Minnesota United on Thursday announced a partnership with the National Sports Center in Blaine that will keep it training there for at least the next 15 years.
Starting this year, United will become a presenting sponsor of USA Cup, a July tournament that last year drew 1,150 youth teams from 20 states and 20 countries.
The partnership is intended to keep the NSC as what the team called Minnesota’s home of soccer. Before joining Major League Soccer, United and its predecessor teams practiced and played home games there. In recent years the team has built locker rooms, a players’ lounge, workout and treatment spaces, a cafeteria and added both indoor artificial turf and outdoor turf and grass fields.
A bubble will be erected over the NSC stadium’s artificial turf field this summer that for six months every year will provide United with a covered regulation training field for the first time.
United Sporting Director Manny Lagos played in the first youth USA Cup and the first Minnesota Thunder game in Blaine. He won a gold medal at the 1990 Olympic Sports Festival as a player and a North American Soccer League championship as a coach.
His son, Jackson, won a USA Cup there, too.
Lagos called Thursday “an exciting day because it allows us to grow and build soccer in Minnesota for the right reasons.”
In 2013 the team, newly acquired by Bill McGuire, pursued a new training center in Woodbury but later backed out when development plans there didn’t materialize. The agreement announced Thursday provides opportunity for multiple renewals to keep United in Blaine beyond 2034.
“If we’re in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest soccer facility, there’s no way we’re not going to figure out a way to make this happen,” NSC executive director Todd Johnson said.
Lagos was asked Thursday if the team considered any training options closer to their new Allianz Field in St. Paul.
“I don’t see any reason why,” he said. “Today hammers home this is our home. This is where we come to work every day. This facility is only 12 miles from Allianz Field. This is a very easy commute for our guys to come up and get their work in. The culture we create up here is going to be massive in creating an environment where our guys become a championship-caliber team.”
The Loons had a light training day on Thursday, a day after several of the team’s younger prospects played much of a 1-0 friendly loss to Hertha Berlin. Recalled for that game, midfielder Collin Martin returned on loan to Hartford in the USL. He is set to return for a June 2 home game against Philadelphia.
Others including Hassani Dotson, Wyatt Omsberg, Mason Toye, Abu Danladi as well as Martin and Dayne St. Clair will be called upon when United veterans Romain Metanire, Rasmus Schuller, Jan Gregus and Kevin Molino all leave in June to play for their respective national teams.
United hosts Houston at 7 p.m. Saturday at Allianz Field.