United 1, Chicago 0: Miguel Ibarra scored the game's only goal, as United beat Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire 1-0 on Friday morning. The win wraps up the team's preseason slate, which saw them beat the Chicago Fire, Bridges FC, and Creighton University, while dropping matches to Missouri-Kansas City and Sporting KC.
As for the Chicago win, don't think for a minute that it doesn't mean something for these guys to beat an MLS side. Even in preseason. Even in an exhibition. Chicago didn't put out a half-strength side - eight of their starting eleven were in the team the previous Sunday, when the Fire lost 4-1 to Chivas. Those guys - especially the ones who are trying to make the MLS leap - want very badly to show off in a game like this.
The win is an also excellent boost for a Minnesota team that knows it needs to get early momentum for the season. A championship and a title-match loss have covered it up a bit, but Minnesota's coming off two straight seasons of finishing sixth in an eight-team league. The new NASL format, with one spring champion and another fall champion, mean that the days of backing into the playoffs are over, and clearly that's been a theme of the preseason. Every player I've talked to has spoken about the league format and how it necessitates a fast start in April.
Come on and take one: United will announce today that they've worked out a deal with Metro Transit for free bus and train rides to all five Metrodome games. For more, click here.
Blessed are the jersey-makers: United assistant coach / defender / everything else Kevin Friedland tweeted a couple of pictures of a jersey press, along with the message, "Over 300 presses and a whole lot more to go." The team won't have its super-cool new-logo jerseys until the fall season, but for those who can't wait, it sounds like there will be team gear ready to go for the spring.
No fan too young: Saturday, Etienne Barbara and Miguel Ibarra were at Mercado Central on Lake Street, engaging in some team promotion at its most basic - shaking hands and, apparently, kissing babies. (Gotta hook these fans young.)