Tag Archives: Minnesota United FC

Goals are great, but not enough for a MNUFC win

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, April 14: 3-2 Loss

Last week’s Minnesota United FC story was all about the positive expectations of Darwin Quintero’s debut, the fuel he could bring to the Loons’ offense. Against the Portland Timbers on Saturday night, he performed exactly as fans had hoped. The match gave some insight into the goal-scoring potential of the Loons’ attack with Quintero on the squad.

Unfortunately, the match also showcased the weakness that has proven to be the club’s Achilles heel since their major league debut.

Defense.

Powell was gifted a chance just 20 minutes in when, as described by the home side’s commentators, “he had the freedom to move forward” and “he had both defenders at his disposal.” Those defenders were Marc Burch, who found himself on the wrong side of his mark, and Francisco Calvo, who couldn’t beat Powell back to the box. Minutes later Powell is allowed plenty of space to feed Valeri, who was hanging out with little cover in front of the goal just waiting for a chance.

Similar scenes would play out again with Portland given plenty of chances to score. They would end with three goals, a fourth having been ruled offside.

Yes, Minnesota’s offense had plenty of beautiful chances as well. Darwin “The Scientist” Quintero notched his first MLS goal on a throw-in by rookie Carter Manley and, kind of,  notched a second when his volley was knocked in by a Portland defender who mistimed his clearance. Ibarra knocked one in which was ruled offside, then had a near miss later on. Ramirez, still yet to score this season, just missed a header assisted by Quintero and nearly executed a turn-and-shoot move which served him well in the NASL, but was off frame this go around.

The bye-week attitude was, ‘Sure, defense is necessary, but so are goals.’ After this weekend, having gifted Portland their first win of the season, it’s the reverse: Goals are great, but they mean nothing without defense.

If the Loons’ defense cannot hold up this coming Sunday, they risk giving last-place Seattle Sounders their first win of the season just as they did for Portland on Saturday. This weekend, Minnesota needs a well-rested defensive line of match-fit players who communicate successfully to stand strong against Seattle’s attack.

And, yes, they should probably score some goals, too.

Featured image of Quintero courtesy: @MNUFC

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Starting a DP could mean finishing on frame

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Bye week

Most games involving a red card ejection end in favor of the fully-staffed squad. So when Atlanta United’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was sent off in the 38th minute last Saturday, Minnesota United fans were right to feel optimistic. Down one-nil after Calvo’s own-goal, surely they could earn back at least one point against ten men.

They would not. Eleven Loons faced a white wall rooted in front of the goal. They would have been better off with ten men against a full squad of mobile peach-clad men.

Historically, Minnesota plays better with the disadvantage. Their home match against New York Cosmos in 2016, MNUFC’s final season in the NASL, is a prime example.

 

Both teams played high, quickly moving the ball forward to get shots into the box. Both sides had chances early on, only to be beaten on the counterattack just one touch shy of the goal. Minnesota’s Sammy Ndjock made some beautiful saves with his infamously sticky gloves, Ibson was in prime Ib-sanity, and every ball trick was deployed in search of the elusive difference-making goal. Ben Speas even had a chance at a Zlatan-esque goal on a shot from midfield (4:55).

Christian Ramirez, who was severely hampered by Atlanta’s wall after replacing Danladi, had plenty of chances that night against New York. Every attempt was thwarted by a quick and desperate Cosmos defense until the 90th minute when Justin Davis caught Ramirez on the run (6:25), delivering a ball just behind the final defender which Ramirez settled with one touch before sending it under Maurer and across the line for the match winner.

That finish made all the difference.

Darwin Quintero’s finishing could be the difference this season. Minnesota’s first Designated Player, known as ‘El Cientifico del Gol’ – The Scientist of the Goal – the Columbian forward is known for finding his way through tight spaces and beating defenders in the box. Check out these highlights from his 2016 season with Club America.

At 1:50, Quintero is surrounding and shoots past two defenders and a keeper who are struggling to regain their footing after a messy clearance. This skill and composure in traffic would have been a huge asset for MNUFC last weekend versus Atlanta.

As for his work inside the 18, fast forward to 3:05, where four defenders in the box are focused on the attackers and the ball on the right wing. The Scientist sneaks through the center of the group unseen to receive the cross behind them and smashes the ball into the back of the net.

Quintero’s role as a withdrawn striker in those games would have made him a perfect fit in the Loons’ lineup against bunkered Atlanta. Sure, by now the 30-year old’s speed may be somewhat diminished, but he could make a more dependable target in the box for Ethan Finlay or Sam Nicholson than an injured Ramirez or the speedy but tactically-deficient Danladi.

The Scientist’s debut depends on the arrival of his visa paperwork, but rumors point to sometime in April. Whenever that is, Quintero is sure to add more intrigue for fans frustrated by the Loons’ last showing.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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Minnesota United v Atlanta United

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 31: 0-1 Loss

Two Uniteds meet again in the frigid cold. One dominates in possession and manpower. The other scores. Or did they?

Last season, Minnesota United lost their inaugural MLS home match to fellow expansion team Atlanta United, 6 – 1, on a league-record breaking, cold and snowy day, known simply as the “Snow Opener” (or “Snowpener” if you’re saving characters on Twitter). In the second home match of their second MLS season, Minnesota had a much different showing. But they still lost. So what went wrong?

The Loons were set up for an attack-heavy game, with a recovered Abu Danladi starting at forward in the preferred 4-2-3-1. Speed was favored over Christian Ramirez’s size up front. But Atlanta came out with a 3-4-1-2 setup, fronted by Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba, to exploit Minnesota’s defensive weaknesses. The focus on speed led to a frantic start, with Atlanta drawing a yellow card before the first minute mark.

Shortly thereafter, Atlanta scored on a corner, when a ball blocked by Matt Lampson was then redirected by Minnesota defenseman Francisco Calvo. His own-goal would seal the game.

Minnesota fans rightfully expected the game to turn around after Atlanta’s Gonzalez Pirez was sent off in the 37th minute. Surely the Loons couldn’t lose a match in which they would go on to dominate with 70.7 percent possession and while up a man.

Unfortunately, Danladi’s youth and speed did not figure into this match. He had some great attempts in the box, attempting to flick the ball around Atlanta’s defense, but seemed lost in the sea of peach-and-white. Ramirez, subbing in late, looked more comfortable in the box, but again saw no results. Rookie Mason Toye also looked dangerous in his few touches but has yet to find the net.

However, while both sides were focused on playing up high, chipping away at every gap in the other’s backline, Atlanta did the best job of closing in within the box. Despite being down a man, Atlanta fought off a number of crosses and keeper Brad Guzan put in a solid night’s work of blocking dangerous chances.

Saturday’s 1-0 loss was definitely an improvement over the “Snowpener” result. Coach Adrian Heath told the press after the match, “Overall, I’m absolutely delighted with my players […] and I feel for them tonight because they did not deserve to come out of the game with nothing.”

On why Atlanta succeeded where Minnesota didn’t: “We must have put seven or eight crosses in the box and I didn’t see anybody getting across the front of anybody […] Yeah, they (Atlanta) were a little bit dangerous on the counterattack. That’s what you get when you spend millions and millions of dollars on players.”

Next week, the Loons have a much-needed bye week. After time for recovery and training, we may discover exactly what potential this year’s squad might have.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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A loomery of Loons lost to the Red Bulls on Saturday night

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 24: 3-0 Loss

The key word in the title is not ‘lost’; the key word is ‘loomery’ – a breeding place for loons.

With nearly half of this season’s featured starters out on injury or international duty, the back four in Adrian Heath’s 4-2-3-1 looked quite a bit different. Jerome Thiesson (hip), Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica), Michael Boxall (New Zealand) and Tyrone Mears (calf)  were replaced by Marc Burch, Wyatt Omsberg, Brent Kallman and Carter Manley, respectively. In addition, Collen Warner took the place of Schuller (Finland) beside Ibson in the backfield.

Between the rookies, Omsberg and Manley, and the off-the-bench players, Burch and Kallman playing their first full 90 of 2018, no one expected the backline to be as successful as the missing four have shown over the first three matches of the season. And, in the end, they weren’t. However, up against a team like the New York Red Bulls, they could have done a lot worse than the 3-0 loss this weekend.

Consider this: Last season, Minnesota United lost their first meeting with the Red Bulls by three goals to none. (Two of those goals were scored by Bradley Wright-Phillips and Alex Muyl, who both made the scoresheet this weekend.) The Loons were considered fully staffed, with newcomers Boxall and Nicholson joining Kallman, Thiesson, Calvo, Ibarra, and Molino.

Fans were understandably upset that this weekend’s rematch resulted in an identical scoreline. However:

  • Despite repeatedly losing one-on-one matchups in the box, Kallman was a vocal leader on the backline, supporting and uplifting the rookies for the full 90, pushing everyone to regroup after their defensive mistakes.
  • Sure, United keeper Matt Lampson conceded three goals, but he also made a handful of key saves against a patented Wright-Phillips attack which could easily have scored at least two more.
  • While Nicholson and Finlay failed to replicate the magic they made at home last weekend, they never stopped trying. In fact, Finlay sent some beautiful crosses through the box and sent a howler into the crossbar in the final minutes.
  • Yes, Heath pulled Ibarra and Ramirez from the game after they repeatedly failed to find the space behind Connor Lade, Tim Duncan and Kyle Duncan. But it is unfair to expect that Ramirez would notch his first goal of the season against Luis Robles and a backline that has conceded a single goal this season.
  • And then the substitutes: Mason Toye, Abu Danladi (returning from injury) and Frantz Pangop (making his MNUFC debut) came on and were immediately a part of the attack. While their attempts toward goal were ultimately unsuccessful, they joined a team of Loons who were determined to fight together to the final whistle.

These are not the Loons of 2017, disjointed pieces failing to connect and communicate. This is a group determined to grow together, to fight together, to become a team with one shared purpose. From the veterans to the rookies to the new acquisitions, these guys want to work. Sometimes that isn’t good enough. But it isn’t a complete loss either.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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Water dance of Loons snuff out Chicago Fire in opener

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 17: 2-1 Win

On Saturday night, Minnesota United FC put on a show for the sold-out black and blue and green clad crowd at TCF Bank Stadium, their temporary home on the campus of the U of M. Many feared a repeat of the 2017 home opener, when the Loons made their MLS debut in white-out conditions and gave up six goals, much too easily, to expansion rival Atlanta United. This home opener could not have been more different.

With speedy left winger Miguel Ibarra playing the central-mid role in place of Molino, flanked by Nicholson on his left and Finlay on his right, and communicating telepathically with withdrawn striker Christian Ramirez, the Loons were constantly pressing forward. Behind them, Schuller and Ibson were picking pockets left and right, choosing carefully their opportunities to send the ball forward. It was frustrating to watch that effort come to nothing the first half, especially with Chicago Fire’s attack, led by Nemanja Nikolic, outshooting Minnesota with five shots to two.

A last-second miscue or dispossession would dissolve the Loons’ momentum time after time. But still. They dominated. The shuffled lineup was cause for celebration by fans who were confused up to this point by Heath’s use of the bench. The midfield, in particular, a problem spot all last season and in the season opener in San Jose, earned the glory.

Without Ibson’s ridiculous footwork and dribbling, without Nicholson’s driving shoulder on the wing, without Ibarra’s speed and distribution, without Ramirez’s selfless hold-up plays, without Finlay’s crossing ability…

Ibson notched the first goal when he (for some bizarre reason) found himself on the receiving end of a Finlay cross in the 55th minute. Chicago keeper Sanchez got a glove on Ibson’s first shot but tipped it back his direction. Ibson made good on the second chance.

Chicago drew level at the 59th minute when the Loons’ defense seemed to lose their marks allowing Elliot Collier to rebound on a Nikolic shot and score in his league debut. The draw lit a fire under Minnesota, who all poured forward. Just seven minutes later, Finlay took off down the right wing and crossed the ball into the box meeting Nicholson, who snuck past a Fire line focused on the right wing. The midfielder pounced and launched a header past Sanchez who barely turned his head as the ball whistled past him.

Both sides had chances over the final minutes, but Minnesota’s defense held true and the squad continued pressing forward, refusing to ‘park the bus’, as they say. Instead, they said maybe.

The entire stadium seemed to hold a collective breath through stoppage time. Finally, the whistle sounded and 23,138 people (less the 200 Section 8 fans who traveled from Chicago) belted out Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ with their scarves held high.

Featured image courtesy: Bridget McDowell

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A cry of loons bests the pride of lions

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 10: 1-2 Win

Despite an identical lineup, the cry of Loons who appeared in Orlando Saturday was a different animal from last weekend. And this group announced their presence loud and clear.

I choose the collective noun ‘cry’ here over a handful of others for Minnesota’s state bird because the performance of this squad – their grit, heart, and perseverance – against Orlando City SC put a hopeful and enlightened tone on the season, much like the cry of our beloved loon does on a summer day.

Head coach Adrian Heath faced his former club with the same 4-2-3-1 he tried against San Jose Earthquakes last week, but with Christian Ramirez at forward in lieu of Danladi.

Center back Francisco Calvo anchored a backline that communicated well from the first whistle, closing gaps effectively and holding down the box. Ibson, who was not even a shadow of himself in the asylum against San Jose, pressed forward with each possession, pecking away at weaknesses in the Lions’ midfield, but did not take any unnecessary risks.

Mid Sam Nicholson worked the wide open left wing in his best showing to date, creating some hopeful chances of his own. And Kevin Molino was aggressive against his former club, assisting Ethan Finlay on a beautiful 12th-minute goal which spurred an even greater hunger to move forward.

But in the latter part of the first half, despite leading a depleted Lions squad, play went stale. It would pick up a bit after Orlando forward Stefano Pinho (a veteran of the NASL-era Loons) was stretchered off and the countdown to halftime began, only to devolve when an Orlando free kick was rescinded and replaced by a PK, thanks (or no thanks) to VAR, allowing Yoshimar Yotun to level the game for the Lions.

The second half began similarly, with play wallowing like a raft in waves. Molino had to be replaced by Collen Warner after a non-contact left knee injury. Also, Nicholson’s hamstring, a minor issue through the first half, finally saw him replaced by Miguel Ibarra. Ramirez was also pulled in favor of the fresh legs of rookie draft pick Mason Toye.

Toye and Ibarra were immediate factors, laying on the pressure up front and finding wide open shooting lanes. Their efforts were rewarded in the 79th minute when Ibarra received the ball from Toye and fired a cross toward the near post. It was met by a well-timed boot from Finlay for a stunning brace. From there, the Loons went into overdrive with a dopping of defense, dispossessing Lions in the box and forcing shots wide.

With Molino and others uncertain, Heath will undoubtedly have to go back to the ‘loonery’ to shore up his squad before the home opener. The club has a lot of improvements to make, but after watching this entire squad gut out the final minutes of this match, it is obvious that these players are determined to do whatever it takes to make 2018 a successful season.

Next up: The loon will cry out over Minneapolis on St Patrick’s Day. Can a water dance tame the Chicago Fire?

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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Minnesota United kicks off the season vs San Jose Earthquakes

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 3, 2018: 3-2 Loss

Had Minnesota United played the first 45 minutes anything like they played the final 20 minutes, the outcome would have been much different, but this one seemed decided before halftime.

While the 4-2-3-1 formation was not a surprise to fans who stuck with the Loons through a disappointing preseason, a few of the starting players in that formation were puzzling. Abu Danladi got the start at forward and Michael Boxall at center back while Christian Ramirez and Brent Kallman sat on the bench.

San Jose Earthquakes had a great chance early when Wondolowski and Hoesen broke through Minnesota’s backline in the 17th minute to flick the ball back and forth within the box. It was an easy save for keeper Matt Lampson, acquired by Minnesota from Chicago Fire in a SuperDraft trade. Minnesota claimed possession for a chance of their own when Ibson saw Ethan Finlay make a beautiful run toward the goal in the 20th minute only to slip within reach of San Jose’s Tarbell.

The game then slipped from reach.

San Jose’s Danny Hoesen was left open in front of Lampson and connected easily with a Wondalowski serve-in to put the Earthquakes up by one at 26′. Just a minute later, Vako was left unmarked and slotted the ball easily out of reach of Lampson toward the far post to go up 2-0.

Ramirez went in for an injured Danladi, got a few runs toward goal, but the Loons midfield just could not create plays. Rasmus Schuller spent more time racing back to collect wayward balls from Ibson than he did pushing forward as intended by this formation. Ramirez nearly left the game himself after a non-contact ankle roll but found his way back in time for a couple of free kicks just before the whistle.

The second half began much the same. A wayward shot (but a SHOT) by Ibson, a couple good looks for Ramirez, a goal… for Danny Hoesen.

With the Earthquakes up 3-0 one hour into the match, Kevin Molino, the Loons’ makeshift No. 10, found a few open lanes, but it took two pairs of fresh legs (Miguel Ibarra coming in for Ethan Finlay on the right side, Collen Warner for Ibson in midfield) before those lanes produced anything.

A cross from Jerome Thiesson in the 82nd minute found Ramirez at the edge of the box. Ramirez tapped it to Molino who drove it in for the first Minnesota goal of 2018. Just three minutes later, Molino found another gap and another easy finish to come within one.

With San Jose switching focus to defense and parking everybody in the box, Minnesota poured on the shots, most of which were easily blocked. Even Lampson came forward to assist with headers in the box, but there were simply too many bodies there.

The final urgency showed that the potential is there, but taking every decent shot in the final ten minutes is worthless without a focused midfield directing the ball forward from the first whistle. And that midfield is worthless without a defense that can’t close in on simple passes in the eighteen.

Minnesota fans, breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t worse. But it has to get better, much better, to avoid a repeat of last season.

Featured image courtesy: 

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The promise and panic of preseason for MNUFC

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

On February 13, Cameroonian international Frantz Pangop donned full Minnesota United FC kit for the first time and took part in the Loons’ production day. On the same day, the identity of his long-awaited countryman was revealed.

Bertrand Owundi Eko’o, a 24-year-old defender, joins United from Rainbow FC. Unlike with Pangop, I did not learn much about Owundi from the little footage I could find of him online. But Rainbow has been a popular talent pool for MLS scouts so I trust we will soon see what talent made him stand out.

While it is unclear how the newest left winger will fit into a roster heavy with left wingers, the intentions of the scouting team are becoming more clear: Potential over payout. Coach Adrian Heath stated for the press release that, “We felt it wasn’t a gamble, but an opportunity to bring in two young pieces for not a lot of financial output that we think have got huge upside.”

MNUFC’s latest signing is 22 year old Brazilian, Luiz Fernando, on a one-year loan from Fluminese FC with a buyout option in 2019. Fernando is expected to grow alongside Ibson and, in fact, shows similarities to his fellow Brazilian in respect to strong challenges and the ability to finesse the ball through tight spaces and out of the defensive third.

Speaking of thirds…

MNUFC went to the Carolina Challenge Cup to test out some new faces in new places. The Loons came home winless, having scored just one goal (earned on a penalty kick) in the preseason competition.

Their opening match against the USL’s Charleston Battery started off well with good possession and some strong challenges. But despite testing a 4-4-2 formation instead of Heath’s usual 4-2-3-1, the squad still managed to leave Abu Danladi isolated up front through the first half with little opportunity to score. The second half featured a fresh eleven, still in a 4-4-2. Ramirez and Pangop each got one decent look at goal, but the match ended in a stale 1-0 loss.

The second match, against expansion rival Atlanta United, looked a bit better, with newcomer Matt Lampson making some huge saves to put him in contention for the starting spot in goal and Kevin Molino hammered home (from the penalty spot) the first goal of the season. But an Ezequial Barco volley beat Lampson to tie the game and, despite some quick runs, the Loons just could not create chances in the final third to pull ahead.

Against Columbus Crew, a couple of errors by keeper Bobby Shuttleworth proved costly and the rest of the squad gave little effort to regain control of the ball after giving it away. Despite 2017’s leading scorer, Christian Ramirez, making his first start of the season, two goals from Columbus went unanswered.

Heath’s post-tournament assessment cited the squad’s failures in the final third. My first thought on the tactical change to a 4-4-2, from Heath’s favored 4-2-3-1, was that it would remedy the team’s 2017 problems in this area. Despite Rasmus Schuller and Jerome Thiesson each playing midfield conductor at times through the tournament, the guys just could not pull it together on the approach to the net.

Sure, it’s preseason. These games meant nothing. Despite two losses and a draw, the stat line remains 0-0-0. Maybe they were conserving their energy for the weeks ahead, the matches that matter.

The Loons’ season opener in San Jose on March 3 matters. And against the San Jose Earthquakes, a team whose tactics are built around the defense, any mistakes by the Loons in the final third will be magnified.

But, again, preseason performances mean nothing. It’s not the time to panic yet. First days are meant to be full of promise.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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An interview with Jeb Brovsky, Generation Footy

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Just days after the American football family threw its annual party for all the world to see, the world’s other football family received a gift of its own. From one of its own.

On February 7, semi-retired MLS footballer Jeb Brovsky launched Generation Footy, a lifestyle brand, blog, podcast and resource for all involved with the World’s Game. Its mission: Influence the Game. Amidst the endless debate over the future of US Soccer, Generation Footy aims to change the tone of our conversation.

“We have so many passionate soccer players, coaches and fans in this country but we are overwhelmed in the sea of bad ideas, useless conversations and complaining about what is WRONG with our system,” Brovsky told me.

“Being an American player who has come up through the youth, high school, college, pro ranks… I want to create a community of passionate game changers who are all committed to the success and growth of the game in this country. For me, this only happens with authentic communication and straightforward, high-level ideas. Generation Footy was founded on the principle that we need to raise our expectations, provide small concrete improvements and engage in honest communication that will benefit the development of the game.”

The six-season MLS veteran, with time in Vancouver, Montreal, New York City and Minnesota (in 2016, the club’s final NASL season and build-up for MLS) is well-respected by teammates, coaches and fans, alike, for his adaptability on the pitch and his warrior mentality through injuries. Brovsky’s playing career was put on hold when MNUFC declined to re-sign him after his recovery from the ACL tear that ended his 2016 season, but he remained in Minnesota and is still active in the local soccer scene.

“Right now I’m enjoying coaching youth, high school and college players of all levels and trying to spread my passion, knowledge, and experience. I believe young girls and boys should be taught the right things from the beginning and be empowered to take control of their own development,” said Brovsky.

Generation Footy provides those growing players with the inspiration and resources to do just that. The site’s content so far includes quotes and insights from players like Christiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, How-To skill breakdowns with video of the masters, light-hearted but truthful pieces like ‘The 10 Commandments of Footy’ and a podcast about dealing with injuries with ACL Club founder Jordan Angeli. But Brovsky is not trying to preach Footy; he is engaging with it and using it to engage with others.

“I want to grow organically and connect with the men/women/boys/girls who are avid learners and who have a DESIRE to grow… Part of engaging with my readers and listeners means I want a two-way conversation and for them to approach me with ideas, passions, insights etc. that they may have. Sometimes this is a complex technical idea and sometimes it could just be an awesome video of someone enjoying the game. Inspiration comes from everywhere.”

Go to GenerationFooty.com to find out how you can Influence the Game. And always remember the Tenth Commandment of Footy: “Thou shalt not be envious of others within the game… Influence the game on your terms!”

Featured image courtesy: @GenerationFooty

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MNUFC kit reveal: Loons In Stripes

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

We Minnesota United FC supporters will sing “Wonderwall” any chance we get. But it isn’t often that we get to sing it in a packed four-story rotunda.

An estimated 1,000 Minnesota faithful and curious onlookers gathered in the Best Buy Rotunda at Mall of America for the reveal of the Loons’ 2018 primary kit. While many of the fans had seen leaked photos of the replica shirt and sneak-peeks released by the club of the authentic jersey’s details, the first glimpse of the entire kit was still an event.

Fresh off the plane from preseason training in Florida, the squad filed on stage to model their new primary kit in its entirety: Grey Henley shirt with a red button, dark grey vertical stripes on the front, the Adidas piping down each side in sky blue, a borderless crest and a small loon silhouette at the bottom. The light grey shorts, with matching piping, set off the dark stripes of the shirt, making it appear much less bland than most fans feared after seeing the leaked images.

This kit will certainly stand out more than last year’s light grey/blue sash kit. I haven’t decided if it’s the dark grey stripes that do the job or the exceptionally bright white bullseye front and center, but it works.

Speaking of bullseyes…

Target, one of the first sponsors to hop on board for MNUFC’s inaugural MLS season in 2017, sent its canine mascot, Bullseye, to model his own dog-friendly jersey (not yet for sale, I checked).

Bridget McDowell - MNUFC/mlsfemale

The event was also an opportunity to get a preseason status check on the squad. Field reporter, and former Loon, Jamie Watson talked with coach Adrian Heath and defensive back Brent Kallman about their Florida trip. Both spoke of progress on the field and off, with chemistry building between the newcomers and veterans. Heath also hinted that the much-talked-about potential deal with Columbian mid Nicolas Benedetti is still on the table despite rumors to the contrary.

There was plenty of promise and positivity to sing about. But, just to be sure, the squad returned to the stage, this time with scarves which they raised high as staff queued up the Oasis hit on the rotunda’s speakers. And we sang…

There’s more to come. The Loons head south again this week to close out their preseason at the Carolina Challenge Cup before opening the season March 3 in San Jose.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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