AJ: Every year Luke and I try to find a Union away game to attend. So far we saw the Union tie Colorado in Denver and we saw the Union lose to the Revolution at some football stadium way outside of Boston. So this year we found two possible games that we could attend and we asked our Twitter followers to decide between a trip to see the Union at Minnesota United or at Real Salt Lake. The people lead us to Minnesota and we were happy with their choice. We were most excited about the prospect of watching the Union against one of MLS’s newer teams who haven’t found much success on the field, but mostly we were excited to attend a game in the brand new, sparkly Allianz Field, Minnesota United’s new home.
So we packed our bags and headed to Minnesota with a handful of nerdy soccer excursions on the itinerary.
We arrived on Saturday and our first soccer plan was to find a place to watch the Champions League Final. Luke, as a Liverpool fan, threw on his Salah jersey and immediately had people giving him shouts on the street, including one driver on a back street who hung halfway out his driver’s side window to share his support. Right away we knew we were in for a fun soccer weekend. After one soccer bar was packed to the brim, the hungry Doopy Brothers found a less full bar to eat at. Well before kick off, the bar was jam packed with a diverse set of soccer fans. Sitting with a group of friendly Ethiopian fans and some Minnesota United local fans, we enjoyed watching Liverpool take Champions League glory.
Saturday night we ventured out to watch our second soccer game of the day. We went to a nice small stadium to take in some NPSL soccer, watching MPLS City SC take on rivals Duluth FC. For those unfamiliar with MPLS City SC, they are a team that released a beautiful throwback jersey, during their first season of existence. They had a nice crowd which was a shade under 1,000 fans, but the announcer announced a sellout of 22,009 fans. So you have to like them for their humor. They also gave us a fun game to watch, but Duluth FC won 2-1.
Luke: On Sunday, after eating a solid breakfast at literally the smallest diner I’ve ever seen, we headed toward the main attraction for the trip. We headed towards Allianz Field after a quick stop at Talisman Caps on the way up to patronize one of the coolest and most authentic soccer companies in America.
I had this weird feeling for most of the trip, one of “What are we doing here?” as Minneapolis, while really nice and full of nice people, isn’t exactly a tourist’s destination. Capitalized by the whole “We’re Philadelphia Union fans, but we live in Virginia… but we are from PA” clunky explainer (with fingers crossed that they knew what MLS was) coming up a little too frequently in conversation wherever we went, I felt like we were the most random visitors of the city.
This feeling all but disappeared as soon as we walked up to Allianz Field, “Oh right, this is it. This is why we’re here.” And then we saw some Union shirts and Sons of Ben flags as we were taking in the sights. That made my thoughts of “doubt” subside fully. The reasons why any of us were here, both Union fans and Loons fans, didn’t actually matter. Being a sports fan (especially of an American soccer team) is already so illogical that who cares where we are from or what got us here. It’s about enjoying the team we choose to support and the game we love, and being grateful for every opportunity we get to do so.
AJ: Walking up to that stadium was real eye opening to how far soccer has come in our country. We immediately found some Union fans, exchanged high fives, greetings, and stories of Union glory. After a couple of beers on the patio outside of the famed Allianz Field Brew Hall, the gates finally opened. Upon entry, we just kind of did an awkward spin, laugh and high five at how cool the place looked. The seats in the stadium were a mix of shades of blue, black and white, along with a pattern of a loon in the supporters section wall of seats. Above the Brew Hall was a huge analog clock that held the game time and the score. It was a cool piece of history from early Minnesota soccer days.
We went on to do a lap of the stadium, ooh-ing and ahh-ing along the way. We were greeted by one of the heads of the Loons support group who invited us for beers after game (they are such nice people, unfortunately we never made it)
I suppose there was a soccer game to watch, as diehard Union fans, that was fun too.
Doop. Doop. Doop.
You an hear more about Luke and AJ’s trip to the Twin Cities on Episode 19 of the Doopy Brothers Podcast.