Newly-founded semi-pro soccer club Minneapolis City held its official launch this evening at the Local in downtown Minneapolis. The club’s brass, coaching staff and advisers—as well as a pair of players who signed their commitments—were on hand to greet 80-plus supporters and unveil the club’s crest ahead of City’s inaugural campaign in the Premier League of America.
The event marked the official beginning of an ambitious undertaking for local men’s amateur soccer club Stegman’s Old Boys. One of Stegman’s three co-founders and now Minneapolis City president Dan Hoedeman presided over a short presentation of the club’s vision.
An advertising account manager by trade, Hoedeman’s optimism came across as warm and genuine when speaking about Stegman’s past and City’s future. “Over the past years we’ve added teams, built websites, drank beer—lots of silly things. Wouldn’t it be cool if we were just a little better?”
That definition of better involves a dual focus for City. Its first aim is to provide Minnesota’s high school and college players a place to play high-level soccer each summer, in Minneapolis, while maintaining their amateur eligibility. The second is—through its ties to Stegman’s multiple teams—reducing the cost of playing club soccer for young players who’s families lack the financial means to place them in academies that charge thousands of dollars a year, so those players can develop both on and off the field.
That local focus is reflected in both the club’s choice of name and the design of its badge. Instead of another Minnesota sports franchise, Minneapolis City was chosen as homage to the city that brought the three Stegman’s founders together.
Its badge is intended to mirror the high design of the logos of several of the Twin Cities’ most well-known companies, and also to tie the club to the city itself—with two qualifications. “We did not want a spoon and cherry,” said Hoedeman. “Anyone from Minneapolis that says they like Spoonbridge and Cherry is lying.” Additionally, the club wanted to avoid the overt placement of a soccer ball. So, City settled on a pentagon-shaped badge that resembles a soccer ball in relief and used the font from the sign on the Foshay Tower for its lettering.
A non-profit, City is offering supporters membership options, though that membership cannot carry with it any official ownership. Hoedeman promised that, in addition to season tickets, lifetime or annual dues paying members will always have a voice within the club and will be allowed to vote on certain decisions, though the day-to-day operation of the club will be run by its board. “We spoke to the owner of San Francisco City [also a non-profit] who said we’d be surprised by how many people would like the idea,” Hoedeman explained. “So we stole it form him.”
The club was not ready to announce the stadium where it will play its home games in 2016, but has narrowed negotiations to a pair of suitors. Hoedeman promised the stadium would be in urban Minneapolis, “…no further out than Lake St. and Highway 55.” Both potential stadia were said to have natural grass playing surfaces.
After Hoedeman had finished holding court, head coach Keith Kiecker brought up a pair of future City players, each of whom signed commitments for the 2016 season.
The first was current Como Park High School defender Tyler Johnson, who will likely be used by City as a midfielder. Johnson has trained with Stegman’s top MASL side Internationals for the past few years and is considered by the club to be a developmental player. “I’m very excited, looking forward to playing with some high-quality guys,” said the high school junior. Expected to be one of City’s youngest players, when asked if he felt confident about cracking the team’s starting eleven, Johnson said, “I plan to go into it working hard, doing my best—we’ll see what I can do.”
The second was Blake School senior and goal keeper Duncan Werling, who only recently committed to play at UCLA next season. “It’s a good way for me to prepare for college, and stay in Minneapolis. I’m looking forward to getting on the field with them,” said Werling. Regarding whether City and the PLA were an easy sell to UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo, Werling answered, “They think it’s a really good way for me to prepare. It’s a good way for me to increase the speed of play, as well as the physicality.”
When asked if he planned on recruiting current UCLA midfielder and Bloomington native Jackson Yueill to join him at City, the goal keeper laughed and diplomatically stated he was unsure of Yueill’s plans for the coming summer.
Former Minnesota Kicks defender and Minnesota Strikers manager Alan Merrick was presented as the team’s technical director. “They’ve done everything professionally so far,” noted Merrick. “They have a great concept. It gives players a great opportunity to better themselves and make themselves into more proficient players, so they can play at the next level.” Having run an NPSL club, Merrick was optimistic on City’s future, stating, “The talent that we have in the Twin Cities is extremely high, so they’ll be able to pull players from MIAC teams. I’ve already sent six of my players from the University of Minnesota [club team] to try out and a couple of them will be on the fringe of that player pool.” Merrick enthusiastically added, “This is an opportunity for the Twin Cities’ talent to come out of the woodwork, and to have a home for it—which is why we need it.”
Domonick Fields, a St. Olaf graduate, was recruited by Kiecker after the two crossed paths while working with the Sanneh Foundation. Fields will serve as the club’s speed and agility coach, tasked with running two sessions a week during the season. “My main focus will be footwork,” said Fields. “With that footwork will come conditioning—I’m trying to build a program where our players can go for 90 minutes if need be. Maintaining their conditioning throughout the year, making sure their bodies stay put together throughout the year, that’s really important.”
Bethel head coach Jeremy Iwaszkowiec will serve as the team’s assistant coach—the Peter Taylor to Kiecker’s Brian Clough.
City also announced the involvement of goal keeper coach Adam Pribyl, who previously played for St. John’s and has held coaching positions with Hamline and DeLaSalle High School.
City will begin its 2016 PLA season away to Milwaukee Bavarians on May 21st before returning to Minneapolis to play its first-ever home game against Croatian Eagles of Milwaukee on May 28th.
Minneapolis City 2016 Collegiate Commitments
College: Northwestern (IL)
High School: St. Paul Academy
Hometown: St. Paul
A left-footed attacking player, Forsgren played all 18 matches for the Wildcats in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, earning Big Ten All-Freshman honors in his first collegiate campaign.
College: UCLA (Committed)
High School: The Blake School
An athletic goal keeper who came up through the Minnesota Thunder Academy, Werling is expected to compete for a starting job as a freshman with the Bruins in 2017.
College: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
High School: Shattuck-St. Mary’s
A 6-foot-3 defender currently in his junior year with the Phoenix, Benhart has been named City’s captain for the upcoming season.
Samuel Ruiz Plaza
College: Messiah College (PA)
High School: East Ridge
The creative midfielder appeared in 20 games in his freshman season with the Eagles, who play in Division III.
College: University of Wisconsin-Madison
High School: The Blake School
Hometown: Maple Grove
Coming out of high school, Omar was rated a four-star high prospect by Top Drawer Soccer before committing to Wisconsin-Madison. The defender has yet to make an appearance with the Badgers, but did with three MYSA state tiles during his time with the Minnesota Thunder Academy.
College: Bradley (IL)
High School: Como Park
Hometown: St. Paul
The forward played for Como Park in 2015 when it won its first state title in any sport. Kidd made seven appearances for Bradley University as a freshman last season.