Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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Wait to attend a soccer game in town was worth it

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: July 19, 2014 - 9:42 PM

The Minnesota Kicks played soccer for six summers (1976-81) at Met Stadium, and offered two seasons (1979-81) of the indoor game at Met Center. I took my lads to an indoor game the first winter and they reacted as if it was punishment for bad behavior.

The Kicks folded after the 1981 season in the outdoor North American Soccer League. And this is something I had forgotten completely: The Fort Lauderdale Strikers moved here and started the 1984 NASL season in the Metrodome, before the league collapsed.

My memory of the Strikers was strictly as an indoor enterprise, for four seasons (1984-88) at Met Center.

I was writing columns for the St. Paul newspapers. There were a few calls from a Strikers public relations person suggesting I take in an indoor game and write a column.

Finally, candor was required. “The Strikers are going to be much better off if I don’t go to a game and thus don’t write anything,” I said. “Trust me on that.”

Pro soccer returned in 1995 with the Minnesota Thunder. It played in various leagues until folding after the 2009 season. The Thunder was replaced by the Minnesota Stars, a charity case for its landlord, the National Sports Center, and then its league, the reborn NASL.

There’s a good chance pro soccer was going down again here, until Bill McGuire bought the franchise from the NASL in November 2012. The purchase led to another new name: Minnesota United Football Club.

There’s a loon drying its feathers on the team logo, and thus the informal nickname for fans: the Loons.

There were reports of an improved roster in an improved stadium with improved amenities playing in front of good crowds in Blaine. I hadn’t been in NSC Stadium since a state track meet years ago, and when I showed up Thursday, it was confirmed that the track was long gone and that there was now a neat soccer yard that can seat 8,000.

The Loons are the best team in their league, you can get margaritas for $5 (I asked), and the fans are young families and what Calvin Griffith would’ve called “a bunch of good-time Charlies.”

Heck, I might be back.

Plus Three from Patrick

Lost treasures of pro sports in Bloomington:

Twin Cities Skippers (1961-62), National Bowling League (Building became Carlton Celebrity Room. Bob Strampe was the star.)

Minnesota Buckskins (1974), World Team Tennis (Played a 44-match schedule; lost in second round of playoffs. Ann Haydon-Jones was best-known player.)

Minnesota Fillies (1978-81), Women’s Professional Basketball League (Disbanded late in league’s third (and last) season. Included Olympian Trish Roberts.)

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