Samantha Solberg’s alarm went off as the sun came up on August 26, 2017.
It was an early wake-up call for the Dark Clouds member and other supporters in neighborhoods around the Twin Cities headed to Chicago for the Loons’ twelfth road game of the season. Despite the long drive that lay ahead and the team’s lack of road success up to that point, the 250-plus fans traveling by bus were ready to rock and roll, spirits high.
“The Minnesota United supporters are truly my community,” said Solberg, the Dark Clouds’ Secretary. “Being able to support the team with them is such a special and important party of my life. I can’t image being without these people.”
After seven hours of singing, drinking, chanting (and some drinking), the bus arrived at Toyota Park and the supporters headed straight for the Chicago Fire tailgate.
“The fans there were incredibly welcoming,” said Solberg. “It was great to connect with others who had flown or driven on their own down to Chicago, and meet up with Chicago-based MNUFC supporters. The tailgate felt like a great party!”
The party didn’t stop as the Loons faithful made their way into the stadium, packing into a slim corner of the stadium, but determined to bring the noise.
“It was an awesome experience to be among – literally – hundreds of traveling MNUFC fans,” said Solberg. “It honestly felt a bit like a home match with so many of us making noise.”
By the half, MNUFC was on top 2-0 thanks to a brace of goals from the team’s #1 SuperDraft pick, Abu Danladi. It wasn’t a position the Loons were accustomed to being in on the road, and the supporters were determined to make it stick.
“Chanting and cheering alongside the Dark Clouds, True North Elite and other Minnesota United fans was electrifying, and nothing feels quite as good as celebrating an away goal,” said Solberg. “At the half, I distinctly remember running up to my friend, Abe Opoti, throwing my arms around him, yelling ‘WE’RE WINNING,’ and laughing with joy. It was all just sheer joy.”
Although the Fire got a goal back in the second half, it was only a consolation. As the ref blew full-time on the team’s first away win of the year, “Wonderwall” filled Toyota Park — not from the speakers, but straight from the throats of the jubilant supporters who had traveled so far to be there.
The feeling endured as the group left the stadium, stopping just outside the gates of Toyota Park to form a circle of celebration before getting back on the bus for the long drive back.
“We stood with our arms around one another, swaying and belting ‘Wonderwall,’ again,” said Solberg. “It was a moment that really brought us all together. It was magic.”
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