The ‘ramshackle,’ DIY soccer club bringing a new sense of fun to the pitch

Minneapolis City SC's (L to R) AJ Albers, Aaron Olson, and Matt Elder before a home game at Augsburg College's Edor Nelson Field // Photo via Minneapolis City SC's Facebook

Minneapolis City SC’s (L to R) AJ Albers, Aaron Olson, and Matt Elder before a home game at Augsburg College’s Edor Nelson Field // Photo via Minneapolis City SC’s Facebook

It’s summertime in Minnesota. The sun’s out, the coolers are full, and do-it-yourself season is officially here. The coolest DIY project in the Twin Cities isn’t a deck, or a fire pit, or a brand new man cave. It’s a soccer team called Minneapolis City SC—a self-proclaimed “ramshackle bunch” on a mission to build a soccer club from the ground up and have more fun than anyone else in sports.

“There’s something to be said for a little more ramshackle, personal type of experience. That’s what we wanted to do,” club co-founder Dan Hoedeman said. “Minnesota United does a great job and they do their thing. A bunch of these people are season ticket holders for them too so I don’t think there’s anything competitive about it. We’re a big enough soccer city that people are into this type of thing and you can just get more cool soccer.”

A ramshackle DIY project may be a great way of explaining Minneapolis City SC, but that doesn’t do proper justice for the organization’s legitimacy. The team affectionately known as “The Crows” have all the makeup of a serious ballclub.

Veteran players like Brian Kallman and Dan O’Brien played professionally in the NASL and have been great mentors for the team’s younger players with professional ambitions. The logo, branding, and jerseys, which are sponsored by St. Paul’s Summit Brewing Company, all look like they could belong to a professional club too.

The team, affectionately dubbed "The People's Club," thanks its fans firsthand // Photo via Minnesota City SC's Facebook

The team, affectionately dubbed “The People’s Club,” thanks its fans firsthand // Photo via Minnesota City SC’s Facebook

The team has a boisterous supporters group called The Citizens and they are organized, witty, passionate, and loud. They hold official parties at The Viking Bar before and after the team’s games at Edor Nelson Field on the campus of Augsburg College. The games are filled with constant singing, chanting, flag-waving, and a PA announcer walking through the stands with a microphone like the old days of the St. Paul Saints at Midway Stadium. The announcer is as quick-witted as the brethren in the stands when opposing players commit fouls or miss shots, and celebrates each City goal with an extended passage from Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Raven.”

“When we played VSLT at their home stadium, they had two announcers doing the play-by-play over the PA. It was really weird and we had never heard that before. So people were tweeting at Nate who does the PA for us to do that too and he just started reading poems,” Hoedeman says laughing. “That’s sort of our thing. We are going have a lot of fun doing weird stuff like that.”

Nate, Minneapolis City SC's unofficial PA announcer, regales "The Crows" with quotes from Edgar Allen Poe's classic poem, "The Raven" // Photo via Minneapolis City SC's Facebook

Nate, Minneapolis City SC’s unofficial PA announcer, recites quotes from Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven” to the team’s support group, The Crows // Photo via Minneapolis City SC’s Facebook

The club is all about weird stuff but it’s also about providing a place to develop players who play hard and are also from Minnesota.

“We’re not checking birth certificates. You could have moved as a kid or gone to college here,” Hoedeman said. “Our goal is to have guys who move on and play professional. I think we have a few who might be able to.”

It wouldn’t be surprising to see some of City’s players ascend the ladder of professional soccer in America. The team played well last year in the Premier League of America and has continued its strong play this year as a member of the National Premier Soccer League. Last Fall, City became the first-ever amateur team from Minnesota to qualify for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the oldest ongoing soccer tournament in the United States, but were ultimately disqualified from the field for switching leagues in the offseason. Never ones to miss an opportunity to flex their wit, the team made shirts reading: ‘U.S. Open Cup 2017: UNDEFEATED’

“That’s kind of our personality,” Hoedeman said. “So we’re going to troll the crap out of whoever wins the tournament and try to get a friendly with them.”

Photos via Minnesota City SC’s Facebook

Whether City gets their well-deserved shot at whoever wins the Open Cup will remain to be seen. What we know for sure is this a DIY project of a club that is trending in the right direction and not going anywhere anytime soon.

In Hoedeman’s words, what started with just “a couple of ad agency guys who can get the word out and have a really great color printer” has grown into an organization that has already built a nice and welcoming niche for itself in the Twin Cities sports landscape.

“That’s what makes it really great. We’re a DIY thing. We built it ourselves,” Hoedeman said. “We don’t have the money to hire people, we have to make it fun enough that people want to be part of it.”

So far, they are crushing the fun part.

 
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