Activity remains at a slow simmer as North Conference teams wait for 2018 to begin preparations for the next NPSL season, and Duluth FC and Dakota Fusion look toward January for word on their U.S. Open Cup status.
An errant-placed pin in a United Premier Soccer League graphic briefly piqued interest, suggesting a rival league might be moving into Minnesota to compete with the NPSL. However, FiftyFive.One’s sources suggested whomever made the graphic had a difficult time differentiating Rochester, Minn. from Iowa.
Minneapolis City’s contract with inaugural kit provider Impact Prowear will not be renewed, and the Crows have gone elsewhere for production of their 2018 NPSL gear.
The club was in discussions with a number of kit-makers and narrowed its decision down to a shortlist that included larger brands boasting English Premier League clubs among their clients, and smaller brands currently serving other NPSL teams.
Ultimately, City chose one of the smallest brands on that list.
Business director Sarah Schreier was tasked with helping MCSC expand the breadth of its search, and came across Stimulus Athletic in her club’s own backyard. A recommendation from former Crows head coach Keith Kiecker pushed Stimulus into serious consideration. Stimulus’ degree of customization offered, as well as its order-and-delivery timelines sealed the deal.
Being based in Minneapolis didn’t hurt, either.
“They are local, which matters as part of our values. We want to support local businesses whenever and however we can,” said MCSC chairman Dan Hoedeman. “It also improves our ability to troubleshoot should an issue come up.”
The man behind Stimulus Athletic is a name that may be familiar to many Loons fans. Geison Moura made 28 league appearances across three different stints with Minnesota United — and its precursor NSC Minnesota Stars — between 2010-2015.
The journeyman forward began his professional career in his native Brazil, then made stops in Newark (N.J.), Rockford (Ill.), Independence (Kan.), Blaine (Minn.), and Hougang (Singapore) before last playing for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2016.
Now 31, the former professional forward has started an athletic apparel company that pledges 11 percent of its profits towards “purchas[ing] sports equipment for kids and clubs in underprivileged areas around the world as well as supporting nonprofit organizations who share [its] vision.”
Moura was quoted in an MCSC press release, stating, “Minneapolis City is a great club, a fun brand, and has very passionate fans. This partnership will give our product great visibility, and I am excited to show their players and supporters what we can create for them.”
As for the Crows’ 2018 apparel, Moura and Stimulus will have to wait for at least a month before starting production, as MCSC is currently narrowing down submissions from designers.
“The plan is that we have three options for the home and three for the away kit that our members will be able to vote on in early November,” Hoedeman said, adding, “Yes — pink will [again] feature in our aways!”
The club plans to host a kit-release party on Dec. 14, with players modeling the new uniforms and jerseys available for sale.
When pressed if City’s affiliation with Moura might stray onto the playing field, Hoedeman offered, “We never stop recruiting, but as far as Open Cup goes the rosters are frozen until May. So we have more than enough time to wear Geison down.”
Rochester, Minn.’s Med City made an impressive NPSL debut in the club’s inaugural season. The Mayhem lead the North Conference in attendance and sat atop the conference table for much of the summer before a late-season swoon left the Mayhem two points back of a playoff berth.
Luke Corey was a big part of that success. A registered dietitian, Corey was working for EXOS — a health, wellness, and fitness company that focuses on proactive health for athletes, the military, and businesses — in Rochester when he signed on to be Med City’s first head coach.
Corey was responsible for both recruiting and evaluating talent, which isn’t particularly unusual for a head coach, but significant given Med City’s approach to building a roster.
In comparison to Minneapolis City, which prefers to build its roster using Twin Cities residents, its conference rival in Rochester bolstered its team by recruiting players from out of state and connected those players with host families for the summer.
“[Luke] did a great job assembling strong players from the area, along with players from across the country and around the world, and shaping them into a cohesive unit that worked hard and played good soccer,” reflected Med City president Frank Spaeth.
Drawing on professional experience in helping athletes with their physical preparation, and in combination with a partnership between his club and the sports medicine arm of the Mayo Clinic, Corey’s contributions to Med City extended beyond player recruitment and X’s and O’s.
“Luke Corey was involved in every aspect of the team in its first season,” Spaeth said.
An opportunity to transfer to Los Angeles, where EXOS had entered into a partnership with UCLA Health, lured Corey away from the Midwest earlier this fall.
“Making the decision to step away from Med City FC to pursue a career opportunity in L.A. was not an easy one,” noted Corey. “However, the opportunity to work with an organization such as UCLA Health and impact the lives of some of the best athletes in the country is something I couldn’t turn down.”
Corey was originally picked from a shortlist of head-coach candidates compiled by Spaeth last January, and the club intends to revisit that list in pursuit of his replacement, in addition to considering candidates it had not previously. Thanks to Med City’s impressive debut season, the club has also received inquiries from interested coaches.
Spaeth is not rushing the selection process, and wants to make sure, like Corey, Med City’s next head coach understands the club’s philosophy in addition to its on-field goals.
“To help build a club that was a model of success in the NPSL North in only our first season is one of the greatest accomplishments in my life,” said Corey. “From the fan support to the support from our sponsors, there is a solid foundation in place that will enable the club to thrive for years to come.”
Looking back while looking forward, Spaeth said, “Over the past year I’ve gotten to know and respect Luke not just as a coach, but as a friend as well. He embraced the club’s ambitions and made them his own.”
Med City may announce its next head coach in early November, but Spaeth is comfortable taking until December to ensure the right candidate is chosen.
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