In continuing the pre-season series that we have started here at www.cosmossoccerfan.com, I will be summarizing the other teams that the Cosmos will be playing in the NASL. I’ll try to bring you specific details about the club, their players, who was added this year, who was lost and other interesting things about their fan base or the club in general. I will leave these posts on my blog and will update them when significant things occur to those clubs. Further when the Cosmos have an upcoming match with those clubs, you can come to these entries to get a sense of who is on that opposing team and who you should be watching.
THE 2013 SEASON
Today we will be taking a look at Minnesota United FC. The Loons finished the 2013 NASL Fall Season in 4th place and are undoubtedly looking to build from last season’s finish. Home games for Minnesota United take place at the National Sports Center in Blaine Minnesota. Loons fans came out last season to the tune of almost 4,000 fans per home match. The capacity of the stadium is listed at 10,000.
PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR IN 2014
Without question Minnesota United’s biggest threat is Brazilian striker Pablo Campos. He came to Minnesota after being with the San Antonio Scorpions during the 2012 season. While at San Antonio, Pablo won both leading scorer in the league honors as well as league MVP. Campos also has prior experience with MLS sides Real Salt lake and the San Jose Earthquakes. In 2013 for United, Campos found the back of the net 13 times in 22 appearances. It was recently announced the Campos will miss the spring 2014 season and part of the fall season as well due to a torn ACL suffered during a Mnnesota United match in the United Kingdom. Clearly this represents a serious blow to their scoring chances this year. In addition to Campos, Aaron Pitchkolan provides a veteran presence in the backfield for United and currently serves as the team captain. Pitchkolan played 5 years in MLS with FC Dallas, before being traded to the San Jose Earthquakes. In 2011 he came to the NASL and played with the Puerto Rico Islanders, followed by a stint with the San Antonio Scorpions in 2012 and finally coming to Minnesota in 2013.
PLAYER ADDITIONS FOR 2014
Minnesota was very busy during the off season as they looked to bolster their club in preparation for 2014. Their biggest signing was undoubtedly 27 year old veteran midfielder Jaime Watson from Orlando City FC (USL Pro Club). Watson comes over to the team following a three year stint with Orlando where he scored 23 goals in 60 appearances for Orlando. Watson also comes with MLS experience as he played with Real Salt Lake (2005-2007) and FC Dallas (2008). When Jamie Watson was 17, he played along side Freddie Adu on the US U-17 team. Watson is looking to make an impact along with yet another signing for Minnesota, young Colombian stiker, 22 year old Christian Ramirez. Ramirez comes to United after playing a season at USL Pro side Charlotte Eagles where he netted 8 goals in 23 appearances. Minnesota is high on Ramirez who will be featured up front with Pablo Campos as one Minnesota’s scoring threats.
With a couple of scoring options added for Minnesota, they also looked to tighten up their midfield. This time Minnesota would look overseas to Brazil and sign veteran Juliano Vicentini from the Brazilian side Sao Paulo Audax Sports Club. Vicentini is touted as a dynamic midfielder and has played professionally throughout Brazil and Italy. At 32 years old, he will bring lots of experience to Minnesota United. Vicentini was not the only Brazilian that Minnesota United would sign. Tiago Calvano was also signed by the team in February adding yet another Brazilian player that has played at top leagues in Brazil. Tiago as he is called, is a defender who spent last year with Sydney FC in Australia. Early in his career he played for Botafogo Club in Brazil’s Top Flight and he also spent time playing for BSC Young Boys who are in the top flight in Switzerland. Clearly signing a veteran with this much International Top Flight experience is a plus for Minnesota United. Finally, Minnesota would add another international player to their roster when they signed Mozesh “Mozzi” Gyorio. Mozzi is 24 years old and from Serbia. He played last season in England’s League Two when he was a midfielder for Fleetwood Town. With a plethora of international talent, Minnesota is hellbent on improving their finish in the standings this season.
DEPARTURE OF PLAYERS
Minnesota lost two key players for the 2014 season when they lost Conor Tobin and Lucas Rodriguez. Tobin, a defender, was a fan favorite for Minnesota UNited and played for them for two seasons. He signed with the Carolina Railhawks for the 2014 season. Lucas Rodriguez moved on to play for the Missouri Comets of the MISL.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON MINNESOTA UNITED
Much like the Cosmos did, Minnesota United recently conducted part of their pre-season training overseas only difference is Minnesota went to the United Kingdom and not Dubai. During their 10 day stay there, the team stayed and trained at St. George Park, which is the home field for the national team of England. They played two friendly matches while in the UK – one of them against Derby County of the Skybet League where they lost 2-0. They also played against Matlock Town FC of the NPL Premier Division which they would win by a score of 3-0. Christian Ramirez, Nate Polak and Cristiano Dias scored for Minnesota.
Minnesota United are supported by the Dark Clouds supporters group and serve as an umbrella group for other smaller supporters groups. The Dark Clouds pride themselves in writing their own chant songs and tend not to recycle other songs. Their creativity has been shown by their tifos which include four 20 foot puppets that are propped up by the group.
The Dark Clouds as well a the supporters of FC Edmonton carry out a rivalry between the two groups called the Flyover Cup. The Flyover cup was born out of goodwill. In 2011 fires, destroyed a large area of Alberta Canada, and a group of Minnesota United fans helped raise money for aid to Alberta. A week later, Minneapolis, Minnesota was ravaged by tornadoes. Edmonton supporters returned the favor by donating money for recovery efforts. The Flyover cup was then started by the two groups of supporters and is essentially a cup for bragging rights between the 2 teams. It called the “Flyover Cup” because with little tourist attractions in both cities, people tend to “flyover” these cities on their way to other cities.
Much of the information above on the Minnesota United soccer club would not have been made possible if it wasn’t Mr Wes Burdine, who is host of the du Nord Football Show – a podcast that has been around since 2005. Many thanks to you sir!
The Cosmos will host Minnesota United on Monday, May 12th at 7:30pm as well as Saturday, August 23rd at 7:00pm. Minnesota will return the favor on Saturday, October 18th at 7:00pm
HAVE SOMETHING ELSE THAT YOU WANT TO SEE REGARDING THE COSMOS OPPONENTS IN 2014? LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW!