This afternoon, yet another new MLS franchise was unveiled: Minnesota United FC. You'd be forgiven for losing track at this point- with the pending additions of LAFC and Atlanta, MLS will now up to a confirmed 23 teams by 2018. David Beckham's inevitable triumph of bringing a Miami franchise to the league, in addition to a couple other teams hoping to make the jump to MLS in the next 5 or so years (San Antonio and Sacramento come to mind), will likely bring the league up to unprecedented numbers and take it that much closer to bridging the gap between MLS and other North American professional sports leagues. But today wasn't about any other club- Minnesota United, welcome to MLS.
The live announcement was hosted by none other than Fox Sports' Rob Stone- an enthusiastic MC who did his best to find a perfect mix of exciting the crowd, sticking to the agenda, and adding in subtle bits of humor. Unsurprisingly, one of the first MLS personalities acknowledged in the audience was MLS's poster boy Landon Donovan, who it seems will admirably continue to act as an ambassador for the league throughout his retirement (or at least the early stages of it).
Before the event's real headliners came on stage, an inspirational video showing clips from Minnesota's soccer history was aired, prompting cheers and audible enthusiasm from the Dark Clouds- Minnesota United's largest supporter group. Before long, Don Garber took the stage, citing MLS's eagerness to have such a "cool, funky, hip city" join the rest of the teams in 2018. Garber also jokingly mentioned to the Dark Clouds his appreciation for their cheers, telling them "the day will come where you will hate me"- quite possibly setting a record for the most honest, transparent, open statement ever issued by MLS to date.
Garber also mentioned that MLS had been working with Minnesota on this agreement for over a year and a half; much of that time was likely spent by MLS executives deliberating over whether to accept United's proposal, or a competing bid from the ownership of the Minnesota Vikings. Alas, twas the NASL club's offer that was accepted in the end, of course proving with absolute certainty that NASL is simply a bigger and better sports league than the NFL (I joke- although ‘better' may very well apply in some aspects).
Joining Garber on-stage for the announcement was Dr. Bill McGuire, the head of the Minnesota United ownership group. The good doctor spoke well about bringing the MLS to Minnesota, and about how humbling the whole situation/event was. McGuire also suggested the idea was born on a cool fall night, while watching United play (and sensing the fans' enthusiasm), when he came to the realization that "we have to do something with this [...] make it more than it is". The only other member of the ownership group to speak was Wendy Carlson Nelson, although Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor (absent) was thanked, and brothers Jim & Robert Pohlad of the Minnesota Twins ownership were also mentioned, and invited to the stage for pictures.
Dr. McGuire added closing remarks, mentioning that this has been a "joint journey" and that while the team has a clear vision for the future, they will also welcome dialogue and input as they prepare to enter the league. The team will be looking to build a brand new facility close to the Minnesota Farmer's Market, however planning seems to very much be in the preliminary stage as no further details were revealed (in the live stream).
The event closed out with a video of mostly MLS players (and United's own NASL 2014 Golden Ball recipient Miguel Ibarra) welcoming Minnesota United to the league. It was kind of nice to see the likes of Bradley Wright-Phillips, Bill Hamid, Diego Valeri, Graham Zusi, and others greet the city and its supporters... and then Teal Bunbury had to show up on screen and ruin the entire montage. Damnit, Teal.