New England Soccer Today

Bunbury Excited to See Minnesota Get MLS Team

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Count Teal Bunbury as one of the many who were excited to see MLS grant the state of Minnesota an expansion team on Wednesday.

The Revolution midfielder grew up in Prior Lake, Minn. and starred for the Rochester (Minn.) Thunder in 2009. So when he heard the news that his home state would have a top-flight club in 2018, Bunbury was all smiles.

“It’s a great feeling,” Bunbury said. “I was just very excited and very happy for the state. I feel like it’s been a long time coming. There’s a (great) fan base in Minnesota, and it’s been steadily growing for the past 5-10 years.”

A part of the fan base that Bunbury is alluding to are the supporters of Minnesota United FC, which currently competes in the NASL. The club will be “promoted” to MLS as the league’s 23rd franchise in three years.

But the thousands that the Loons draw to National Sports Center in Blaine on a regular basis are just a sampling of the Minnesotans who love the beautiful game.

“I have a lot of pride in being from there, and growing up there, and I know how important soccer is to the youth there,” Bunbury said. “It’s just a special moment for that state.”

Bunbury can certainly speak to the popularity of the sport at youth level. He played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s High School (Faribult, Minn.) before a suiting up for the Thunder in 2009. Later that year, he won the MAC Hermann Trophy at Akron.

While Bunbury is happy that his home state will have a MLS club of its own, he’s even happier for those who’ve supported the sport in the Gopher State, which hasn’t hosted top-flight soccer since 1984. In fact, the Revolution midfielder believes the player-supporter relationship in Minnesota is “unique.”

“There’s just a special connection and a special bond – it feels very intimate there,” Bunbury said. “The people there just know what it’s like to not have a team in the top league.”

To Bunbury, the news of Minnesota’s entrance in MLS was one that could set in motion even greater things for the future of the sport in the state, despite the concerns about a potential soccer specific stadium being constructed in time for 2018.

“I feel like they have a lot of pride and have been waiting a long time to get that opportunity,” Bunbury said. “So now that this chance is here. I feel like it’s just going to grow exponentially.”

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