Runner-up: Buzz Lagos
Since he arrived in Minnesota in 2014, Christian Ramirez has been scoring goals — and beautiful goals at that. The California boy showed up on the Loons’ doorstep as one of Pablo Campos’ understudies and an unfortunate injury to Campos led to Ramirez getting his shot. Since then, Ramirez has regularly wowed fans and—if this poll is any sort of guide—they have responded with affection. Ramirez took 17% of the vote. But the votes weren’t all so focused on the present as Buzz Lagos and Tony Sanneh earned 13% and 11% of the vote, respectively.
Runner-up: Francisco Calvo
This will come as no surprise. If “Superman” is an icon, then he is also the current favorite (getting 33% of the votes). But maybe a word for the runner-up then? Calvo as the second favorite (11%) is a very interesting result. The club captain has been somewhat quiet and, compared to the social media and gif-loving Ramirez, he keeps a relatively low profile on twitter.
Calvo’s popularity may be due in part to his trajectory. He is a young international, playing for his native Costa Rica, and looks to be a shooting star who we may only see for another year or two. And fans are definitely enjoying him while they have him.
Sporting Kansas City
Runner-up: Atlanta United FC
The jump to MLS means a new landscape for rivalries. Minnesota fans aren’t used to playing teams within a 10 hour drive and now we can hop down I-35 to play in Kansas. Unlike most of our MLS foes, however, Sporting Kansas City are somewhat familiar opponents from the Open Cup. Brian Kallman also once punched Roger Espinoza, so there’s that, too.
While the Dark Clouds and Sporting’s Cauldron have gotten along over the years, that apparently does not prevent 30% of our readers from hating the Sporks. Dom Dwyer, an erstwhile Spork, earned his own 1% of the vote, FYI.
Atlanta United is a curious result, garnering 21% of the vote. One suspects that this rivalry may not live too much longer, but there is a palpable dislike in Minnesota for the rich kids whose au pairs helped them invent soccer.
Bonus shout-out to the 1.2% of you who voted for Vadim Demidov. You’re the real heros.
Pre- and Post-Game: Surly Brewing
Pre-Game Runner-up: Nomad World Pub
Post-Game Runner-Up: Home
In this post-National Sports Center tailgating world, new rituals have been forged. Chief among them has been the festival-like gathering at Surly where 30% of readers like to go. There is usually music and always a joyful marching band saunter down the road toward TCF Bank Stadium.
The Nomad, which has long been a Dark Clouds gathering spot, also featured heavily in the voting, getting 8% of the vote.
That homes or couches were the number two vote-getter for post-games tells us that our readers need to learn to pace themselves or that there hasn’t been enough to celebrate this season. Or, that our readers are boring.
Nomad World Pub
Runner-up: Town Hall Brewery
This year, the Dark Clouds watch parties have become a moveable feast, departing from the strict days of watching at the Nomad. But if the official watch parties have moved, a fondness still remains for one of the only bars where fans could feel free to go crazy as they watch the Loons on TV.
Town Hall Brewery has also been making a real pitch for attracting soccer fans. Right off the light rail, the Seven Corners brewery also shows all the US Men’s Soccer matches.
Runner-Up: Minnesota Thunder
Those iconic blue and orange jerseys, the curly-haired goofball on the crest, Ace Ntsoelengoe racing up the pitch, coolers of beer: god, those were the days. For many of our readers the Minnesota Kicks occupy a particularly fond period for soccer in the state. The Kicks were a wondrously successful franchise and that success laid the foundation for the long history of professional soccer that would come again later.
The Minnesota Thunder, like the Kicks before them, died far too quickly. But this team started the growing soccer supporters who helped sustain soccer through name changes, no ownership, and stadium moves.
Favorite Non-Minnesotan Soccer Writer
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) September 18, 2017
Runner-up: Grant Wahl
Maybe it’s the fact that when everyone thought Minnesota United FC would be terrible, Matt Doyle said they wouldn’t be. Maybe that’s why Minnesotan fans love him—though, he was obviously wrong. Or, maybe it is the fact that in an online landscape of listicles, trumped up RIVALRY WEEKS(TM)!, and hot takes, Doyle offers genuinely thoughtful analysis. That kind of writing is difficult to do and Doyle regularly does it.
Unlike Matt Doyle, Grant Wahl famously did not believe in Minnesota United FC. Despite this faithlessness and scorn, however, Minnesotans seemed to have enjoyed the way he felt a part of the joke as they ribbed him for his prediction that the club would not get more than five wins.
It may have started in 2014. Minnesota United traveled down to Kansas for a US Open Cup matchup and were cut down to ten men as Cristiano Dias was called for a red card. The small child that Dias brutally attacked was a man named Dom Dwyer, who made a miraculous recovery and was able to play the rest of the match. Since then, Dwyer’s operatic diving has earned him the ire of Minnesota fans.
This award honors another US Open Cup foe, Jamie Watson, who very early in his career dove around against the Minnesota Thunder. The Dark Clouds, then, started chanting “You dive like Jamie Watson,” to every opponent who dared imitate the master of the Jacques Cousteau arts. Watson would eventually come to Minnesota and dive for the Stars and then Loons, so it is fitting that the runner-up for the diving-appreciation award is also a Loon: Ibson.
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