1. The home opener
Despite the 6-1 drubbing on March 12, United’s first home opener wasn’t a match to forget. More than 35,000 fans attended the coldest game in MLS history as snow fell on TCF Bank Stadium throughout the whole 90 minutes.A fitting debut for Minnesota’s newest big-league team.
2. The first victory
Coach Adrian Heath said the April 1 matchup with Real Salt Lake was “probably the most important game in this club’s history.” It turned out be historic: A 4-2 victory at TCF Bank Stadium to capture the team’s first three MLS points. Fans serenaded the team with Oasis’ “Wonderwall” after the final whistle, continuing a tradition built in the team’s North American Soccer League days.
3. NASL standouts
Christian Ramirez scored the Loons’ first MLS goal in the season opener and became the team’s leading scorer. Center back Brent Kallman wore the captain’s armband several times throughout the season. Midfielder Ibson quickly became one of Heath’s most praised players. Winger Miguel Ibarra slowly regained the form for which fans remembered him. Ish Jome learned a new position to slot in as an emergency left back. All holdovers from the team’s second-tier era, they proved their worth on a bigger stage.
4. Off-field moves
The club’s business side made advancements throughout the year, from starting construction on its soccer-specific stadium and naming it Allianz Field to hiring former Lynx and Timberwolves President Chris Wright as CEO. United ended the season with four consecutive lower-bowl sellouts at TCF and six consecutive crowds of more than 20,000, coincidentally the capacity of that new stadium set to open in 2019.
5. Road breakthroughs
It took 10 tries before the Loons grabbed their first away victory, at Chicago on Aug. 26. Two more followed. The stoppage-time 3-2 result at Atlanta on Oct. 3 not only atoned for that home-opening disaster, but it was probably the Loons’ top match in terms of excitement and meaning.