If you were on Twitter on Tuesday, you probably noticed a little hubbub about Minnesota United's USL affiliate. Well, I made a few calls since then, and here's the update:
Essentially, the minutes from a recent Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association meeting got some attention for mentioning the United Soccer League, Minnesota United and Breese Stevens Field in Madison, Wis., all in the same paragraph.
The club has no comment. CEO Chris Wright did speak about a USL affiliate this past Saturday, and you can read his full comments here. Essentially, he said United was exploring partnerships with various upper Midwest cities as sites for the team, but he was thinking 2020 was a more reasonable timeline than 2019, which is when this Madison team would likely start.
Here's what Vern Stenman, president of Big Top Baseball, which operates Breese Stevens Field and is looking to bring the soccer team in, had to say: Big Top Baseball is pursuing a team in the USL spectrum (the minutes said it would be third-tier level), and the organization is probably a month and a half away from finalizing an agreement with the city of Madison to get the stadium up to USL standards.
"That's kind of the first thing that has to happen. I think beyond that, there's all kinds of possibilities," Stenman said. "In theory, there may be something that happens months from now that could involve working with another team. It's really nothing more than a pursuit on our side of a soccer team first, and we have to get that before we can even get into any kind of discussion of any kind of connection with anybody else."
Stenman said Big Top Baseball knows many people at many MLS teams, including United, and has talked to many of them across the country, again including United. But any USL affiliation agreement would be something way in the long term and just speculative at this point. In fact, he said he wasn't even thinking about that right now.
Patty Prime, president of the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association, said Big Top Baseball came to her association to gauge interest in the project. Prime said the general consensus is that soccer in Madison would be "very popular."
"I have to say, they proposed a host of other changes as well, and the soccer team was pretty much 100 percent positive," Prime said. "Everyone was like, 'Yeah, that sounds like a really cool idea.'"
The team announced it had renewed center back Francisco Calvo's contract through 2020 with options to extend through 2022. The team captain has been an integral part to United's core of players, and with him whisking off to the World Cup with Costa Rica this summer, it was probably good for the club to put a ring on it, so to say.
I thought I saw Jerome Thiesson tweak something early in Wednesday' practice, and the club confirmed that by saying he's questionable with a left hip injury for Saturday at the New York Red Bulls. That would mean the defense would be without all four starters because of injury and national team call-ups.
United also announced Wednesday a restructuring of their front office. I'm told this was a way to streamline the process it make it so CEO Chris Wright has fewer direct reports. Here are the changes:
Maureen Smith, formerly the senior vice president of finance, becomes an executive VO and the chief operating officer
Katie Mattis Sarver has joined the club as the senior VP of corporate partnership sales and activation, I believe replacing Mike Slates, who has left the club.
Bryant Pfeiffer, formerly the senior VP of sales and strategy, becomes an exectuive VP and the chief revenue officer
And finally, the 2018 MLS All-Star Game is set for 6:30 p.m. Aug.1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and will be against Italian club Juventus.