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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: Soccer 'evangelist' Buzz Lagos wins one with MLS announcement

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.


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.

Reusse: Price increases at new Vikings stadium gouging Everyday Joes

I’ve been in sports journalism so long that I can’t remember the feeling of zealous fandom. I know it was there in my teens for the football Gophers, the Twins of the early ’60s and the Edgerton Flying Dutchmen.

With another line of work, maybe I would have caught Vikings fever during the seasons of regular Super Bowl appearances, and the willingness to pay exorbitant prices to watch the Purple in the new stadium would be understandable.

First off, I’ve been a part-timer at the Star Tribune for the past several years, and generally have no obligation to produce copy for an event held on a Sunday.

A senior citizen sportswriter could not ask for more. No need on Vikings gameday to park downtown, no need to walk the crowded streets and corridors, no need to fight for quotes that almost never write the column for you.

Instead, I can sit in the den, click between the Vikings and NFL Red Zone on a nice-sized TV and see much more than I would being at the contest.

Longtime Vikings ticketholders have said this: The financial sting for the Taj Ma Zygi isn’t so much the $7,500 (or more) per-seat license required to maintain good locations. It’s the fact individual tickets were going from a previous $150 to $325 or $350, and with the Vikings making clear the right to increase the price of each ticket by 10 percent in all of the next three years.

Many of these people are big hitters, yes, but I’ve been to enough Metrodome games and team hotels to know the Vikings also have an amazing number of Everyday Joes and Joans who buy season tickets as a primary social outing.

One of those fun-seekers forwarded an e-mail with the Vikings offer for tailgating within several blocks of the Taj Ma Zygi. If interested, the “application’’ for a season pass was due by last Friday.

The 10-game passes to tailgate ranged from $535.50 to $690. One vehicle.

I don’t know how you can love the Vikings enough to get gouged like this, folks, but you have my admiration.

Or sympathy.


Sports events where TV is way better than being there:

Golf: Following on the course is hard work and, if there’s a large gallery (think Ryder Cup), you can’t see diddly.

Pro football: At home, you get replays, can flip channels and control noise. In the stadium, you might get puked on.

Indianapolis 500: At the track, you see blurs of color on a snippet of the oval. At home, you see the race.


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