New England Soccer Today

Minnesota Connections

Photo credits: (L), (R)

Photo credits: (L), (R)

On Wednesday, Minnesota was granted an MLS expansion team, with current NASL outfit Minnesota United FC expected to be “promoted” to the top-flight in 2018.

“We are proud to welcome Minnesota to Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “The ownership group’s commitment to soccer and the community, the area’s growing millennial population and the region’s rich tradition of supporting soccer at all levels in Minnesota were key indicators that this was the right market.”

With first-division soccer set to return to the gopher state, let’s take a look at some notable New England soccer connections to Minnesota.

*Former Revolution second-round pick Tyler Polak currently plays left back for Minnesota United. He joined the club prior to the start of the 2014, and played in three matches (including one U.S. Open Cup contest) for the Loons.

*Current Revolution winger Teal Bunbury hails from Prior Lake, Minn., and played for the now-defunct Rochester Thunder during the 2009 PDL season. He scored five goals and added two assists in 11 games for the Thunder, and was named to the Central Conference All-Conference Team following the 2009 season.

*Revolution all-time leading scorer Taylor Twellman was born in Minneapolis. His father, Tim, played for the Minnesota Kicks from 1977-81, where he scored five goals in 109 games. The younger Twellman told in December 2014 the following with respect to Minnesota as a soccer market: “I’m asked constantly, if you had to expand Major League Soccer, where would you go? My first answer, for the last five years of my life, is Minneapolis. The knowledge and the enthusiasm of the fan base here is second to none. Soccer is a no-brainer here.”

*The last time selections from New England and Minnesota met in a top flight match was in 1980, when the New England Tea Men grabbed a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Kicks on Jun. 21 at Foxboro Stadium in NASL play. Incidentally, Tim Twellman went the full 90 in that match for the Kicks.

*Other notable encounters in the original incarnation of the NASL: The Boston Minutemen staked a 5-2 win over the Kicks on Jun. 19, 1976 at Sargent Field in New Bedford, Mass. On Jul. 4, 1977, the Kicks grabbed a 3-0 win over the Connecticut Bicentennials at Metropolitan Stadium. The following season, the Tea Men outlasted the Kicks 5-3 at Metropolitan Stadium on Jun. 24, 1978 before an announced crowd of 29,131.

*There are no major rivalries between New England and Minnesota across the pro sports spectrum – at least during the regular season. During spring training, the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins – both of whom call Ft. Myers, Fla. their winter home – vie for the Commissioner’s Cup (ne’ Mayor’s Cup) each year. The clubs play an odd number of Grapefruit League games against each other every year, and the winner of that series wins the Cup.


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