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.
Email Jon to talk about soccer.
As David La Vaque wrote this morning, Premier League side Swansea City will play United on July 19 at the National Sports Center in Blaine. Be sure to read that article; he talks to team president Nick Rogers about the connection between this visit and United's training trip to England, and whether this has any meaning for the future of MLS for the franchise.
A couple of other notes:
*The only two previous exhibitions that are comparable to this game (at least in the modern era - I can't speak for the Kicks / Strikers era) are two from back when Minnesota's pro soccer team was called the Thunder. In late 2007, a David Beckham-led Los Angeles Galaxy played the Thunder in the Metrodome. The following summer, Burnley - then in the English second division, though they will be in the Premier League next year - visited for a similar summertime exhibition at the NSC.
The Galaxy match drew more than 20,000 fans, a number that - given the NSC's capacity of around 7,500 - this Swansea match can't hope to approach. In my opinion, though, despite Beckham's star power, having a Premier League side come to Minnesota is a much, much bigger deal.
The Burnley match in 2008 drew 6,000 or so fans to the NSC; I have no idea what the team announced for attendance, but I was there in the stands. Plus, a good third of those fans were youth teams, in town for the USA Cup soccer tournament.
This match is also during the USA Cup, so I imagine there will be plenty of kids - but I would also be completely shocked if the match didn't sell out.
*It's worth noting that this match does not fall into the NASL's summer break. In fact, United has a game the previous Thursday night, against Carolina at the NSC.
It poses an interesting conundrum for head coach Manny Lagos. I have little doubt that he'll put the league match first, especially if United fails to win the first half of the season and is still in the playoff race. That said, will he want to risk some of his most important players by playing them twice in three days? Will he be willing to play some of his older veterans in that short time frame? Will the players, all of whom get extremely excited for these types of matches, look past Thursday's match in anticipation of Saturday?
*There's no doubt that the most excited person in the metro today is Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse, who announced last month that he is now a hardcore Swansea City fan. Reusse made the decision, having grown sick of the Twins' bullpen management, after careful thought and consultation with radio partner Judd Zulgad, and now his decision is already paying off.
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