The Mingos may have just an ok season on the field being just 7-7-4 with 25 points sitting in 4th place as of last night. But the good news is they’re holding a playoff spot with just two months left in the season. Even better news is how their doing off the pitch, their social media presence is bar none some of the best in all of North American soccer, their attendance is also extremely good.
Forward Madison has an average attendance of 4,189/match in their roughly 5,000 seat home of Breese Stevens Field in Madison, WI. Not only is this the best in USL League One by over 800 fans/game but this would also put them into 18th (of 36) in USL Championship attendance. This begins why I feel the Loons should stay partnered with the Mingos and not buy into USL on their own.
The attendance is a huge problem with MLS owned teams in both USL Championship and USL League One. The MLS owned teams in USL are averaging 206, 207 (Toronto FC II and Orlando City B) with the outlier being North Texas SC averaging 1,476 for an average of 629.7. In the USL Championship the teams are having just as many issues with 5/9 teams drawing under 1,000/game and the average of all 9 being just 1,276.1 with Tacoma Defiance (FKA Sounders 2) drawing 2,202 per match.
Some fans will say this would bring back the atmosphere of the Thunder/Stars/Loons playing at NSC before the MLS announcement but that may not be the case. If the National Sports Center Stadium doesn’t meet USL requirements the Loons would be forced to move their team to either Allianz Field or possibly CHS Field (USL requires a capacity of 5,000+). Which if either of those happens would not give the same atmosphere as NSC and require working around Minnesota United FC and or St. Paul Saints games.
Now atmosphere, attendance, or scheduling may not be the biggest thing for some fans (though it will be for a lot of them) but for development of the players. This is another issue knowing that most of the players will be Youth Academy products and playing against grown adults. Per The Athletic the USL is also considering dropping all MLS owned teams down to USL League One in 2021. In that piece one MLS source stated “They felt moving all MLS-owned USL teams into League One would turn it into a Under-21 type circut.” Which there is already an official U-23 league in USL League Two and another similar league in the NPSL with it’s North Conference.
Minnesota United can also continue to play friendlies against Forward Madison and expand their reach not only in the Twin Cities, or Minnesota but across the entire Upper-Midwest. And if the Loons want a high level development side for younger players they could always invest in a USL League Two or NPSL club similar to New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting Kansas City. Not only would this provide high level competition for youth players but the Loons can continue to send players who need extra seasoning to Madison.