Last week the much speculated, and often talked about, 23rd MLS club looked to become more of a reality. For the past year it's been endlessly discussed but finally a conclusion looks to be on the horizon. The speculation had been either the other NASL club San Antonio Scorpions or the USL’s Sacramento Republic would be the two options. But when it all came down to the final decision, it looked like the league didn’t want another club in California.
What will Minnesota United bring into the league? A well known, rabid fan base, that have a great reputation. In the stadium they have a great fan club called the Dark Clouds, with great merchandise and even a book out about them. Search 'Minnesota soccer' and you'll find many articles, on many blogs, new and old, that highlight the depth of love of the sport over many generations.
What about the club staff? They have many staff members who are very active on social media, including their marketing coordinator who is always accessible and very friendly.
Merchandise? Not only does the club have some great scarves, but the supporters groups have an online store for all your needs. They're, overall, a very organised and efficient outfit.
Minnesota United has a family friendly supporters group called the Loons Nest. They are an offshoot of the Dark Clouds. Both groups, like many here in the States, do many charitable things and run races for good causes too. When you want to think of the Dark Clouds and the Loons Nest, there’s really no good comparison, since every supporters group is different. They’ll be up against the Timber’s Army in Major League Soccer and other great ones. Minnesota United isn’t a made up club from two larger entities looking for money or a way around the rules.
Minnesota United is responsible for the first modern day NASL player being on the USA National Team in Miguel Ibarra - a young, exciting attacking player who could prove to the coaches in MLS that they were wrong about him. And the talent doesn’t stop there, his running mate with the club Christian Ramirez is good enough to play in the league. The question is, does Minnesota keep them both? Like with any young player with talent, the thought of cashing in might appeal.
Is it beneficial to Major League Soccer to have a team in Minnesota? It’s always good for the league to expand. We’ve reached a point where the sport is huge, and pockets of the country that have had the sport since the 1970s, like Minnesota, get the chance to be in the first division again. The state had teams in the old NASL in the late 70’s and 80’s. There have been clubs on and off since then, who brought names such as Amos Magee, Manny Lagos and Tony Sanneh to the country and the world.
Time will tell how great the expansion into Minnesota will be. Unlike Miami where there’s an underwear model as the owner, Minnesota doesn’t need sex appeal, it prefers substance and determination. Oh, and lots of cold weather. Bruce McGuire, a health care millionaire, will give his all to get the club to be as great as it can be and it'll certainly be worth keeping an eye on.
By Stephen Brandt – Liverpool fan – @