Today Minnesota United and Special Olympics MN announced that they have selected eleven athletes to be the first official Minnesota United Unified Team. The athletes will sign special two-match contracts, and will represent Minnesota United in two matches against Houston Dynamo’s Unified team.
When Minnesota United hosts the Houston Dynamo on July 19, the two unified squads will face off immediately following the first team match. Special Olympics athletes and partners will play under the lights at TCF Bank Stadium. On September 30, the eleven athletes will represent Minnesota United again as they travel with the first team to Houston to play the Houston Dynamo Unified squad. Both matches will culminate in a commemorative medal ceremony for the athletes.
The team selection was a surprise to the athletes last week, who were gathered for an afternoon meeting when the team coach played a video made by MNUFC midfielder Sam Cronin and sideline reporter Jamie Watson announcing that they had been chosen as the Minnesota United Unified soccer team.
Unified Sports promote social inclusion and acceptance by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities. Together, athletes and partners improve their physical fitness, sharpen their skills, challenge the competition and help overcome prejudices about intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics launched their Unified Soccer program this year, putting together teams of athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities. They kicked off the program with a tournament in April that featured 10 teams from six different schools. Watson and play-by-play commentator Callum Williams participated in warm-up drills and kicked off the opening ceremonies at the event.
The Minnesota United Unified Team athletes will attend first-team practice on May 24, sign their official team contracts, tour the facility and meet Sporting Director Manny Lagos and first-team players.
Join MNUFC for Pride Night as Minnesota United takes on Orlando City SC on Saturday, May 27 at TCF Bank Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. and single match tickets are still available. It’s not too late to join the Itasca Society. Fewer than 500 spots remain in this exclusive club as we rapidly approach the inaugural season limit of 11,842 members — one for every lake in Minnesota. A portion of all proceeds from these season tickets are donated to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Loon Monitoring program. Both season and single match tickets are available now at MNUFC.COM or by calling 763.4SOCCER.