Minnesota has its man back. The club announced Thursday it signed American midfielder Miguel Ibarra from Club Leon. Minnesota traded goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who was acquired in last month’s expansion draft, to Portland in order to secure Ibarra’s MLS rights. Portland previously held Ibarra’s rights through a discovery claim.
This will be Ibarra’s second stint with the Loons after he previously played for the club from 2012-2015 in NASL. It was during those three-and-a-half seasons (Ibarra was sold mid-way through 2015) that Ibarra became a breakout star on the American soccer scene, scoring 17 goals across 90 appearances. His 2014 season caught the eye of former U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who called Ibarra into that year’s October camp. Ibarra has earned three caps for the USMNT.
Following his breakout season in 2014, Ibarra was sold to Liga MX’s Club Leon. He struggled for playing time with the Mexican side, making just eight league appearances and finding the back of the net only once. He did, however, play in 11 Copa MX games, scoring three goals in the competition.
The move serves Minnesota the dual purpose of a proven talent to build its attack around while also energizing supporters by bringing back a fan favorite. Ibarra should be happy as well. He returns to a familiar situation where he’s guaranteed maximum playing time.
Minnesota now has 10 players under contract for 2017.