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Minnesota United FC Games
Minnesota United FC is one of the newest teams to Major League Soccer (MLS), established as the 23rd MLS soccer club in 2015. The North American Soccer League (NASL) had a franchise with the same name in Minnesota, but they were replaced when MLS entered the market. The team is based in Saint Paul, the capital of Minnesota, which makes up one half of the “Twin Cities.” Although this is only the fourth professional sports team in Saint Paul, Minnesota United FC – also known as The Loons, after the state bird – seem to be headed in the right direction after a rough start.
Although officially formed in 2015, Minnesota United FC did not start competing until 2017. Their first match was a complete letdown, a stark loss against the Portland Timbers. Their second game was equally disappointing, losing 6-1 against Atlanta United FC, another new market in MLS. After a series of disappointing matches early on, Minnesota United FC learned from their mistakes and won a match against Real Salt Lake. By the end of their first season, they came in ninth place out of thirteen in the Western Conference. Not bad, considering the unfortunate start. In 2018, despite some injured key players, the team pulled through. Their final home match pulled in a massive audience of 52,242, and their home plays throughout the season averaged over 20,000 fans per match. At home, Minnesota United FC won an awesome ten matches that year, but on the road their performance was poor. In 2019, The Loons showed continued growth, making fourth place in the Western Conference and seventh place overall. This remarkable improvement is promising for fans of the team.
Since Minnesota United FC was formed, there were always plans to develop a soccer-specific stadium in Saint Pail, Minnesota. This promise to MLS was fulfilled in 2019, when Allianz Field opened for its first season. Ground broke at the end of 2016, and the project cost around $200 million. The grass surface field is pristine, and the stadium itself can seat around 20,000. Though it may be a little small for the number of fans the team pulls in these days, it is a good size. It is conveniently located near public transit, which shows thoughtful, city-focused design.
It is still a little too early to tell if these newcomers are a serious threat to more established teams in MLS. Their rapid advancement in performance is a good sign for those who are loyal to the team. It will be fascinating to see how rivalries develop for The Loons, especially because the team has no obvious geographic or neighboring rivals to date. They are definitely a team to watch as MLS continues to spread its reach throughout the United States and Canada.