That most recent time Jackson Yueill was in Minnesota, he was just another college student home for winter break.
Then the San Jose Earthquakes drafted him No. 6 overall in January's MLS SuperDraft, and Saturday the Bloomington native was back in his home state for the first time as a professional athlete.
"I said to a few other people at the beginning of the year that this is the game that I was looking forward to the most," the midfielder said. "I love Minnesota and all the athletics here and being able to play professionally the sport that I love in my hometown with my friends and family watching is surreal to me."
The rookie had yet to play for San Jose entering the match with Minnesota United FC, but Yueill was one of the top players in Minnesota after his youth career at Bloomington Jefferson and the Minnesota Thunder Academy. He then went on to play two seasons at UCLA with forward Abu Danladi, United's No. 1 draft pick.
Yueill isn't the only San Jose player with a connection to the state. Midfielder Tommy Thompson's dad, Gregg, grew up in Stillwater and played for the Minnesota Strikers in the 1980s. United also drafted Tommy Thompson's brother, Tanner, in the fourth round but did not sign him.
Loons color commentator Kyndra de St. Aubin is also related to the Thompsons; her husband is Tommy Thompson's cousin. She said about 40 family members attended the match.
Lagos learns from his past
Manny Lagos played at San Jose in the early 2000s, winning MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003. Lagos said he is using that experience as United's sporting director.
"The coolest thing about 2001 was it really was the reinvigoration of that club," Lagos said.
"They were kind of the laughingstock of the league the year before, and I think [then-coach Frank Yallop] kind of built a team of a lot of guys like me that, for different reasons, wanted to be in San Jose to do well and be a part of that project.
"In some ways, I kind of look at some similarities to what we're going to try to do here that they did there for those couple of years, mixing older and young players."