Minnesota United Supporters Should Be Furious

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Minnesota United, currently plying its trade in the NASL, is expected to make the jump to MLS for the 2017 season. Joining along with them will be Atlanta United, owned by Atlanta Falcons and Home Depot mogul Arthur Blank. This would mean a pair of “United” clubs would join the league at the same time, something MLS isn’t exactly fond of. And the fans should be angry.

Word has come down that the league is pushing Minnesota United to drop the United moniker to avoid confusion among fans. Never mind that Minnesota has gone by United since 2013 when the Atlanta franchise was far from a reality. Minnesota was awarded a spot in MLS in March of 2015 when the Atlanta team was still anonymous. The club has already gone through multiple self-induced name changes. They were founded as Minnesota NSC and became Minnesota Stars before uniting the history of soccer in the state as Minnesota United. They are also uniting the Twin Cities under one club. Atlanta, meanwhile. has little claim to the word United other than branding. What exactly are they uniting? They have done more destruction of local clubs as opposed to bringing them together. The NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks lie dead in Arthur Blank’s tire tracks.

This is just another example of MLS applying arbitrary rules at arbitrary times. It’s too late to get rid of this nonexistent United debacle. If the league was worried about having too many United clubs, why did they allow Atlanta to use it in the first place. It seems like a better idea to just tell them to pick something else than force a rename and rebrand on an already established club.

Why do they feel the need to bully one of their expansion franchises around? They are worried that having two Uniteds enter the league at the same time, plus having three in the league overall, would be confusing for the apparently unintelligent American soccer fan. Sounds like a solution in search of a problem to me. The Premier League has three Uniteds in their league, plus many more at lower divisions. What’s wrong with MLS adding two more to their roster? I don’t see anything amiss. If an American fan can’t tell D.C. United from Minnesota United from Atlanta United, then they must struggle with the White Sox and Red Sox in baseball.

Where is the fan outrage at this? The team they have loved and supported since 2010 is being coerced into a rebrand about a year before they are starting play. With all the success we have seen European fans have over ticket prices, why can’t the existing band of Minnesota United supporters come together and be heard over this? Their club, which they have supported for five seasons, is being bullied around by a mega rich owner from the south who is using your club name for nothing other than branding. Meanwhile, you’re being forced into an unnecessary name change.

It is inconvenient for them to, you know. The league and club will push them into buying new jerseys, shirts, scarves, and any other merchandise to replace the ones they already have. They can’t be seen sporting the Minnesota United name when the club is now called Minnesota FC, or whatever.

I can only imagine if this was happening to Detroit City, should they join MLS. If that day ever comes, and MLS wants to say “We already have New York City, you can’t join the club unless you change,” the supporters would riot. Especially if the league brought this down on us on such short notice.

The Dark Clouds, Minnesota United’s Independent Supporter Group, did release a statement opposing the name change.

Since MNUFC’s arrival we’ve enjoyed a measure of stability and come to deeply identify with our team’s identity. From the chants we sing to the banners we hold up, the word “United” has become synonymous with top-level professional soccer in this state.

This is what MLS is getting in the way of. They are messing with the very identity of the club they welcomed in and the culture that has formed around it. Dark Clouds president Jim Oliver calls for other United supporters to urge MLS not to take this action and to allow the club to retain its name so the stability formed behind it can remain as they transition into the league. It’s a great start, and I hope it leads to plenty of people stepping up and allowing their voices to be heard.

MLS has shown time and time again they have no respect for the history of the cities they expand to. This does not have to be the latest chapter in the saga. The fans just need to rise up and make their voice heard.