Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
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Minnesota United FC announced Tuesday a new reserve team joining the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in 2014. The club will be named Minnesota United Reserves and will play at East Ridge High School in Woodbury, near the franchise’s new training center.
The Reserves, United FC coach Manny Lagos said, will allow more games for younger players seeking development and an avenue for injured players to prepare for a return to the big club.
Lagos estimated “four to six” North American Soccer League teams will have “some type of reserve team” next season.
“This is a bigger-picture thing,” Lagos said. “This is really going to help the overall club in terms of trying to become competitive year-in and year-out. We’re really committed to developing players and producing players for pro soccer.”
Since 2005 the NPSL has expanded nationally, adding Midwest, Northeastern and Southeastern regions. The league is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the governing body of soccer in the United States, and operates in the 4th Division. The Minnesota United Reserves will play in the Central Conference of the Midwest Region against teams such as the Milwaukee Bavarians and the Minnesota Twin Stars.
Games will run from May until August and the team will consist of amateur and professional players. Ticket information and 2014 schedule have not been released. East Ridge High School is on the same campus as the newly renovated Bielenberg Sports Center, which will become the official training facility of Minnesota United FC when the complex opens next spring.
“It’s a great step forward that lines up very well with the training facility,” Lagos said.
“We’re excited to add Minnesota United to the NPSL’s Central Conference of the Midwest Region,” NPSL Commissioner Michael Hitchcock said in a press release. “Under new ownership, Minnesota United have taken major steps to establishing their brand and growing the game, on and off the field. We’re honored that Minnesota United has selected NPSL as the league for their Reserve team to play which is an important part of their business model to develop players for the NASL team.”
United sign deal in Blaine
Minnesota United also announced Tuesday a three-year contract to continue to play home matches at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The team played in first five games of the 2013 Spring Season at the Metrodome before finishing the schedule in Blaine.
Lagos said the team will retain the services of forward Pablo Campos, midfielders Kevin Venegas, Aaron Pitchkolan and Miguel Ibarra.
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