Q: What is Minnesota Aurora?
A: A new women's soccer franchise that prides itself on being women-led and community-owned, the Aurora will play its inaugural game Thursday night against the Green Bay Glory at TCO Stadium (the Vikings practice stadium) in Eagan.
Q: What level of soccer is it?
A: This is amateur soccer — the players aren't paid to play — but many hope to advance to the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), the top American professional soccer league for women. There are 24 players on the Aurora roster.
Q: What league is the Aurora in?
A: Minnesota is a founding member of the USL W League, which has a stated goal of "enhancing the women's soccer pipeline between college and professional soccer." The inaugural 2022 season features 44 teams and seven divisions. The clubs have arranged free housing for their players and don't charge players a participation fee, usually around $1,000, as other summer leagues do.
Q: Who will the Aurora play?
A: The Aurora compete in the Heartland Division along with Chicago City SC, Chicago Dutch Lions FC, Green Bay Glory, Kaw Valley FC (Kansas) and St. Louis Lions. The team's 12-game schedule is entirely within the division.
Q: Who are some of the players to watch?
A: Goalkeeper Sarah Fuller made international headlines in 2020 after becoming the first woman to play and score in a Power Five football game with Vanderbilt, just days after leading the school's soccer team to an SEC title. Forward Kristelle Yewah, a student at the University of Minnesota dental school, tried out for the team on a whim and blew the coaches away. Triplets Catherine, Elizabeth and Rami Rapp, from Evergreen, Colo., hold down the midfield and defense. There are 12 players with ties to Minnesota on the roster.
Q: Who owns the Aurora?
A: The team was formed after a 2020 brainstorming session by a small group of community members. Last summer and fall, they launched an investment campaign, and 3,080 investors combined to purchase $1 million worth of shares. The franchise is led by president Andrea Yoch, CFO Susan Earle and head coach Nicole Lukic, among others.
Q: Where will the Aurora play?
A: TCO Stadium, part of the Vikings compound in Eagan, is the home for the Aurora. It has about 5,600 seats — sold out for Thursday's opener — with other room for spectators to sit and stand on the west end. It will offer full concessions, including alcohol.
Q: How else can people watch?