Back on March 25, 2015, Major League Soccer commissioner, Don Garber, announced Minnesota United FC as the league’s 23rd club and added that it would be led by a group headed up by former UnitedHealth CEO, Bill McGuire (a team that includes Twins owner, Jim Pohlad, and Timberwolves owner, Glen Taylor).
Fast forward two years — the United are six games into their first regular season, currently last in the Western Conference, and sporting a 1-1-4 record (wins-draws-losses). While things may seem a bit bleak to many Minnesotans who are just getting their first glimpse of Major League Soccer, there are many positive signs that deserve to be acknowledged.
Let’s dig into the details that give us hope of a bright future for our Minnesota United FC.
The United are 1 and 1 at home
I’ll be honest — their overall record looks bad. But considering that only 2 of their first 6 games have been played at home, it’s not really bad at all. As of October 22, 2016, Grant Wahl from Sports Illustrated predicted MN United would win 5 games in their first campaign, writing, “But I make a lot of calls around MLS, and I can’t tell you how many coaches, GMs and agents there are who are saying Minnesota in its first year might be one of the worst teams in MLS history on the field.” If the United could simply maintain its current pace when playing at home, they would win 8 or 9 games this year (which also assumes they don’t win a single game on the road). For an expansion team in its first year, and one which was only officially included in mid-August (giving it the smallest window to get ready for a season of any team since 1998), this is a very solid starting point.
Attendance is high
According to Soccer Stadium Digest, Minnesota ranks fifth in the league in attendance with an average of 26,386 per game. That being said, it will almost certainly dip after the initial excitement wears off. At the Twin Cities Agenda, we are keeping our fingers crossed that fans continue to show up and that they understand this is a building process.
The future stadium for the Minnesota United FC looks amazing (and it didn’t cost $1B)
The roughly 20,000 seat stadium, which is being built in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul at the intersection of Snelling and University, will boast some pretty incredible features. It is an outdoor stadium with real grass and will have a canopy that protects the majority of seats from the elements. My favorite part of the stadium is that the furthest seat from the field is only 125 feet away from the action. It is projected to open in 2018 and will give the club a leg up on many other franchises that do not have their own stadium. The best part? It didn’t cost $1B, unlike that other stadium in downtown MPLS. In fact, the $150M projected cost is being privately funded by the investment group that owns the team. Yes, there is some public money being used to figure out logistics around the stadium, but I still consider it to be a big win for St. Paul. Read more stadium details here.
The team’s front office apparently is not afraid to spend big money
Minnesota United made a huge splash when they sent $650,000 to Orlando City SC in order to acquire Kevin Molino, a midfielder and native of Trinidad and Tobago. Molino is young and widely considered to be one of the most dynamic midfielders in Major League Soccer, which makes him a great fit to build a team around. The United’s head coach, Adrian Heath, worked with Molino from 2011 through 2016 when Heath coached in Orlando.
Soccer is a wonderful sport, especially for Minnesota’s youth, so now is the time to get out and show your support for Minnesota’s newest professional sports franchise. Let’s rally around this team to help ensure its future stays as bright as it looks right now.
Upcoming Home Games:
Sunday, April 23 vs Colorado Rapids
TCF Bank Stadium
Saturday, April 29 vs San Jose Earthquakes
TCF Bank Stadium
Sunday, May 7 vs Sporting Kansas City
TCF Bank Stadium