We love our own in Minnesota. Every time a national sports storyline emerges, we try to find the local connection. With Minnesota United FC entering Major League Soccer this year, the state will see an influx of interest in soccer. While it doesn’t look likely that anyone from Minnesota will be playing for the Loons, there is still a local angle to it all.
Let’s take a look at the national soccer scene and find the top five all-time greatest players from Minnesota.
5. Teal Bunbury (forward, winger)
Bunbury was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, but moved with his family to Prior Lake when he was 10 years old. He attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s High School and played soccer for his first club team, Apple Valley Juventus.
He played for the Akron Zips in college, then decided to forego his final two years of NCAA eligibility to pursue a professional soccer career. He was selected fourth overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting K.C.).
In six MLS seasons, he has scored 29 goals in 176 appearances. He currently plays for New England Revolution and was a member of the United States Men’s National Team from 2010 to 2012.
4. Fuad Ibrahim (forward, winger)
Ibrahim was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Richfield. At 15 years old, he became the second-youngest player ever selected in the MLS SuperDraft in January 2007. In four MLS seasons, he scored three goals in 26 appearances.
He most recently played two seasons for the United in the North America Soccer League. His status on the MLS roster is currently unknown. He is also a current member of the Ethiopian national football team where he has scored one goal in 10 appearances.
3. Tony Sanneh (defender, midfielder)
Sanneh was born in St. Paul and made his first professional appearance in 1994. He played eight seasons in MLS and two in Germany’s Bundesliga for Hertha BSC. He scored 22 goals in 147 MLS appearances from 1996 to 2009. He also scored three goals in 43 appearances for the United States Men’s National Team from 1997 to 2005. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Sanneh played every minute of every game as the USMNT drove to the quarterfinals.
Sanneh remains active in the Twin Cities soccer community as a coach and consultant for MNUFC.
2. Manny Lagos (midfielder)
Those familiar with soccer will recognize Lagos as the current sporting director for Minnesota United. He was born in St. Paul in 1971 and was part of the inaugural Minnesota Thunder team in 1990. In 10 MLS seasons, he scored 27 goals in 170 appearances from 1996 to 2005. He also made three appearances for the United States Men’s National Team from 2001 to 2003.
His impact on soccer in Minnesota has helped create the future of the United in MLS.
1. Ethan Finlay (winger)
Finlay was born in Duluth in 1990. He recently completed his fifth MLS season with the Columbus Crew where he has scored 29 goals in 131 appearances. His pure scoring ability, with the potential for more, puts him at the top of this list.
He is also a current member of the United States Men’s National Team.
Taylor Twellman (forward)
If you’ve watched any soccer coverage on ESPN, you probably recognized Twellman’s name. Born in Minneapolis in 1980, he likely only claims Minnesota on his birth certificate. He scored 101 goals in 174 appearances in nine seasons with New England Revolution. He also played seven years for the USMNT.
Although Minnesota can’t take the credit for his soccer upbringing, Twellman did return to show his support for MLS expansion in the state.
Kassey Kallman (defender)
Kallman earns honorable mention as the only current professional women’s soccer player from Minnesota. She was born and raised in Woodbury and played collegiately for the Florida State Seminoles from 2010 to 2013.
She was recently traded to the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League, the highest professional league for women in the United States. Her older brothers Brent and Brian have also played soccer professionally.
Brad Omland is a contributor for SB Nation’s E Pluribus Loonum. Follow him on Twitter for Minnesota sports updates and commentary: @bradradio.