MNUFC Academy Advance to Minnesota Super Cup Final

Super Cup Graphic

The first team may not be playing this weekend, but that doesn’t mean MNUFC isn’t busy competing. The Twos will be playing against San Jose at the National Sports Center and a trophy will be on the line for the U19s a bit closer to Allianz Field. At 7 p.m. CT, the MNUFC Academy U19 team will be playing against Med City FC for the first ever Minnesota Super Cup trophy. What is that, you ask? Hold on, we’re getting there. 

What is the Minnesota Super Cup?

The 2023 iteration of the Minnesota Super Cup is the first of its kind, with plans to continue beyond this year. This independent tournament is designed to pit pre-professional and semi-pro soccer teams from across the state against one another as they compete for the Cup. This tournament is both fun and extremely worthwhile, bringing a new kind of competition to the North Star State.  

It’s difficult to bridge the gap between amateur and professional soccer. Talented players at the end of their college careers either get fast-tracked to MLS or look for a smaller club to provide them with an opportunity. That’s where pre-professional and semi-pro squads come into the picture, and that’s what makes the Super Cup so great.

By providing a platform for young talent to showcase their skills and win silverware in front of their friends and family, the state of Minnesota is elevating the beautiful game. Not only does this tournament grow the soccer culture of the state, but it also gives young players something else to work toward as they pursue their professional careers.  

This year’s field saw entrants from four different national leagues, including UPSL, NPSL, USL2, and MLS NEXT. A total of six clubs were divided into two groups of three, following a typical round-robin group stage setup with a knockout round for the top two teams from each group. For reference, the groups are listed below:

  • Group A: MNUFC U19, Minneapolis City, Duluth FC
  • Group B: Vlora FC, St. Croix Legends, Med City

MNUFC’s Journey, Thus Far

For the MNUFC Academy U19 team, Group A proved to be both competitive and conquerable. A 1-0 win against Minneapolis City SC kicked the tournament off on the right foot, and a 1-1 draw with Duluth proved to be enough to see them through to the knockout stage. A hard-fought semifinal against Vlora FC ended 1-1 after extra time, with the young Loons coming out on top after the penalty shootout. With just the final left to play, Head Coach Fanendo Adi expressed his excitement about the tournament thus far. 

“I think it's been a very, very good experience,” Adi said. “We’re so excited with the whole organization [of the tournament], the guys that even thought of having this kind of competition within the state; I think we must give them credit as well. At the end of the day, our main focus is on development, and this has given us an opportunity to test ourselves against guys that are in college, men that are much older than our players. It has really shown how much we've progressed in the last year. I’m very proud of the boys, because it's tough playing against guys that have experienced a higher level of football than you have, especially within our younger age group.”

As Coach Adi said, many of the opponents the U19s are playing against are at least five years older than even the oldest of MNUFC’s players. Those are five valuable years of development and maturing that the Academy boys are having to make up for, and they’re doing so in style. 

The final is looming, with Med City FC of the NPSL waiting for the U19s. While this tournament has already been a resounding success for Adi’s team, there is still plenty to play for. 

“We go into every game wanting to win,” Adi said about his expectations for Saturday’s match. “The philosophy is to approach every game like it's a serious game, because you have to get used to winning. That being said, whenever results don’t go our way, we should still be proud of how far we’ve come. For us to be in the final is fantastic. I've said a lot about the work we're doing as coaches, as players, as a staff and the organization in general supporting us to get the best out of boys. So whatever happens on Saturday is a win-win for us; there's no loser, there's only victory in this case. Obviously we want to lift the trophy, but we also want to see how far we've progressed, be happy with where we are at the moment, and just go into it like any other game and try to play well.”

With a win on Saturday night, MNUFC would claim its first ever YDP Cup, marking a significant benchmark in the ever-growing story of the club’s Academy. Let’s pack Macalester Stadium on Saturday night and bring that Allianz Field kind of energy to the match. Get your tickets now!