on around him,” Heath pointed out. “We always say, the people who fetch the most money are the people that can make a goal and score a goal. I want him to score more. But…we’ve got one hell of a player for sure.”

The 25-year-old Argentinian debuted in Minnesota last September after a drawn-out transfer process from the Boca Juniors, a senior club team in Buenos Aires.  After posting a goal and 7 assists in 13 regular season games, Reynoso caught fire in the postseason, leading the United to the Western Conference Final with an MLS Playoff-record 7 assists in three matches.

In 25 contests this season, the midfielder has scored 4 goals, dished out 10 assists and ranks second in the MLS with 77 key passes.  With just 4 matches left in the regular season and the Loons tenuously holding one of the conference’s final playoff spots, it’s time for Reynoso to back up his coach’s bold words…

-David Zingler

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