Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath scored 94 goals in his eight years as a player at Everton. One of those goals lives forever. In the 117th minute of the 1984 FA Cup semifinal against Southampton, Heath's glancing header off a free kick found the top right corner of the net. It broke a 0-0 deadlock and sent Everton to the championship, a game it won 2-0 for the team's first major title since 1970.
This summer, Heath gets to reconnect with the club when it comes to Allianz Field on July 20 for an international friendly. That match is the headliner of a major soccer summer coming to the Twin Cities that includes another international friendly with German side SC Paderborn on June 11 and the MLS All-Star Game against the Liga MX All-Stars on Aug. 10.
"I'm delighted they're coming," Heath said of Everton. "I know that they will bring a lot of people with them because whenever we've ever been in preseason going back as far as when I was playing there, you know they build their summer holidays around the fact that they'll go and watch the team.
"So I think it will be a big crowd. I'm really looking forward to it, you know, and the biggest fan. It changed my life, going there a long, long time ago."
Everton and SC Paderborn's arrivals signify a larger trend of European clubs trying to build a presence in the United States over the past decade. Real Madrid and Manchester United famously sold out the Big House at the University of Michigan for a game in 2014, while other MLS clubs have hosted friendlies with big-name Premier League clubs, such as when the Seattle Sounders faced Chelsea in 2012.
Everton's stop in St. Paul will be its second of two in the U.S. this summer after it faces Arsenal in a preseason match at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on July 16.
"I know that speaking to the club last year when I went home that they're trying to get a bigger presence in the States," Heath said. "And when you consider how many American players have played for the club and been successful from there, it makes sense. So, the fact that they're trying to get a bigger sort of foothold, a bigger presence in the U.S., it makes sense."
As the European clubs aim to capture Minnesota fans, MLS wants to build that community as well with the All-Star Game. Along with the game, the league will host a concert with Khalid at The Commons in downtown Minneapolis, an all-star skills challenge and a variety of community events throughout the week.
It's the second consecutive year the league's best match up with their Liga MX counterparts after MLS won last year's meeting on penalties.
Although none of the games will count in standings, Heath puts extra weight on the match with his old club.
"There's gonna be some good games there, which people will normally class as exhibition games," Heath said. "I guarantee you, the Everton game won't be that because, God willing, they stay in the Premier League, which I do, but I think there'll be big changes in the offseason. I think that'll be a really important offseason for them."
Everton is in 16th place in the Premier League and needs to hold that position or improve it to avoid relegation to the second-division English Championship.
Everton's important offseason adds a little extra spice to a summer already full of extra soccer. The Loons have a chance to add more games to the fans' plate Wednesday night when they take on Colorado Rapids at 7 p.m. in the US Open Cup. A win would propel the Loons into the round of 16.