It’s not every town that has a world-class professional soccer team in its backyard. And if you’re thinking, “But MN United is based in St. Paul. That’s not quite Woodbury’s backyard,” we’ve got to say, there’s more to the story. Minnesota’s professional men’s team, Minnesota United FC, has an incredible number of direct connections to Woodbury, starting with players and front-office staff who hail from our fair city. There are players Eric Miller and Brent Kallman (both of whom you can read about in past issues of Woodbury Magazine); co-owner Tim Thone; executive vice president Bryant Pfeiffer; sales executive Ezekiel Okeleye; and broadcaster Jamie Watson.
L to R: Ezekiel Okeleye, Jamie Watson, Bryant Pfeiffer
If that’s not cool enough, last October, former mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens signed a proclamation to make October 21 Woodbury Soccer Day, to celebrate the Loons’ last game of the season (and last game at TCF Bank Stadium before their move) and all of their connections to the city. Co-owner and Woodbury High School grad (class of 1977) Tim Thone purchased and donated 4,000 tickets for the match to East Ridge High School and Woodbury High School students, plus players in the Woodbury Athletic Association. Indeed, soccer is incredibly popular in Woodbury, and the city is home to elite programs for players at all levels, from elementary school on up. The official Woodbury Soccer Day proclamation included a few incredible statistics: in the city, there are more than 900 competitive players on more than 60 teams, and more than 1,200 recreational players (as of 2017).
This summer, grab a ticket or two for yourself and your fam, and check out the Loons’ brand-new digs at Allianz Field in St. Paul. Then, lace up your cleats back home and participate in our community’s great soccer tradition. Scarves up!