FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Minnesota United FC doesn’t have the monopoly on Minnesotan players: The Loons actually share that with Saturday’s opponent, the New England Revolution.
While United sports two statesmen, defender Brent Kallman of Woodbury and midfielder Ish Jome of Brooklyn Park, the Revolution also has two in goalkeeper Cody Cropper of Maple Grove and forward Teal Bunbury of Prior Lake.
Cropper had expressed interest in playing for United before signing with the Revs ahead of this season.
“Before I came back to the MLS, I obviously said a lot about how I’d like to come back and play for [United],” Cropper said. “At the end of the day, New England owned my rights. I’m very happy to have ended up where I am. But I would love to see [one day become a championship-contending team. I think the fans in Minnesota deserve that.”
Cropper is friends with many of United’s former North American Soccer League players while Bunbury is close with former United player and now-sideline reporter Jamie Watson.
“I know my family’s really excited to be able to go and check those games out [in Minnesota],” Bunbury said. “And in the future, you know if my team’s ever going there to play them, it’ll be a great time.”
The funny thing about all these Minnesotans is that none were actually born in the state. Kallman was born in Nebraska, Jome in Gambia, Cropper in Georgia and Bunbury in Canada. Even the Colorado Rapids’ Eric Miller was born in Florida before growing up in Woodbury. Columbus Crew midfielder Ethan Finlay is the opposite, born in Duluth but raised in Wisconsin.
Back in mid-February, United traded one Rev for another.
The Loons had taken forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen in the expansion draft in December and took the 23-year-old along for preseason. But after about two months as a United player, Hollinger-Janzen went back to his original team in a trade, and United picked up veteran goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Shuttleworth had spent his entire career with the Revolution, since 2009. And the trade, while a little wonky since Shuttleworth also was unprotected in the expansion draft and could have just initially been taken then, proved a good one, since Hollinger-Janzen has seen time off-the-bench with the Revs and Shuttleworth has become United’s starter with injuries to the two other keepers on the roster.
“Obviously, walking into Gillette and walking into the visitors’ locker room [was] something very odd to me and something I’ve obviously never experienced before,” Shuttleworth said. “But that all kind of goes away when the whistle blows.”