You remember the very famous line from the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: “Who are those guys?” (You can go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIie9OosnEM if you don’t remember it).
Hey, its Throwback Thursday and we are throwing it way back and asking that question of Minnesota United FC. Maybe the question for everyone now that they are 4-0 and headed into a Monday Night Fútbol matchup with the New York Cosmos is: “Who are those Loons?”
Well to answer that we need to go to the roots of professional soccer in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and that brings us to the very early days of the NASL. In 1976, the Denver Dynamos moved to the Twin Cities and became the Minnesota Kicks. The North American Soccer League team drew crowds of up to 45,000. The Kicks made the NASL Playoffs 6 straight years and played in the 1976 Soccer Bowl.
Unfortunately the team folded after the 1981 season with a record of 104 Wins and 70 Losses. Even in its final year the Kicks drew an average of 16,600 per game proving that Minnesotians love their soccer.
In 1984 the Fort Lauderdale Strikers moved up to the Twin Cities and played in the Major Indoor Soccer League for four seasons.
In the 90’s current Loon coach Manny Lagos and several other stars played for the Minnesota club in the USISL and won the league championship in 1999.
Fast Forward to the rebirth of the NASL and the National Sports Center formed a team that began play as NSC Minnesota Stars. In 2011 the Stars make it to the NASL Championship for the first time since 1976 and the Kicks and this time they brought the hardware home to their faithful fans!
Following one more name change (dropping the ‘NSC’) the team truly found its identify when former UnitedHealth Group Chairman and CEO Bill McGuire purchased the team in November of 2012 and the Loons were born with their distinctive colors, crest and attitude.
So when you tune in for the big Monday Night Fútbol match, you’ll know the answer to the question: “Who are those Loons?”