As Minnesota United prepares for its first foray into the Major League Soccer playoffs, the club has a flamingo on the field.
Christian Díaz, who played left back for most of Forward Madison FC’s matches this season, is in Minnesota training with the club for a week, Madison head coach Daryl Shore confirmed Tuesday.
“They asked him to come up and train with them,” Shore said. “So he’s up there for a week, just getting a lot of training, getting a look, but also helping them with their numbers while they get ready for the playoffs.”
That doesn’t mean an MLS contract is coming anytime soon, but it does mean the Minnesota United staff saw something they liked in his performance.
The club has reason to be familiar with Díaz — Minnesota United players Carter Manley and Wyatt Omsberg spent most of the season on loan to Madison, playing alongside Díaz and team captain Connor Tobin to form a backline that allowed less than half a goal per game over the last three months of the regular season.
Díaz, 27, is no stranger to top-flight competition; he played for both Atlas FC and Leones Negroes in Liga MX, Mexico’s top soccer league.
Tobin thinks Díaz has what it takes, should an opportunity to make the jump to MLS come to pass.
“The big thing with him is he’s technically so sound,” Tobin said. “Usually when you have technically sound players like that, even when you move up and you’re surrounded by better players, it allows you to make a seamless transition. So I don’t see anything that would hold him back. The question becomes does he read the game well enough, and is he athletic enough at that level? My personal opinion is yes. But you also gotta find the right situation and have things fall into place for you.”
That technical ability bore out in the stats — he finished the year with 51 tackles (at a 71 percent success rate) and tied with teammate Eric Leonard for second-most interceptions in the league, also 51. He also got involved in the attack regularly, creating 12 chances in 26 appearances.