Want to help me solve a mystery?
A few Star Tribune sportswriters and editors went to the Minnesota United match on Saturday night at Allianz Field. Fun night, fun game, beautiful place. Looking around the full stadium, I imagined asking everyone there these two questions:
Do you follow these Loons in the media or on social media of any kind?
Do you read articles about this team?
Here's the mystery: despite the sold-out matches and team fandom spreading far and wide across Minnesota, Loons online readership lags behind every other pro team we cover regularly. Why is that?
I'm sure part of the answer is this: our United coverage strategy isn't what some modern soccer fans want. Some of it is on us. We're serving lunch when they want breakfast. I'd love to figure out that piece. (More videos and podcasts, fewer stories? Social media-forward approach?)
We have the very good Jerry Zgoda (when he's not covering the Twins for us in a pinch or the Ryder Cup this week) working hard to cover this beat and writing interesting stories. Jon Marthaler has been pinch-hitting for Zgoda this summer and brings soccer expertise to our coverage. But maybe our daily and weekly formula for coverage is off the mark. We're using a traditional team-coverage recipe. Is that a mistake?
And this is likely true, too: Some United fans, and soccer fans all across the country, love to be there and support the club but aren't interested in reading about the team, the players and the transactions. Several sports editors in other markets, having been through this MLS readership struggle, believe this.
Full house. Interesting players. Fun matches. Winning seasons. … And low readership.
That's the mystery. Send me your clues at email@example.com.
Chris Carr is the Star Tribune's assistant managing editor for sports. This question also appeared in the Sunday morning This Week in Sports newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it and more Star Tribune sports newsletters.