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Minnesota United FC Announces Reserve Team

Minnesota United FC today announced the club has a new reserve team joining the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in 2014. The club will be named Minnesota United Reserves and will play at East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota.

“We want to continue to grow the vision of what the club can be,” said United Head Coach Manny Lagos. “Having a Reserve team is a big piece of developing potential local players but also keep the first team competitive. When you have something like this it can grow into a lot of different areas but it’s really about building this club the right way so we can be strong and have a great culture for the future.”

The NPSL is the successor to the Men’s Premier Soccer League (MPSL), which was formed in 2002. Since 2005 the league has expanded nationally, adding the Midwest region, Northeastern region and Southeastern region. The league is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the governing body of soccer in the United States, and operates in the 4th Division. The Minnesota United Reserves will play in the Central Conference of the Midwest Region.

“We’re excited to add Minnesota United to the NPSL’s Central Conference of the Midwest Region,” said NPSL Commissioner Michael Hitchcock. “Under new ownership, Minnesota United have taken major steps to establishing their brand and growing the game, on and off the field. We’re honored that Minnesota United has selected NPSL as the league for their Reserve team to play which is an important part of their business model to develop players for the NASL team.”

Games will run from May until August and the team will consist of amateur and professional players. Ticket information and 2014 schedule have not been released. East Ridge High School is on the same campus as the newly renovated Bielenberg Sports Center, which will become the official training facility of Minnesota United FC when the complex opens next spring. All team information will be available online at

Minnesota United FC is now accepting $50 deposits for 2014 season tickets. On October 5 the club announced it is dropping prices in over half the stadium. The plan includes a new seating map of the National Sports Center in Blaine and season ticket holder benefits. For more information, fans can visit


Atlanta Silverbacks Return to the NPSL

The Atlanta Silverbacks organization took another step in furthering its player development side, announcing Thursday that they will field a reserve team in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in 2014.

The Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves, who will play their home games in the stadium at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, will open NPSL play in May. The Reserves competed in the NPSL from 2011-2012, sending a number of their players to the Silverbacks professional side, which plays in the North American Soccer League (NASL).

“We’re very excited to announce the Reserves’ return to the NPSL in 2014,” said Silverbacks President & GM Andy Smith. “Based on the success we have had developing players in the past, we feel like the Reserves are an extremely important element to our organization.”

Five former members of the Reserves have eventually signed with the Silverbacks professional team: goalkeeper Eric Ati, defender Chris Klute, midfielder Borfor Carr, and forwards Jahbari Willis and Junior Sandoval. Ati, Carr, and Willis are still with the club, while Klute has since moved on to Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids and Sandoval to CD Marathón in the Honduran first division.

“The Atlanta Silverbacks, finalists in this year’s NASL Soccer Bowl, are known as one of the top player development clubs in the NASL, and they have an impressive track record of players successfully moving to Major League Soccer,” said NPSL Commissioner Michael Hitchcock. “We’re excited to welcome back the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves, who will use the NPSL as an important part of their player development model.”

The Reserves’ ownership group of Boris Jerkunica, John Latham, Henry Hardin III, John Hardin, and Chris Goeckel has appointed Ricardo Montoya as head coach of the Reserves. The Costa Rican served in the same capacity during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, most recently leading the team to a second-place finish in the NPSL Southeast Conference.

“I want to thank Silverbacks Chairman Boris Jerkunica, Technical Director Eric Wynalda and the rest of the club’s management for showing their confidence in me as a coach,” said Montoya. “The Reserves are very important to the organization, and I can’t wait to start scouting, recruiting, and competing in an environment that I’m very familiar with.”

While Montoya will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the team, the technical staff and management from the Silverbacks professional team will be directly involved in running the team. The Reserves will be used as a key vehicle for player development, and will allow the professional team to have a pool of players to select from should an injury or performance issue arise during the NASL season.

Along with Montoya, the Silverbacks professional staff will begin scouting for the 2014 Reserves immediately, and will also use the club’s tryouts as a way to identify players. Tryout dates will be announced within the next week.

Senna the Difference for Cosmos in Final

Photo Credit: Joe Foughty/

You couldn’t have written a better ending than a Marcos Senna golazo in the 50th minute as the New York Cosmos defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0 in the 2013 NASL Soccer Bowl.

It was certainly fitting, considering the Cosmos tradition of employing international superstars.  No, Senna is not Pelé or even Beckenbauer, but it can be argued that the former Spanish international and Villarreal CF legend is the top player in America outside of MLS.

“It’s an exciting day for sure, the New York Cosmos are back,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese. “I’m very proud of the players because they accomplished great things. Tonight, winning a championship and bringing a championship back to New York is a proud moment for us.”

The Silverbacks were a constant threat in the first half, having a strong home crowd to give their side loads of support.  The Cosmos supporters also traveled in number, coming down to Atlanta on several coaches.  The away supporters employed smoke, flares, drums, streamers, and even fireworks to show they cared about their beloved Cosmos, providing them with a clear mental boost.

The first half was physical, at times chippy, but there was nothing on the scoreboard at the half.  The Cosmos had the better 2nd half, starting with the quick goal from Senna that was set up by the continued brilliance of Ayoze.

The crowd never let up even though the home fans had to know going a goal down to the Cosmos was not a good thing.  The Silverbacks continued to battle against a very good New York team.

Overall it was a night of great goalkeeping and one great goal. Atlanta keeper Joe Nasco was simply electric, making one great save after another.  He kept his team in the match until the final whistle.

His counterpart, 2013 NASL Golden Glove winner Kyle Reynish, got the job done when called upon, but he was far less active thanks to a staunch defense led by former Crew and Red Bull defender Carlos Mendes.

“We didn’t really know each other, and then coming together and winning a championship, that’s what it’s all about,” said Mendes. “For us, this is what you play for. Hopefully we’ll write a new future now and continue to win championships.”

The game proved to be a showcase for the league as a whole and was truly a marketing dream come true.  The league office had to be drooling over having a Cosmos team in the final and the match did set a new attendance record for the NASL Soccer Bowl since the NASL returned in 2011.  Keep in mind the Cosmos could very well be even more dominant next season when they actually play a full season.

Photo Credit: Joe Foughty/

The storyline was great for writers and fans alike.  One of the world’s most renowned brands taking on the Atlanta Silverbacks, a team full of interesting back stories.  Silverbacks Technical Director Eric Wynalda often talked of players discovered parking cars at a hotel, driving limousines, or playing shoeless at a local park.  Simply put, the Silverbacks had a mountain to climb, playing the giant role of the underdog.

Yes, many talked about a David and Goliath theme for the game, but that tends to be overplayed and gets old really quick. Especially, when Goliath is a very likeable and friendly character like the players of the Cosmos.

The happiest moment of the match was the raising of the trophy for the Cosmos, a team that almost disappeared from soccer entirely.  One man, former owner Peppe Pinton, kept the team and the dream alive, waiting for a day and a game like this.

“I have accomplished what I set forth to do a quarter century ago, to put the Cosmos back on the playing field,” Pinton concluded. “The only sadness is that Giorgio (Chinaglia) is not here to witness it.”

The legendary Lazio striker would have been very proud to see this indeed.  It was a special game on a special night, an occasion that was so many years in the making.

Match Photos

Former NYAC Star Making Headlines with the Cosmos

Dane Murphy is the consummate professional, a player that has seen it all both here and abroad.  He has a knack for playing with the most prestigious brands, having spent time at the legendary New York Athletic Club before a globetrotting career finally landed him with the New York Cosmos.

His time at NYAC was a defining moment, playing for an organization that has supported and produced Olympic athletes for over a hundred years.  Since 1896, NYAC athletes have accumulated 230 Olympic medals, 119 of which have been gold.

“For me, it was good.  It was special being part of their club,” Murphy remarked. “They taught me to represent the club as a professional. It was a very positive experience.”

Photo Courtesy of the New York Cosmos

He has literally done it all since then, having played in MLS and Germany before returning home to the New York and the NASL. And yes, he did get to play against Manchester United at Old Trafford as part of the Paul Scholes testimonial match.

This weekend’s Soccer Bowl still has to rank among the bigger moments of his career, playing for a resurrected Cosmos team that has so much history and tradition.

“I don’t think I appreciate it enough.  I don’t think you can really do it justice; it’s such a storied franchise. You just have to be a positive professional and go out and win games.  That’s what the team and the fans deserve.”

The Cosmos hope to add some more hardware to their expansive trophy case this weekend with a win against the Atlanta Silverbacks.  Murphy will certainly play a role in a team full of stars.  There is no Pelé, Beckenbauer, Chinaglia, or even Messing, but it is still a team of big names.

Take Marco Senna, the former Spanish international and Villarreal star, who was just announced as a member of the North American Soccer League 2013 Best XI.  Or Carlos Mendes,  a veteran of seven MLS seasons and 2006 Red Bulls Defender of the Year.

It’s still the Cosmos and Murphy is surrounded by greatness.  The former NPSL star has a lot to live up to, whether it be the legends of yesteryear or the team’s current pros. It is a beautiful game, one that is even better with Murphy and the Cosmos.

Getting It Done the Indy Eleven Way

The New York Cosmos have stole the soccer headlines for most of the summer, but Indy Eleven is quietly putting together an organization that will be a force to be reckoned with in the NASL.

Wilt at the press conference announcing the addition of Juergen Sommer (Photo Credit: Indy Eleven)

Owner Ersal Ozdemir started by picking the best of the best to lead the front office and coaching staff.  Former Chicago Fire President Peter Wilt was brought on as General Manager and President, while former Chicago Riot executive and Pitch Invasion founder Tom Dunmore was brought on as Vice-President of Marketing & Operations.  The pair have been embraced by the Indiana soccer community as if they had been there for years.

Director of Soccer Operations & Head Coach Juergen Sommer has been part of that community his whole life and was a welcome local addition to the club. The hiring of Sommer gave Indy Eleven instant credibility; someone of his stature and reputation wouldn’t just go anywhere.

Dunmore promoting the new club at a grassroots soccer event (Photo Credit: Indy Eleven)

The team’s motto “The World’s Game, Indiana’s Team” was carefully thought out and is one that embraces the diversity of the beautiful game. The club even hired Carlos May as the club’s Director of International Markets.  You have to admire such forward-thinking.

What did Indy Eleven do for their big “coming out party” of the summer? Just bring the International Champions Cup’s premier matchup to Indianapolis. That right, Chelsea faced off against Inter Milan in Indianapolis on a temporary sod field that was later donated to a local park.  Some local kids will get to play soccer on literally the same pitch used by Petr Cech, Fernando Torres, and Eden Hazard.

Almost 42,000 fans were on hand to see a strong Chelsea side take down Inter 2-0 in an entertaining and exciting match.  Indy Eleven’s presence was felt everywhere as the match became a showcase for the NASL franchise, a team that already has 5,000 season ticket deposits for 2014.  Indy Eleven hopes to be at 7,000 season ticket holders by November 11th.  My guess is that they will put it off.

The Indy Eleven model is one that has impressed early and often.  It will certainly be the standard bearer for new NASL teams moving forward.