The Minnesota Kicks was a professional soccer team that played at Metropolitan Stadium in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota, from 1976 to 1981. The team was a member of the now defunct North American Soccer League (NASL). Initially known as the Denver Dynamos, the team relocated and became the Minnesota Kicks in 1976. The Kicks quickly became one of the league's more popular teams, with an average attendance of 23,120 fans per game in 1976.[1] The Kicks won their division four years in a row from 1976 to 1979. The Kicks drew over 23,000 fans in each season from 1976 to 1979, with attendance peaking at 32,775 in 1977.

Minnesota Kicks
Full nameMinnesota Kicks
FoundedJanuary 1976
DissolvedDecember 1981; 42 years ago (December 1981)
StadiumMetropolitan Stadium
Met Center (indoor)
15,184 (indoor)
LeagueNorth American Soccer League

History edit

The team had relocated to Minnesota after having been based in Denver, Colorado, as the Denver Dynamos. A group of ten investors from Minnesota, led by Jack Crocker, bought the Denver team on November 25, 1975, and relocated to Minnesota. The name "Kicks" was selected by a name-the-team contest, and announced on January 28, 1976. Freddie Goodwin, who had previously coached the New York Generals, was named the first coach on February 19, 1976. Goodwin served also as team president starting in August 1976.

The team began the 1976 season slowly, however by the end of its first season the team had won the Western Division. During the season, the Kicks boosted their roster by signing Ade Coker from Boston. The Kicks also played Glasgow Rangers to a 2–2 draw in a friendly. Minnesota was a success with fans, averaging 23,117 per game, including 42,065 for its regular season finale,[2] But it was a game with the New York Cosmos on June 9 that convinced that The Kicks have arrived. With Pelé playing for the Cosmos, the Cosmos beat the Kicks 2–1, but the Kicks set a new NASL record of 46,164 fans.[3] The team was led by leading scorer Alan Willey with 16 goals. The 1976 playoffs included a 3–0 win over Seattle, followed by a 3–1 win over San Jose in front of a Kicks record of 49,576 fans, and finished with a 3–0 loss to the Toronto Metros-Croatia in the 1976 Soccer Bowl at Seattle's Kingdome in front of 25,000, with the winning goal scored by Portuguese legend Eusébio.

In 1977, the Kicks won the Western Division again, and averaged 32,775 fans, second only to the New York Cosmos.[4] The Kicks were again led by Alan Willey with 14 goals, while midfielder Alan West was named to the All-Star team. The Kicks lost in the playoffs to Seattle.

In 1978 the Kicks won the Central Division, averaging 30,928 fans. The team's leading scorer was Alan Willey, with 21 goals. In the playoffs, the Kicks defeated Tulsa before losing to the New York Cosmos. After the 1978 season, Goodwin stepped down as coach.

Roy McCrohan was named coach December 1978, and he coached the team for the 1979 season. In 1979, the Kicks signed a major international star in defender Björn Nordqvist, Sweden's all-time caps leader.[5] The Kicks won the Central Division again in 1979, but fell to Tulsa in the playoffs. Once again, Alan Willey led the team's scoring with 21 goals, and Ace Ntsoelengoe was named to the All-Star Team.

After nine games into 1980 season, McCrohan was removed, and Goodwin again became coach. The Kicks finished the regular season second behind the Dallas Tornado in the Central Division, and lost in the playoffs to Dallas. Ace Ntsoelengoe was the team's leading scorer with 13 goals and 17 assists.

Stars for the Kicks included US Soccer Hall of Famers Patrick (Ace) Ntsoelengoe and Alan Willey, the league's fifth and third league all-time leading scorers respectively. Ron Futcher, who along with Willey played all six Kicks seasons, went on to become the league's fourth all-time leading scorer.

The Kicks were the first team in the NASL to win 4 straight division titles (1976–79).[citation needed] The team reached the playoffs each of its six seasons, but usually lost in the early rounds. The Minnesota Kicks are remembered for the tailgating in the Metropolitan Stadium parking lot. It became a cultural phenomenon in the late 1970s, with thousands of fans arriving early to socialize and consume beverages.

Demise edit

The original ownership group sold the team on November 12, 1980, to a group led by Englishman Ralph Sweet, who replaced Goodwin as coach early in the 1981 season. Goodwin remained president of the team until June 1981. The Kicks finished the 1981 season second in the Central Division. Ron Futcher was the team's leading scorer with 14 goals. The Kicks defeated Tulsa in the playoffs, but lost to Ft. Lauderdale in the quarterfinals.

The Kicks' last season was 1981. The team's last regular-season game was August 19, 1981, a 2–1 home win at Met Stadium over the Dallas Tornado. The team's last game at the Met was August 26, 1981, a 1–0 shootout playoff victory against the Tulsa Roughnecks. The team's last game was played on September 6, 1981, a 3–0 home playoff loss to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers played at the University of Minnesota's Memorial Stadium due to a schedule conflict with the Minnesota Twins in front of only 10,722 fans. The team had planned to move to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for the 1982 season.

The Kicks lost $2.5 million during the 1981 season.[6] By the end of the 1981 season, the Kicks were up for sale, the team missed a payment for its players and office staff, NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam was trying to find a buyer for the club, and the NASL announced it would play the 1981–82 indoor season without Minnesota.[7] The Kicks folded in December 1981. The NASL conducted a dispersal draft on December 7, 1981, in which five Kicks players were selected: Ace Ntsoelengoe by Toronto, Ron Futcher by Portland, Tino Lettieri by Vancouver, David Stride by Fort Lauderdale, Randy Phillips by Tulsa, and Tim Twellman by Tulsa. [1]

Year-by-year edit

NASL seasons edit

Season Won Lost Points Reg. season Playoffs Avg. Attend.
1976 15 9 138 1st, Pacific Conference, Western Division Won Division Championship (Seattle)
Won Conference Championship (San Jose)
Lost Soccer Bowl '76 (Toronto)
1977 16 10 137 1st, Pacific Conference, Western Division Lost Division Championship (Seattle) 32,775
1978 17 13 156 1st, National Conference, Central Division Won 1st Round (Tulsa)
Lost Conference Semifinal (Cosmos)
1979 21 9 184 1st, National Conference, Central Division Lost Conference Quarterfinal (Tulsa) 24,580
1980 16 16 147 2nd, National Conference, Central Division Lost 1st Round (Dallas) 18,279
1981 19 13 163 2nd, Central Division Won 1st Round (Tulsa)
Lost Quarterfinal (Ft. Lauderdale)

1976 Alan Willey, Ace Ntsoelengoe, Peter Brine, Alan Merrick (Captain), Ron Webster, Mike Flater, Chaka Ngcobo, Geoff Barnett, Sam Bick, Ron Futcher, Alan West, Doug Brooks, Smith Eggleston, Nick Owcharuk, Ade Coker, Tom Howe, Jeff Solem, Steve Litt, Frank Spraggon, Peter Short. Freddie Goodwin (Coach), Gary Smith (Trainer), Dave Nowicki (Ass't Trainer), Dr. James Priest (Team Physician).

1979 Willie Morgan, Gary Vogel, Tony Want, Alan Merrick, Ace Ntsoelengoe, Alan West, Chico Hamilton, Volkmar Gross, Mark Moran, Geoff Barnett, Bjorn Nordqvist (Captain), Alan Willey, Tino Lettieri, Ricardo Alonso, Steve Litt, Greg Villa, Brian Zins, Ron Futcher, Mike McLenaghan, Tim Twellman. Roy McCrohan (Head Coach), Gary Smith (Head Trainer), Jim Mulcahy (Ass't Trainer), Dr. James Priest (Team Physician), Freddie Goodwin (President).

NASL indoor edit

Minnesota participated in and finished as runners-up in the 1978 NASL Skelly Indoor Invitational.[8][9] They played one other match that year against Tampa Bay.[10] The NASL began playing a full schedule of indoor soccer in the fall of 1979. The Kicks played their home games at Met Center and participated for 2 seasons, before folding in November 1981, just a month before the start of the 1981–82 indoor season.

Season Won Lost Points Reg. season Playoffs Avg. Attend.
1978 1 2 NA Runner-up Skelly Invitational (Tulsa) no home games
1979–80 8 4 2nd, Western Division Won 1st Round (Tulsa)
Lost Semifinal (Memphis)
1980–81 12 6 2nd, Central Division Lost 1st Round (Atlanta) 5,877

International Friendlies edit

Date Visitor Score Host Venue Attendance
May 26, 1976   Glasgow Rangers 2–2 Minnesota Kicks Met Stadium 11,328
July 19, 1977   Hammarby IF 2–1 Minnesota Kicks Met Stadium 24,032
May 23, 1979   Ipswich Town F.C. 1–0 (shoot out) Minnesota Kicks Met Stadium 14,960
March 23, 1981 Minnesota Kicks 2–1   Crystal Palace F.C. Selhurst Park
March 25, 1981 Minnesota Kicks 2–1   Luton Town F.C. Kenilworth Road
March 30, 1981 Minnesota Kicks 1–0   Stoke City F.C. Victoria Ground

Honors edit

Coaching statistics edit

# Name Term Regular season Playoffs Overall
Games Won Lost Win% Games Won Lost Win% Games Won Lost Win%
1 Freddie Goodwin 1976–1978 80 48 32 .600 9 4 5 .444 89 52 37 .584
2 Roy McCrohan 1979–1980 39 23 16 .590 2 0 2 .000 41 23 18 .561
1 Freddie Goodwin 1980–1981 29 17 12 .586 2 0 2 .000 31 17 14 .548
3 Geoff Barnett 1981 26 16 10 .615 4 2 2 .500 30 18 12 .600
* Total 1976–1981 174 104 70 .598 17 6 11 .353 191 110 81 .576

Media coverage edit

Radio edit

  • 1976 WWTC-AM 1280
  • 1977 KSTP AM 1500
  • 1978–79 WWTC-AM 1280
  • 1980 KSTP-AM 1500
  • 1981 WAYL AM 980

Frank Buetel was the original play-by-play announcer (1976–79), followed by Al Shaver in 1980 and Doug McLeod in 1981.

Television edit

KSTP's original announcers were Kicks' public address announcer Rod Trongard and Tom Ryther. When Ryther left KSTP in March 1978, Bob Bruce replaced him. Ralph Jon Fritz called Kicks' games on WCCO.

Records edit

Records of the Minnesota Kicks are available for research use. They include manager's subject files (1976–1980), staff and player files, payrolls, marketing and promotional materials, financial files, and miscellaneous records. The bulk of the records are the files of team coach and manager Freddie Goodwin, and concern the general management of the franchise.[12]

See also edit

External links edit

References edit

  1. ^ Sports Illustrated, Minnesota Had To Eat Croatmeal, September 6, 1976,
  2. ^ Steve Holroyd, The Year in American Soccer – 1976, Archived January 7, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ THE MINNESOTA KICKS, 1975–81
  4. ^ Steve Holroyd, The Year in American Soccer – 1977, Archived July 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Steve Holroyd, The Year in American Soccer – 1979, Archived May 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Telegraph, :Is it still the sport of the '80s?", November 12, 1981,,2551485
  7. ^ The Telegraph, Is it still the sport of the '80s?, November 12, 1981,,2551485
  8. ^ Lobaugh, Tom (March 5, 1978). "Roughnecks Ramble Into Tourney Finals". Tulsa World. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  9. ^ Lobaugh, Tom (March 6, 1978). "Tulsa Kicks Up A Victory". Tulsa World. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  10. ^ Tierney, Mike (March 11, 1978). "Rowdies hit jackpot, blast Kicks". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1C. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  11. ^ Henderson, Jim (April 21, 1981). "For Keith Bailey, The Long Wait Is Finally Over". The Tampa Tribune. p. 5-C. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  12. ^ Minnesota Kicks Team Records