Attention soccer world, Minnesota United FC has arrived.
Well, the team has its foot in the door, at least.
The Loons staved off English Premier League team Swansea City 2-0 on Saturday at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, beating the first EPL team to play in the state and against a Minnesota team.
The game didn’t technically mean anything for either team, a preseason training match for the Swans and an NASL break for United — but the home team clearly had more at stake.
“I’ve been in that position, when I’ve been on a team like Minnesota playing against a so-called bigger side,” Swansea coach Garry Monk said. “The motivation is that much higher to do well.”
Monk said he didn’t see much good play from his team and knew United’s enthusiasm and energy level would be enough to grant them a deserved win.
United defender Justin Davis scored first in the eighth minute after capitalizing on a missed clearance. He said the Loons had to raise their level in order to win.
“We knew we were playing a real quality team … one of the best teams in the world,” Davis said. “When you get a 2-nil win, hopefully that makes a little bit of a statement.”
Defender/midfielder Greg Jordan doubled the lead in the 43rd minute after a yellow card to Swansea defender/ midfielder Jazz Richards. Swansea defenders’ Chico Flores and Kyle Bartley also earned yellow cards.
Swans defender Neil Taylor said the bad result wouldn’t affect his team too much.
“Our performance wasn’t quite up to scratch,” he said. “There were mistakes there, which of course do happen in preseason. However, we’ll reflect on it as a blip of a game.”
While the victory did help the Loons prove they are up-and-coming in the sport, the ambience might have been the more important takeaway. The stadium sold out to an announced crowd of 9,064 that even impressed Swansea.
“There was probably a better atmosphere here tonight than there was the other day back in Milwaukee, even though there were 40,000,” Taylor said. “So that tells you everything about the fans tonight and how loud they were. If they’re like that every home game, then that’s great.”
United coach Manny Lagos said the score was secondary to the event.
“The fact that we got the result and that we played so well, I think the state should feel a swelling of pride and also of excitement,” Lagos said. “We’re really, I think, as a club and soccer in this country … going places.”