Minnesota United announced today the club has signed MNUFC2 midfielder Emmanuel Iwe to a one-year Major League Soccer contract, with club options for 2024, 2025 and 2026. This makes Iwe the very first MNUFC2 player to sign a first-team deal with the Loons.
“The first time that we saw [Emmanuel] Iwe, the first thing that stood out was his pace – he’s incredibly athletic, he’s really quick. He’s got a good left foot, he puts some decent crosses in and he looked like he had an eye for a goal. So then, we give him the opportunity. He comes in and starts to train with us, did preseason with us and did well. I think we always recognized that there was a lot of potential there and I think he started to realize some of that potential,” said Minnesota United Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We feel as though now he’s put himself in a spot where he’s deserved this opportunity to have an MLS contract, come onto the roster, and now let’s go from here. This is just the beginning. Now it’s up to him to try and get better every single day to make his way into the squad. It means a lot to people to see local kids put the [club] shirt on, and hopefully he can be a catalyst for some of these other local guys to go, ‘Hey, we can do it. We’re from here, we can play in MLS for Minnesota United.’”
Iwe – born in Lagos, Nigeria before moving Stateside at a young age – was the first Minnesota-local to be signed by MNUFC2, following an open tryout with the club in January of 2022. Prior to joining MNUFC2, Iwe played a season at St. Cloud State University in 2021. Before his collegiate season with the Huskies, the midfielder spent a short spell with Costa Rican side Saprissa from 2019 through the first months of 2020. Iwe graduated from St. Louis Park High School in 2019. In his youth, starting at age six, he played for Joy of the People, a local Saint Paul, Minnesota soccer academy.
During the 2022 campaign with MNUFC2, Iwe made 16 appearances, 13 starts, scored two goals and provided two assists before his season ended in August due to a ligament tear on his right foot. Additionally, Iwe made a substitute appearance for MNUFC in the international friendly against Everton FC in July 2022, his debut appearance with the first team. So far in 2023 MLS NEXT Pro action, the Saint Louis Park local has made 11 game appearances, all starts, and has scored four goals to-date in almost 800 minutes played.
“It’s a credit to [Emmanuel] for putting himself out there in the first place. Coming to an open tryout is never easy and then taking the opportunities that have come his way. The first team staff and Mark Watson [MNUFC Technical Director] saw him in that first tryout and have continued to be invested in his progress, too, which is a testament to the opportunity which they have here,” said MNUFC2 Head Coach Cameron Knowles. “The opportunity that’s here is really real and the first team staff have been really engaged in adding that value to it, that there is a real value to being with the second team. We’re really grateful that one, the opportunities are there for these players and two, proud of the guys that take them like Manny [Emmanuel Iwe]. It’s great for him that he’s been able to take this next step, and it’s the beginning of the next phase of his career, which is really exciting.”
The Minnesota midfielder was signed to a Short-Term Agreement with the first team in March and entered the Matchday 4 contest against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the 66th minute as a substitute, where he notably made his Major League Soccer debut appearance in front of his home crowd at Allianz Field. Iwe then signed second and third Short-Term Agreements with MNUFC in April ahead of matches at St. Louis CITY SC and Detroit City FC. He appeared in the U.S. Open Cup fixture against Detroit and scored his first Minnesota United first-team goal in the 63rd minute. He then signed another Short-Term Agreement and made a substitute appearance on the road against CF Montreal on June 12.
TRANSACTION: Minnesota United sign MNUFC2 midfielder Emmanuel Iwe to a one-year Major League Soccer contract, with club options for 2024, 2025 and 2026.
Date of birth: 09/12/2000 (22 years old)
Weight: 152 lbs
Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria