Minnesota United debuted their brand new 2018 kit today at The Mall of America. I was there to see it all happen, and well, a lot happened. First and foremost, let’s discuss the new kit and its features. In 2017, MNUFC attained what was known as an “off the shelf kit” due to the time-crunch that the kit sponsor, Adidas, was under. The 2017 kit featured a grey shirt with a blue sash across the chest. The new kit features two-toned grey vertical stripes, with the MNUFC crest above the heart and our sponsor, Target’s, logo in the middle of the jersey. The eye catching part of this kit is the red button across the neck. The red button is a symbolization of a Loons eye, and I personally think its a pleasant surprise to have the addition of something so iconic about our Loons. The two-toned vertical stripes are stealthy while classy, and bring a flare to the squad. The Loons have been bearing the crest since 2013, with the grey colors symbolizing the iron range while the blue featured on the kits is seen as the Mississippi river. In January, 2017 Target and their CEO, William White, were ecstatic to be partnered with the loons. “It’s an honor to be the first front-of-jersey sponsor for Minnesota United FC and help bring soccer to the Twin Cities, which has been Target’s hometown for more than 50 years.”
The kit release itself was a huge success, with coaching staff, MNUFC personnel and players attending and debuting the shirt in front of a large crowd of fans. When I went about the crowd asking fans for their opinions on the kits and how they feel for the upcoming season, I received many mixed responses, but every fan seemed genuinely excited to see the Loons back on the field in 2018. The excitement from fans was seen all around the surrounding areas of where everything went down. Raging chants of “M-N-U-F-C” broke out during the middle of speeches, along with the infamous theme song of the Loons, “Wonderwall” by Oasis. The broadcasting team, made up of Jamie Watson, Kyndra De St. Aubin and Callum Williams led the event today with appearances from Manny Lagos, Adrian Heath and then the squad. The activies surrounding the event included an open team shop, autograph and picture sessions with a few players along with a “guess it” game show that Jamie Watson held involving teams of two from the current player selection.
The overall attendance of the event exceeded expectations, with fans covering all four levels of the mall. The fans were covered in Loons gear head to toe, were accompanied by energetic smiles on their faces. I chatted with a few of these fans, aand most of them had fantastic things to say. The Feuterborn family, who are all huge Loons fans attended the kit unveiling today. The whole family exclaimed to me how they are huge Adrian Heath fans, along with having their favorite players be Jerry Thiesson and Francisco Calvo. They exclaimed to me how they hope to see a two-striker set up this year featuring Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi along with seeing Matthew Lampson snatch the starting goalie spot from under Bobby Shuttleworth`s (occasionally broken) nose. In contrast fellow Loon fan, Marco Cavaletti, gave a few words of praise for keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, “We would not have has as good of a record as we did if it was not for his performance in a few games.” 11 year old Loon fan, Jason, had a shock of excitement on his face when the Loons took the stage, he told me how Christian Ramirez was his favorite player and how he looks up to his goal scoring techniques. in addition to the previous comments from fans, the Meisberger family exclaimed how they love the new kit, and all the minor additions that surround it. Going around and just asking fans about their thoughts on the new kit was fascinating, I did not hear one negative comment about the kit, and all the praise in the world was shown for our Loons. Minnesota United fans are truly one of a kind, we are the voice of the club, and we show it profoundly with praise.
As for the presentation of the kit, there was a lot of conversation on stage, accompanied by some terribly humorous jokes from Callum Williams and a brutal roast against Jamie Watson from Head Coach Adrian Heath. The show started with the continued announcement of their partnership with Fox Sports North for streaming matches this season, and then they brought on players to talk about preseason and the new kit. Adrian heath was brought on stage, and informed the fans of how preseason was going and where they hope to be headed. He stated how the team has been through 44 training sessions in the past twenty days, and that they are a week ahead of where they were at in preseason last year. In a one-on-one conversation with Adrian today, he told me how he has been thoroughly impressed with all of the rookies so far this season, commenting on their professionalism along with skill sets displayed in training and matches. Heath and I also talked about how successful the draft went for the team, along with the competitions for starting spots this season. The midfield is home to a five-man battle, with there being only 2 spots as of right now. Left back and striker are also being challenged for, with Burch and Mears, and Danladi and Ramirez. We also chatted about non-MNUFC topics, such as the fact that he is going to be a grandfather this summer; Adrian is extremely excited for his son and his daughter in law, but he’s even more excited to spoil the kid.
In my conversations with Strikers Abu Danladi and Christian Ramirez, they both were extremely humble and mentioned how they would be open to the possibility of working together in a two-striker set up. They both plan to exceed their goal tallies from last year, while Christian has a dream of obtaining to golden boot this upcoming season. Christian commented on the fact that he was not the penalty kick taker last year, and that it definitely affected his goal total. He hopes that this year, he gets a shot to add to his goal total along with wanting to create more chances inside the `18 yard box. Beneath Ramirez this year will be winger Ethan Finlay, and when speaking to him, he told me he was grateful to have tallied his first goal of the preseason, but expects more of himself prior to March 3rd. Ethan also mentioned that when he was a player in colombus during 2013, and the Loon crest came out, he immediately knew it was the “coolest crest in the game, it was better than any crest in MLS, USL or NASL”. Finlay went on to mention how the chemistry in the locker room has transcended to the pitch, and that the team is playing as a whole through the preseason.
Every player, especially captain Francisco Calvo, mentioned how the new kit this year is lighter in weight, and just feels more effective in displaying what Minnesota is really all about. Calvo, along with many others, hinted at the fact that the team has expectations this year; and that they are a playoff contending team. “A turnout like this, with this many fans, it means so much to this team and us players” - Francisco Calvo told me that he expects TCF Bank Stadium to be “louder than ever before” during the 2018 season, and that he promises to be the source of the noise a few times.
In an overall breakdown of today`s events; The Loons spread their wings and began their flight towards success for 2018. The kit reveal was a complete success, and the jersey itself looks great. The conversations with fans and players showed how excited Minnesota is as a whole for this upcoming season. To the thousands of fans who showed up today, thank you, you are what make Minnesota United, you are the source of this teams success.
We`d love to hear your thoughts on the kit, your hopes for the upcoming season or just talk about the Loons in general. Reply to us on twitter, leave us gifs containing your excitement(please) or leave comments in the comment section down below! #COYL