Luke Mulholland’s medal for winning the 2011 North American Soccer League title with the then-NSC Minnesota Stars is where all his sentimental tokens of achievement, like his college degree, are: his garage.
The starting midfielder for Real Salt Lake is one of three members of the 2011 NASL championship team who met on a Minnesota pitch once again Saturday when now-Minnesota United FC took on Salt Lake in Major League Soccer, earning its first victory by winning 4-2. United defender Justin Davis started at left back while Salt Lake’s Matt Van Oekel was on the bench as the backup goalkeeper.
While Davis has been with United since 2011, and Van Oekel played from 2010 to 2014, Mulholland only showed up specifically to help the team win that 2011 title, signing with the team toward the end of the regular season.
“Team-wise it was pretty surreal to come in, just play for, like, nine games and win the championship,” Mulholland said of his short but sweet time in Minnesota.
“And then the following season, I ended up playing for Tampa and winning it with Tampa and playing against Minnesota in the final. So that was weird to play against a team I’d previously won it with.”
It won’t be so weird this time around, considering it has been six years.
But Van Oekel, at least, still harbors at least some fond feelings for United.
“My wife and I still consider Minnesota home, and we always want the franchise to do well,” he said. “But definitely not to do well against us.”
Minnesota United and the Colorado Rapids might have found a loophole when it came to Friday’s transaction between the teams.
While it might have looked like a 2-for-2 trade on the surface, Colorado actually had to waive midfielder Sam Cronin in order for the Loons to pick him up.
That’s because Cronin re-signed with the Rapids in 2016 as a free agent, and per the MLS players’ union collective bargaining agreement, he could not be traded to another MLS team.
‘M’ is here to stay
While the big University of Minnesota “M” at center field and the “Minnesota” written on both ends of the field were covered for the home opener at TCF Bank Stadium, the maroon and gold showed through prominently during the Real Salt Lake match.
That’s because the home opener was a nationally televised match, while Saturday’s was locally broadcast. The field markings will only be covered for those nationally aired matches.