News Matches
Women's football

Backed by NFL and USWNT legends: Inside the unique women’s soccer club coming to Minnesota

12:30 BST 29/09/2021
Minnesota Women's Soccer composite
Minnesota Vikings icon Chad Greenway and former U.S. women's national team star Lori Lindsey are behind it - as are hundreds of everyday soccer fans

Andrea Yoch was at the home of Chad Greenway, the former Minnesota Viking who spent 11 years in the NFL, and she had a project she wanted to tell him about.

Greenway, a good friend and regular collaborator in her marketing work, heard it and immediately called his four soccer-playing daughters into the room. “Tell them,” he said, excitably. Yoch obliged.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, she had been invited to a meeting by two local sports fans in Minnesota. They wanted to start a women’s soccer team. But this was not a meeting of billionaires. This was a group of ordinary people who were soccer fans, so they needed to do it a different way.

Minnesota Women’s Soccer is the placeholder name for the first community-owned women’s soccer team in the United States and it will join the USL W-League, the second-tier, in 2022.

And while they might not have kicked a ball yet, or hired a coach, or signed a single player, they’ve already got an army of supporters. Among those are star names, such as Greenway, plus his whole family, and former U.S. women’s national team midfielder Lori Lindsey. But hundreds of soccer-crazy fans across the entire country are also in.

After raising $50,000 by selling shares within their community, the club launched a WeFunder page, allowing anyone to own part of the club for a minimum of $100. At the time of writing, they’ve raised over $700,000 and could well sell all their shares before the page closes in December.

“We believed that we could do well,” Yoch says, speaking on the latest episode of 'All of US: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show' by Goal. “We've been shocked by how well and how fast.

“Within the first few days, honestly, it was like watching the stock market for us. We were going in and refreshing the page every five minutes and the numbers just kept jumping and jumping - and it's continued to do that.

“What we realize now is that we're on to something. People are really excited. We were surprised, but pleasantly surprised, and really happy to find out we weren't crazy to believe that this could work.”

The community-owned model has been massively beneficial already, with the founders of the team each able to tap into the expertise they have from their day-to-day jobs to aid the launch.

“I'm a freelance marketer that does a lot of media. I run a lot of events so [the launch] didn't scare me,” Yoch explains – the signed Chelsea shirt hanging on the wall behind her, a gift from John Terry, is a souvenir from one of those many events.

“We have another co-founder who is a merchandise expert. Wes Burdine is deep in the soccer universe. As far as all our connections for soccer people, Wes knows everybody. Matt Privratsky is deep in women's soccer, so he's heading up the coaching search.

“This is not the model we want to continue once we start playing. We'll need employees and we'll need dedicated people, but for now, it's worked wonderfully.

“You know how you've always had a group project when you're in school and there's always someone that you want to kick out? We don't have anybody we want to kick out.”

The goals are to host a family-friendly environment where people can watch top quality women’s soccer, develop the players as people, helping them with ambitions off the pitch, and provide another opportunity for women to play the sport.

“That money is going to help us be very professional in how we go about the team, executing the team and not [having] to cut corners,” Yoch explained.

“It's going to take pressure off us to sell a lot of sponsorships. We're not going to have to compromise about who's going to be associated with the team, which is a wonderful thing when we have some set community principles that we want to adhere to.

“The other thing it will allow us to do is - we really want to pay well, right? We want to pay our head coach the best salary in the United States so that we can draw from the best pool of candidates.

“We want to be able to pay social media people and even game day interns - I don't want to pay them minimum wage. I'd like to pay them competitively so that we get the best candidates and everybody wants to come to us.

“Then, eventually, it allows us to do better marketing. It allows us to maybe start camps or partner on things. It allows us to not make the players be on a bus for 12 hours because, if we’ve raised that money, we can put them on a plane.”

After all the hype around the launch, things will start to get more and more real now as the months tick by. On October 1, all owners of the team will vote on the official name. Then will come the branding, the coaching hire, the player and staff recruitment.

The detail and research that will go into all those decisions will undoubtedly be huge. Throughout her conversation with Goal, which can be listened to in full on All of US: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show, Yoch conveys real passion for making this club the best it possibly can be, through good values and hard work.

And while some fan-owned teams end up being sold in the end, Minnesota’s desire is to be a success through the unique and personal means with which they will begin their journey.

“Right now, honestly, we really want to solidly stay as a community club,” Yoch says. “There is language on the WeFunder investment for if we do sell someday, but everybody would have to vote and agree on that.

“Part of this is the pride of saying you own a team, right? We're all really excited about that. I also don't even know how we would all approve someone because we have such a long list of visions and values, I don't know how we'd find somebody that would match that.

“I guess if Beyonce or Megan Rapinoe wanted to buy the team, we would talk about it. But that's about it!”