ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United declined to pick up the 2020 contract option on longtime Loon and fan favorite Miguel Ibarra on Thursday, Nov. 21, but exercised clauses to keep fellow attacking players Ethan Finlay and Kevin Molino in St. Paul next season.
United technical director Mark Watson said the Loons still want to bring Ibarra back but at a lower salary. Ibarra, who first joined Minnesota in 2012, was paid $342,000 last season and produced only one goal and two assists in 1,505 minutes.
“There have been a lot of good moments for Miguel with Minnesota United,” Watson said Thursday. “But I want to reiterate this is a contractual decision for 2020, and we are hoping that if he does get through the different process, we could potentially have him back at a different number.”
Finlay, second on the Loons with seven goals last season, will come back despite being excluded from Minnesota’s 12 protected players in this week’s expansion draft. Finlay, who was paid $400,000 last year, was not selected by either Nashville or Miami on Tuesday.
“Ethan is another valuable member,” Watson said. “… He is someone who has done very well for us as well, but as a club we are looking at all options to improve the club moving forward. We’ll see what happens.”
Watson said the club saw “definite value” in keeping Molino as one of its attacking players for next season. He had three goals and four assists in 2019 and was paid $546,000 last year.
“He is a big part of our group,” Watson said. “… It was not sustainable to keep all those (attacking) players on the roster on their number, so there are some really hard decisions and ultimately the path forward was to keep Kevin on his number.”
Minnesota’s attacking overhaul cut deeper when forward Abu Danladi selected by Nashville in the expansion draft. It comes in addition to forward Angelo Rodriguez remaining on United’s roster but expected to be elsewhere by next season. He, too, was exposed in the expansion draft.
“It is definitely a position of need, so we are looking at all our options within the league and outside the league,” Watson said. “It’s something that we want to get better moving forward and have more goals from that position.”
Marlon Hairston, the midfielder Minnesota received in the trade of attacking midfielder Darwin Quintero to Houston, and center back Wyatt Omsberg, a 2017 draft pick, also received renewed options.
Minnesota United also declined an option on defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum, while goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth is out of contract.