On January 15th, Maplebrook Soccer posted a thread on Twitter that left many in Minnesota’s lower league soccer journalism community questioning most of what they’d assumed going into the 2019 NPSL and WPSL seasons. The tweet, as shown below, states that Maplebrook Soccer would be showcasing their talent in both the NPSL and WPSL, two of the major lower tier soccer leagues in the Midwest and the United States, covering both men’s and women’s soccer.
We are proud to announce the latest addition to our soccer family! Starting this Spring we will have the opportunity to showcase our home-grown talent in both the National Premier Soccer League and the Women’s Premier Soccer League. #playbecauseyouloveto #MPBfamily— MapleBrook Soccer (@MPB1990) January 15, 2019
Maplebrook is a well-known academy based in Maple Grove, who state their mission as thus on their website, “MapleBrook (MPB) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of the community’s youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition. Our job is also to make learning and participating in competitive soccer fun, and instill in young players a lifelong passion for the sport.”
We must, however, step back for a second to properly understand why this situation is was as surprising as it was. It was reported and confirmed by those involved in late 2018 that the Minnesota TwinStars would be merging with FC Minnesota, the Minnesota Cup and MASL Division 1 champions of that year, to create a top level NPSL powerhouse. That merger was reported by this very website (https://www.epluribusloonum.com/2018/10/21/18004818/fc-minnesota-and-minnesota-twinstars-to-merge-npsl-north).
The merger came after the TwinStars academy had already begun to merge with Maplebrook. The timing of said mergers raised some early questions, as FC Minnesota are connected to Blaine Soccer Club which, as you probably figured out already, is a soccer academy based in Blaine, very close to Maple Grove. Any questions as to the multi-merging cloud of events was put to rest when FC Minnesota confirmed the situation during research for this article.
FC Minnesota have now stated that the deal with Twinstars is no longer taking place and that the two clubs will continue to act is completely separate entities. “We are looking to grow as an organization, and at the moment it means to slow down and allow our brand/ MASL teams grow,” they told us.
FC Minnesota did note that the collapse of the merger was not a reflection of a bad relationship with the club or league and that they hope to continue to coexist in a positive way with both.
With the merger between the MASL and NPSL sides gone, the recent news seemed less muddled but the staff at E Pluribus Loonum (ironically all but me actually) felt the wording of Maplebrook’s posts and use of graphics that seemed to directly pair them with the NPSL and WPSL seemed to imply that the post was more than just an acknowledgement of their former academy kids making the TwinStars squad.
Further investigation revealed two interesting developments relating to the Twinstars brand. One is the fact that the URL MinnesotaTwinstars.com no longer leads to a running website, but instead sends you to a GoDaddy.com page selling the domain.
The next finding, a far more revealing one, shows that the Minnesota TwinStars women’s side, which plays in the WPSL, is actually already rebranded to match the Maplebrook brand. Both the club page and the 2019 standing page for the WPSL call the club the “Maplebrook Fury”, though the TwinStars logo is still used, showing some form of transition instead of Maplebrook being a separate club replacing the Dragons.
E Pluribus Loonum contacted Jean-Yves Viardin, Director of Coaching for Maplebrook Soccer, who had this to say: “Maplebrook will also house both NPSL and WPSL teams. Men’s team will be called Maplebrook TwinStars and women’s Maplebrook Fury... Home games will be played in Maple Grove.” With this conversation in mind, the fate of the TwinStars goes from murky to somewhat clear.
As things stand we know several facts about this ongoing situation. The FC Minnesota merger with the TwinStars is over and both clubs will continue to function separate of one another. We also know that the Maplebrook brand will be overtaking the TwinStars organization, though the name itself may survive through the “Maplebrook TwinStars” as Viardin suggests. We also know that the Maplebrook Fury are no longer a mystery and are indeed a confirmed rebrand of the TwinStars women’s side. Further details, like how soon we’ll see the stadium move to Maple Grove, are still somewhat unclear.
With the 2019 season of the NPSL and WPSL and the third season of the NPSL North approaching fast, the rebranding and relocation of the club will surely be soon if it is to take place this season. E Pluribus Loonum will continue to track the story and report further updates.