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Minnesota United’s Best of 2016: Top 5 Storylines from This Year

Reheat that casserole and enjoy our favorite articles from E Pluribus Loonum’s debut year.

Swansea City v Minnesota United FC

Here’s the deal, sports fans: we haven’t been around that long. To be precise, E Pluribus Loonum has been around since November 23, 2016. That’s a whopping 37 days. Kim Kardashian was married to Kris Humphires longer than that (72 days), for crying out loud!

In short, being the new kid on the block makes putting together a “best of 2016” list ... complicated. The hilarity of a month-old website singling out five articles from the past four weeks is not lost on me.

Despite that, it’s the end of the year, it’s the offseason, and there is precious little new information to chew on right now. So, in the spirit of celebrating the small victories in life, here are our top five storylines from the early days of E Pluribus Loonum.

1. Stadium Groundbreaking

After a years-long effort to bring Major League Soccer to Minnesota, United were finally granted an MLS expansion team with the expectation that they build a soccer-specific stadium to house the new squad.

After hitting significant roadblocks in Minneapolis, the stadium site relocated to the Midway site in St. Paul, thanks in large part to the diligence and hard work of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

The Loons’ front office gathered with league and city officials on a frigid December 12 day at the stadium site to official break ground. While the actual dirt was already too frozen to be ceremonially shoveled by the group of VIPs, a stand-in box of loose soil was on hand for pictures and the traditional “first scoops.”

While the Loons sights are firmly set on TCF Bank for at least the coming season, it is beyond exciting to know that the not-so-distant future holds a gorgeous, world-class, soccer-specific stadium for our home club.

Read Nate Siems and Steven Taylor’s write-up here.

2. Joe Greenspan’s Military Obligations

My favorite read of the year came in the form of an in depth look at the military obligations of newly-signed defender Joe Greenspan.

Greenspan is a bit of a unique situation in MLS - and even in pro sports at large - in that he is a graduate of the Naval Academy. While graduates of military academies are almost universally obligated to years of service following their education, student athletes intending to join the highest ranks of professional sports are sometimes granted waivers to allow them to go pro with the expectation that they will function as public ambassadors for the military during their time there.

While Greenspan was previously pulled away from MLS to serve aboard a destroyer (there are worse days jobs), he is now free to serve as a reservist - possibly in the twin cities - and commit his full attention to Minnesota United.

Seriously, this is a great read.

Check out Brad Omland’s piece here.

3. Learning to Draft with FIFA ‘17

Heading into this year’s Expansion Draft, there was little to no way to read the tea leaves and predict what kind of organization newly anointed head coach Adrian Heath was trying to build in Minnesota.

Would he use the Expansion Draft to begin building an “attack-minded” squad similar to his efforts at Orlando? Would he take advantage of the draft’s deeper-than-usual crop of defenders to shore up the back line? Nobody knew!

In the deafening silence before the draft, one E Pluribus contributor turned to the only data we had: FIFA 2017 on Xbox One.

Tyler’s journey into the rabbit hole of potential draft picks is funny, irreverent, and totally worth your time.

Read Tyler Birschbach’s hilarious piece here.

4. #RamirezWatch

Christian Ramirez is likely the most popular player (perhaps tied with Miguel Ibarra) to ever sport a Minnesota United kit.

The young striker is electric, intuitive, and currently not on our team. Since the Loons’ final season in NASL ended a few months ago, one of the biggest question on everyone’s mind has been when (not if) we would sign the hometown favorite.

While rumors of backroom negotiations between the Loons front office and Ramirez’s agent swirled, there was no official word for a desperately long time. It was painful waiting through the offseason, wondering if we could be so far apart on terms that he may end up going somewhere else.

Thankfully, answers look to be on the horizon. Coach Adrian Heath recently sat down with WCCO News Radio and confided on air that he expected a deal with Ramirez to be completed very soon. That was a few weeks ago so it’s not unreasonable to assume the deal has been finalized by this point.

The ball is firmly in United’s court as we wait for an official announcement in the coming days. Remember, rosters will be finalized within a paltry four weeks, by January 28.

Stay up to date with all the latest #RamirezWatch news, speculation, and desperate longing for our favorite striker here.

5. Written in Ice: A History of Pro Soccer in MN

We’re all pumped to see United promoted to MLS but if you haven’t read up on the deep roots of the sport in Minnesota, you’re missing out.

The first in a string of history lessons, Written in Ice #1 dives into the Minnesota Kicks and the first iteration of the North American Soccer League (NASL). Long before Minnesota United was even a twinkle in current team owner Dr. Bill McGuire’s eye, Minnesota was fielding a league-beating XI that sported some pretty killer kits, to boot.

Take a walk down memory lane with Nate Siems’ piece here.

Farewell ‘16, Hello ‘17

As 2016 comes to a close, I want to offer a sincere thank you to all the longtime United supporters, new fans, and friends of the community that have joined us on this journey since our launch on November 23.

We’re thrilled the blog has gotten off to a great start in such a short period of time. I can only imagine what our community will look like this time next year.

From all of us here at E Pluribus Loonum, Happy New Year!