Latest News

Storylines | A History of Excellence

Ball on stand

Minnesota United are ready to run it back at Allianz Field this weekend for their first consecutive home games of 2024. Saturday’s match against the Houston Dynamo marks yet another challenging test for the Black and Blue, but after such an impressive start to the season, the boys should believe that they can go toe-to-toe with any team in this league.

At this weekend’s game, though, we’ll be celebrating more than just a good soccer contest. MNUFC is proud to host its first-ever Black Excellence Game in club history, making for a special occasion to recognize the incredible contributions that Black people have made and continue to make to both our sport and the greater community as a whole.

As we prepare to celebrate these leaders, we wanted to use this week’s edition of Storylines to look back at the history and impact of some of Minnesota soccer’s most notable figures. From the early days in the NASL to the 1999 Women’s World Cup and all the way through to our current roster, soccer in our state has benefited immensely from the contributions of so many Black individuals, inspiring generations of players and pushing the sport forward in meaningful ways.

Patrick Ntsoelengoe

When the Minnesota Kicks brought professional soccer to the North Star State in 1976, they provided a platform for exceptional players to show the Twin Cities what the game was all about. Few players did that better than Patrick Ntsoelengoe, who scored 50 goals in 155 games for the club. He also played for Johannesburg’s Kaizer Chiefs throughout his time with the Kicks, alternating during local offseasons. No matter the time of year, this guy was playing the sport he loved.

The South African midfielder donned the orange, blue, and white in all six seasons that the team played in the NASL and continued his career in North America even after the team folded in 1981. He went on to rack up 94 goals in 11 total seasons, making him the seventh-leading scorer in NASL history and earning himself a place in the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2003.

Unfortunately, South Africa was banned from international soccer during his career, and Ntsoelengoe never got the chance to represent his country on the pitch. Despite that, his talent and impact on the game will be remembered for years to come. Though he wasn’t a Minnesota native, he was one of the first real stars to be a part of Minnesota soccer and a true legend in his own right.

Briana Scurry

Briana Scurry

Two decades after Ntsoelengoe made waves in the men’s game, Minneapolis native Briana Scurry brought Minnesota soccer back into the limelight. She tended the net for the USWNT from 1994 to 2008, making 175 appearances and making the roster for seven major tournaments. She ended her career as a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a World Cup champion, and is best known for her crucial penalty save against China in the 1999 World Cup Final.

Scurry became a founding member of the Atlanta Beat of the Women’s United Soccer Association in 2001. Neither the club, nor the league, are in operation today, but they were part of a significant shift in the trajectory of the women’s game. The WUSA was the first women’s soccer league in the world in which every player was paid as a professional, and though they only operated from 2000-03, they laid the groundwork for similar leagues across the world.

Following her on-field career, Scurry has continued to help grow the game. She spent time as an assistant coach with the Washington Spirit as well as in various roles in club administration. Her work in broadcasting has provided a valuable voice in the presentation of the women’s game, including commentating during the 2011 World Cup and the 2022 Concacaf W Championship. Scurry’s contributions to the game have been nothing short of transformative and groundbreaking.

Tony Sanneh

Tony Sanneh

Across the river in Saint Paul, Tony Sanneh spent his career proving that people from the Twin Cities have what it takes to make it at the highest level of the sport. After growing up playing for the St. Paul Blackhawks and featuring for his hometown Minnesota Thunder, Sanneh went on to play in the UEFA Champions League with Hertha BSC, spending six years in Germany before returning to the States.

Sanneh’s MLS career saw him earn minutes for five different teams, starting with DC United before his move to Europe and wrapping up with Columbus, Chicago, Colorado, and the Galaxy before his retirement following the 2009 season. He made 43 appearances with the national team between 1997 and 2005, scoring three goals and playing every minute at the 2002 World Cup in Korea.

Since hanging up his boots, Sanneh has become a pillar of community development through the Sanneh Foundation. This non-profit organization has made it their mission to empower youth through their support of educational attainment, improve lives with programs that strengthen physical health and social and emotional development, and unite communities by advancing diversity, equity, and community well-being. On and off the field of play, his impact on the Twin Cities community has been incredibly meaningful.

The influence each of these individuals has had on the sport of soccer in our home state and abroad is both commendable and impactful. They are the root of so much positive change in both the game itself and the community we live in, and their stories deserve to be remembered and spoken about with every step we take into the future. By showing the world just how excellent they are, they inspired dreamers and laid the groundwork for a better future, on and off the field. Join us this weekend to not only cheer your Loons on to victory against the Dynamo, but to honor this history of Black excellence that continues to make the entire state a better place to live and grow.


Minnesota United FC vs. Houston Dynamo FC

Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota

04.13.2024 | MLS Game #7

7:30 p.m. CT (Watch on MLS Season Pass)