This was the extent of most Minnesotans’ soccer knowledge on Nov. 25, 1975, when it was announced a local group had purchased the Denver Dynamos and were going to bring the North American Soccer League franchise (as the Kicks) to the Twin Cities:
In the next day’s Minneapolis Star, the editors for Ralph Thornton’s report on this news felt the need to insert a paragraph reading, “Soccer is played on a field longer and wider than a football field by two teams of 11 men each who advance the ball by kicking it or propelling it with any part of the body except the arms and hands.’’
Even then, as the high school coach at St. Paul Academy, Buzz Lagos was the area’s No. 1 evangelist for soccer.
On Friday night, I was in the CHS Field press box, writing about the official announcement that Minnesota would be in Major League Soccer in 2017 and said to a media colleague:
“I used to talk to Buzz on rare occasion and act interested just out of sympathy for his soccer passion. And now United is going to build its stadium two miles from where he practiced his SPA teams.’’
There were humorous reminders of past soccer angst when searching “Buzz Lagos/ Reusse’’ in the Star Tribune’s electronic library.
A column published on July 6, 1995 was dripping with so much satire about the delayed start of Major League Soccer that … well, I wasn’t the old softie I am today.
There was also this letter to the editor on July 18, 1999, and signed by Buzz Lagos, Minnesota Thunder coach:
“Have you noticed that our Star Tribune sports columnists (Sid Hartman, Patrick Reusse and Dan Barreiro) have had little to say regarding the Women’s World Cup?
“… In earlier years, they did not hesitate to insult the game of soccer and its participants. Currently the strategy is to ignore soccer, wishing ‘the problem’ to go away.’’
It was a fine letter, and mostly accurate.
Congratulations, Buzz. You won. Now, if you could just get rid of those asinine scarves and the flopping, we’d be 100 percent cool.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Buzz Lagos formed the Minnesota Thunder as an amateur team in 1990. The Thunder turned professional in 1995 and had these gestations:
• United States International Soccer League, pro division [1995-96]. Buzz had a hard time remembering the official name when I asked.
• A-League [1997-2004]. Merger of the USISL’s pro division and American Professional Soccer League.
• First Division, United Soccer Leagues [2005-09]. The Thunder folded in 2009.