An early own goal helped Atlanta United hold on for the win against Minnesota United after being reduced to 10 men before halftime.

Darwin Quintero believes Minnesota United can “become champions” in MLS and will be “going for everything” as he was introduced as the first designated player in club history in Monday.

Quintero, 30, completed his move to Minnesota in a transfer from Mexican giants Club America last weekend.

The Loons missed the playoffs by 10 points in their inaugural MLS season, but Quintero said at his first news conference that he has set his sights high.

“It’s an ambitious project that we have here but together we can achieve really great things, become champions, and I hope everyone is on board for the work that we’re going to put in,” Quintero said through a translator.

“We’re going for everything. We want to be up there at the top and for that we’re going to continue to work hard.”

Minnesota’s director of player personnel Amos Magee said United has been tracking Quintero for some time, and when coach Adrian Heath and sporting director Manny Lagos flew to Panama last month to watch him in America’s CONCACAF Champions League game, it was to get to know him, and not a scouting trip.

Darwin Quintero
Darwin Quintero wants to turn Minnesota United into a contender.

Quintero said the club’s hierarchy made him feel he would be a “very important part” of turning United into a contender, and Heath said he could help improve a Minnesota attack that ranked 16th in MLS last season with 47 goals scored, and last in the Western Conference with a minus-23 goal difference.

“His nickname is ‘The Scientest of the Goal,'” Heath said. “I think that tells you everything you need to know about him as player. I know that he’s going to help us in the most important part of the field, the final third.

“That’s why forwards go for the most money, invariably they earn the most money, is because the hardest thing in football is to score and make goals, and he’s consistently done that throughout his career.”

Heath pointed to Saturday’s defeat to Atlanta United — when the Loons lost 1-0 despite dominating possession in the second half — as a time where Quintero’s talent would have come in handy.

“I just think that somebody like Darwin would have been able to pick a pass, might have been able to make a final pass, might have been able to create something in the final third,” the manager said.

Quintero was on hand for the game and said he believed his preferred style of play would fit well in Heath’s tactics.

“From what I saw from the game this past weekend the team didn’t deserve to lose,” Quintero said. “I saw a good game with a lot of good qualities and playing down the wings, which I think is something that coach particularly likes.

“And the way that I like to play, playing central and with the wings is something that I’ll really be able to support this club with.”

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