Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United FC is an American professional soccer club based in Saint Paul, Minnesota that plays in the Western Conference of Major League Soccer. The club began play in 2017 as the league's 22nd club, and replaced the North American Soccer League (NASL) franchise of the same name.
|Founded||March 25, 2015|
Saint Paul, Minnesota
|Head coach||Adrian Heath|
|League||Major League Soccer|
|2019||Western Conference: 4th|
Playoffs: First round
The club played its home games at TCF Bank Stadium, on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, for its first two seasons in MLS play. The club began playing in Saint Paul (becoming the city's fourth professional sports team, joining the Minnesota Wild, the St. Paul Saints, and Minnesota Whitecaps), at Allianz Field in the Midway neighborhood starting in the spring of 2019.
Minnesota United FC's ownership is led by Bill McGuire, former CEO of UnitedHealth Group, and includes other Minnesota sports owners: the Pohlad family, owners of the Twins; Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor; former Wild investor Glen Nelson, and his daughter Wendy Carlson Nelson of the Carlson hospitality company.
On March 25, 2015, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced Minnesota United as the league's 23rd club and awarded the franchise to a group led by McGuire. The ownership group includes other Minneapolis-St. Paul sports owners, Twins owner Jim Pohlad, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, and Wild investor Glen Nelson. They beat out a competing bid by Minnesota Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf (both of whom would later become minority owners of MLS expansion franchise Nashville SC). Garber said Minnesota would begin play in 2017 or 2018 – if Los Angeles FC was not ready to play in 2017, Minnesota would take its place.
The Minnesota Legislature had passed a bill in May 2012 for a new NFL stadium projected to open by fall 2016 and gave a provision allowing for the Vikings to pursue an MLS franchise, including a five-year exclusive window to host MLS games in the new stadium. The Wilfs' bid also had the support of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, and Minnesota Senator Tom Bakk called Major League Soccer to inform them that the state legislature would not be providing financing for a soccer-specific stadium. However, Commissioner Garber said that whenever possible, the league preferred a stadium that would be an "outdoor, soccer-specific stadium, 20,000 seats, playing on grass" as opposed to larger, covered venues with artificial turf like U.S. Bank Stadium, and McGuire had the support of Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and at least three members of the Minneapolis City Council.
The team played their inaugural Major League Soccer match on March 3, 2017, a 5–1 away defeat to the Portland Timbers at Providence Park. The result represented the heaviest defeat by an expansion side making their debut. Previously no MLS expansion team had lost by more than two goals in their first game. Christian Ramirez scored the team's first MLS goal. The following weekend they played their home opener against fellow expansion team Atlanta United FC in a snowstorm with an MLS record-low kickoff temperature of 19 °F (−7 °C). They lost the game 6–1, handing Minnesota more unwanted records including the record defeat of any expansion side and becoming the only team in MLS history to concede five or more in consecutive games. Following a 2–2 draw at the Colorado Rapids and a 5–2 loss at New England Revolution, United had conceded 18 goals in their first four games, which is an MLS record through the first six games of a season. The team got its first win in MLS with a 4–2 home victory over Real Salt Lake on April 1. As the season progressed, so had the team. In the mid season, Minnesota had acquired Duluth native Ethan Finlay from Columbus Crew SC and made other signings to improve on the field. United finished its inaugural MLS season in ninth place in the Western Conference.
MNUFC lost two key players - midfielders Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay - to season-ending knee injuries early in the 2018 season. Shortly before Finlay's injury, the team signed its first Designated Player; Darwin Quintero joined Minnesota United from Liga MX's Club América. Despite joining the team after five matches had already been played, Quintero lead the team for 2018 in both goals (11) and assists (15). On July 4, 2018, Quintero scored a hat trick in a home match versus Toronto FC, the first in Minnesota United's history. Colombian forward Ángelo Rodríguez joined the club as its second Designated Player later in the season. MNUFC averaged nearly 24,000 fans per match during its second year at TCF Bank Stadium, including a crowd of 52,242 at the final match in their temporary home. The team managed 10 wins at home, but struggled on the road with only one victory.
MNUFC made substantial roster additions prior to the 2019 season, including its third Designated Player, midfielder Ján Greguš from F.C. Copenhagen; 2017 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara, traded from Sporting KC; longtime Seattle Sounders defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso; Ligue 2 defender Romain Métanire; and goalkeeper [Vito Mannone], loaned from Reading F.C..
After beginning the 2019 season with five matches on the road, MNUFC played their first match at the new Allianz Field on April 13, earning a 3-3 draw versus New York City FC. The team went on to post 10 wins, 6 draws and 2 losses at home. MNUFC's performance on the road was vastly improved in 2019, posting 5 wins and 2 draws including a 2-0 statement win at LAFC on September 1.
The club made a very successful run in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup. On August 27, the club traveled to Mercedes Benz Stadium to take on Atlanta United in the Cup final, Minnesota's first final appearance since joining MLS. The match resulted in a 2–1 Atlanta victory.
MNUFC finished fourth in the Western Conference, after placing as high as second late in the regular season. As a result, the club was awarded a spot in the 2020 Leagues Cup. MNUFC played in its first MLS playoff match, hosting the LA Galaxy on October 20; the result was a 2-1 defeat.
Two players received league-wide honors at the conclusion of the season. Ike Opara was named 2019 MLS Defender of the Year, winning the award for the second time. Vito Mannone, who earned 11 cleansheets and conceded only 43 goals, was named 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
Colors and badgeEdit
The badge features a stylized loon, which is the state bird of Minnesota, with eleven spread feathers, one for each of the players on the field. The team's colors are sky blue, grey, and black, with a red accent. The blue line across the logo represents the Mississippi River. Either side of the blue represents the cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The grey color represents the Iron Range of Minnesota. The upward pointing crest and the North Star were inspired by L'Etoile du Nord which is the state motto. Zeus Jones created the designs.
In January 2017, Minnesota United announced that the Minnesota-based retail giant Target Corporation had become the team's first MLS kit sponsor. In addition to having their bullseye logo displayed on their jerseys, Target also became an official partner of Major League Soccer. This deal grants them airtime during MLS broadcasts along with other advertising opportunities affiliated with both the team and league.
Minnesota United's mascot is PK, a loon. PK has been the club mascot since mid-2014. The two main supporter groups of Minnesota United FC are Dark Clouds and True North Elite, although the over-arching organization "MNWonderwall" includes affiliated groups the Red Loons and Dark Glitterati as well. In early 2019, Wonderwall founded "THUNDERWALL", a coalition drumline permanently affixed in Allianz Field that provides percussion to support chants in the Wonderwall section during match days.
Coordinates: McGuire stated a desire to build an 18,500-seat, outdoor soccer-specific stadium next to the Minneapolis Farmers Market in downtown Minneapolis. At the time of the club's launch, the league did not give any timeline for the stadium plan, but said it was working on finalizing a plan by July 1, 2015, the deadline set by the league. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he would oppose a publicly financed stadium, but said he would not oppose ancillary support for infrastructure reinforcements.
In a plan released in April 2015, the ownership showed a projected cost for the stadium of $250 million: $100 million for MLS expansion fee, $30 million for land acquisition, and $120 million for construction. The ownership group met with Governor Dayton and other state political leaders to share the plan. The group asked the politicians for a sales tax exemption of up to $3 million on construction materials, as well as breaks or caps on city and county property taxes for the stadium site. The tax relief could potentially add up to around $50 million.
The day after the meeting, Mayor Hodges said she opposed the sales tax and property tax exemption because unlike other stadiums in Minneapolis that have received similar breaks, Minnesota United's stadium would be privately owned. The following week, the Minnesota Senate voted 61–4 to prevent any state funds or tax expenditures from being used for the stadium, although the vote was termed "largely symbolic" as McGuire had not asked for state funds and the bill would not prevent the team from seeking city or county funds. McGuire later said that he would be open to signing the property over to Minneapolis, Hennepin County, or another public entity if that would make property tax exemption possible.
Although the July 1 deadline passed without a stadium deal, and the plan for a Downtown Minneapolis stadium was the primary reason for choosing McGuire's group, league deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said Minnesota was still considered an expansion site, partly because of interest from the neighboring St. Paul. Later that month, St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman spoke to Abbott proposed building on a city-owned vacant lot that formerly housed the Metro Transit bus barn near Interstate 94.
On August 31, 2015, the team's deal for an exclusive right to purchase industrial land near the Farmer's Market expired with no public statement about any extension of the deal.
On September 8, 2015, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners passed a non-binding resolution to support the stadium's construction on the St. Paul bus barn site, provided the design and construction are paid for by private funds. On October 23, 2015, it was announced that Minnesota United would build a stadium on the 35-acre St. Paul Bus Barn site. The proposed stadium will seat approximately 20,000, is to be completed in 2018, and will be privately financed.
On November 25, 2015, Minnesota United FC hired Populous to design the stadium. On December 9, 2015, the team hired Mortenson Construction as part of the stadium construction along with Populous.
On February 24, 2016, the team revealed design plans for their 21,500-seat soccer-specific stadium, set to be built by 2018 and financed privately by the team.
On August 19, 2016, it was announced that Minnesota United would play in the 2017 Major League Soccer season, with home matches at TCF Bank Stadium. The stadium had been home to the club for 2017–2018 while their soccer specific stadium was in construction.
Players and staffEdit
- As of February 17, 2020
Out on loanEdit
|97||Goalkeeper||Dayne St. Clair (GA; at San Antonio FC)||Canada|
|—||Midfielder||Romario Ibarra (at Pachuca)||Ecuador|
List of seasonsEdit
- As of October 20, 2019
|2017||34||10||18||6||47||70||36||9th||19th||DNQ||4R||Not eligible||Christian Ramirez||14|
Record vs. international opponentsEdit
|Date||Competition||Venue||Home Team||Result||Away Team|
|February 3, 2017||Friendly||Kino Sports Complex||Minnesota United FC||1–1||NK Istra 1961|
|July 15, 2017||Friendly||TCF Bank Stadium||Minnesota United FC||1–1||Atlas|
|July 11, 2018||Friendly||TCF Bank Stadium||Minnesota United FC||1–2||Saprissa|
|May 22, 2019||Friendly||Allianz Field||Minnesota United FC||0–1||Hertha Berlin|
|July 17, 2019||Friendly||Allianz Field||Minnesota United FC||0–3||Aston Villa|
|September 7, 2019||Friendly||Allianz Field||Minnesota United FC||2–2||C.F. Pachuca|
All non-nationally broadcast Minnesota United games were broadcast locally on WFTC for the 2017 Major League Soccer season, then moved to Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin in the 2018 season. KSTP serves as the team's radio partner.
Minnesota United's commentary team features Callum Williams as the play-by-play commentator. Williams had previously worked for Sporting Kansas City when they were known as the Kansas City Wizards and during their rebrand as Sporting Kansas City. He has also worked in his native UK for notable broadcasters including the BBC and Sky Sports. Williams is joined in the commentary box by Kyndra de St. Aubin who provides color commentary. De St. Aubin, a Stillwater native, is the only female color commentator currently covering Major League Soccer. Prior to joining Minnesota United's broadcast team, she worked across the country covering many men's and women's soccer games at college and professional levels. She also covered the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup as part of the five broadcast teams that covered that tournament. Williams and de Saint Aubin are joined by sideline commentator and former Minnesota United player Jamie Watson.
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- "Fans | Supporters | Minnesota United FC".
- "Tradition Tuesday: Wonderwall". March 7, 2017. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
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- "A vision for the future – Minnesota United". Minnesota United FC. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
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- Bedakian, Armen. "Minnesota United Reveal Plans for New Soccer-Specific Stadium". The Score. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
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- Wright, Chris (December 15, 2017). "Allianz Field Announcement" (Video, Live Stream). Minnesota United FC. Retrieved March 5, 2018 – via YouTube.
We're going to open in March 2019, with 451 days to go.
- Stejskal, Sam (August 19, 2016). "Minnesota United FC to join MLS in 2017, debuting at TCF Bank Stadium". Major League Soccer. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
- "Minnesota United Begin MLS Play in 2017". Minnesota United FC. August 19, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
- La Vaque, David; Van Berkel, Jessie (August 19, 2016). "Minnesota United is joining Major League Soccer in 2017". Star Tribune. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- "Minnesota United FC Roster". mnunitedfc.com. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
- "Minnesota United Names Head Coach". Minnesota United FC. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
- "Technical Staff". Minnesota United FC. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
- "Tim Carter • Academy Director". Minnesota United FC. February 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
- "Front Office Staff". Minnesota United FC. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
- "HIGHLIGHTS: Minnesota United FC vs. Atlas FC". mnufc.com. July 15, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
- "Pangop Scores First Goal in 2-1 Exhibition Loss to Saprissa". mnufc.com. July 11, 2018. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
- "MNUFC Depth on Display in 1-0 Loss to Hertha Berlin". mnufc.com. May 22, 2019. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
- Connor, Dan (July 18, 2019). "The Verdict: Minnesota United 0-3 Aston Villa". Aston Villa F.C.
- "FOX Sports North, Minnesota United announce programming agreement" (Press release). Fox Sports Group. February 8, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
- Greder, Andy (January 15, 2017). "United to hire Callum Williams to be TV play-by-play voice in MLS". Pioneer Press. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- Lucia, Ali (March 7, 2017). "Minnesotan To Meet: Minnesota United's Kyndra de St. Aubin". CBS Local. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- "Kyndra de St. Aubin: MNUFC Color Commentator". mnufc.com. January 18, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.