MINNESOTA AURORA GAMEDAY
Wednesday: 7 p.m. vs. Rochester FC * TV: Fox 9+
Where: TCO Stadium (Eagan)
The schedule: The Aurora will play 12 games during the regular season, all against other members of the USL W League's Heartland Division. Their six home games will be televised on Fox 9+ and streamed on Fox9.com.
The roster: A returning group of 17 players is joined by 11 newcomers. The returnees include midfielder Morgan Stone, whose nine goals were second-most on the team last year, and forward Maya Hansen of Savage, who broke South Dakota State's career points record last fall. Three new midfielders — Sophie French, Hannah Adler and Vienna Behnke — have pro soccer experience, and standout defenders Kennedy Faulknor and Tianna Harris join a group that recorded six shutouts last season.
More than half the roster is from Minnesota, including Mariah Nguyen (Andover/St. Thomas), Jelena Zbiljic (Excelsior/Gophers) and Arianna Del Moral (Brooklyn Park/St. Cloud State).
The league: The USL W League expanded from 44 to 65 teams this year and added a second Minnesota club, Rochester FC. In addition to Rochester and the Aurora, the Heartland Division includes two clubs based in Chicago and three in Wisconsin (Green Bay, Glendale and Racine/Kenosha). The playoff format also has expanded to 16 teams and four rounds of competition.