MLS Commissioner Don Garber toured Allianz Field in St. Paul on Thursday and predicted that the home of Minnesota United starting in 2019 ''will be iconic for our league and, I think, it will be iconic for our sport."
The stadium, featuring a futuristic look with LED lighting transforming a translucent skin enclosing it, would seem to be in line to host an MLS All-Star Game. MLS has a history of choosing new stadiums to host its annual gala. This season's game is at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home of a MLS franchise that, like Minnesota United, began play last season.
"We undoubtedly will host lots of games here [at Allianz Field] outside of league games, whether those are All-Star Games or whether that is CONCACAF Gold Cup matches or other international matches, U.S. men's and women national team games," Garber said. "Very centrally located. Lots of great things in and around it and perfectly sized and lots of amenities and revenue-generating opportunities."
Garber lauded the Loons for what he called a strong brand despite an understandably challenging on-field start.
"They are doing everything right," he said. "When you are running a league, you have your problem children and then you have those that are the ones that you don't worry about very much. I don't go to sleep at night worrying about Minnesota United."
Garber also responded to comments by Loons captain Francisco Calvo after a recent loss to Atlanta United. Calvo said he was "tired of how Major League Soccer gives a lot of credit to Atlanta or [new franchise] LAFC" and that the Loons deserved more respect.
Said Garber, "You can't control what fans or the media, what the broader sports industry does to evaluate one team's launch vs. another."
• The Loons loaned rookie defender Wyatt Omsberg to Tulsa Roughnecks FC of the United Soccer League.
U loses in tennis
The Gophers women's tennis team lost 4-2 to ninth-seeded Maryland in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament at the Baseline Tennis Center.
Minnesota (14-12), seeded eighth, earned its two team points at No. 5 and 6 singles from junior Caitlyn Merz-bacher and sophomore Cammy Frei, respectively.
Merzbacher defeated Zoe Kulkarni 6-1, 6-0; Frei beat Kate Yemelyanenka 6-2, 6-4.
New MCAC sport
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC), comprised of more than 20 public, two-year community and technical colleges across the states of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, and the USA High School Clay Target League have formed a partnership to offer a new sanctioned varsity sport — clay target — beginning this fall.
Students will compete "virtually" by shooting at their local shooting range and uploading their scores for tracking. The six-week fall season will start in late August.
• The Lynx announced their training camp will open with a 2 p.m. practice Sunday at Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis.
• Senior Matic Spec of the Gophers was named to the All-Big Ten first team in tennis for the fourth time while fellow senior Felix Corwin was a first-time pick. Sophomore Stefan Milicevic made the second team. Fourth-seeded Minnesota will play Indiana at 10 a.m. Friday in the Big Ten tournament in Iowa City.