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Showing posts from 2017

Radioactive Bees

Someone the other day was talking about what to do when clubs have no graphic design impetus. I can't do anything about that. I have no graphic design skill. That would be my brother, who I have no intention of dragging into #nonleaguelife Having been a founding investor in a team that subsequently went bust, I am gonna concentrate on what I know best. Passionate communication. Fans need to have autonomy from clubs, and symbiosis. I was just pondering the recently announced Dakota Fusion schedule and thought it would be cool to have a nickname for the team that had a separate life from the club and its (to be honest, stilted) official nickname. Maybe it was just my European allergy to teams with nicknames embedded in their formal name. It also doesn't help that Dakota Fusion have actually yet to play a home game in the Dakotas and have no ties to the Dakota people. So, just for the hell of it, I have decided to re-christen this team the Radioactive Bees. Call it a homage. I …

The crows and the Cup

Heard of the US Open Cup? It's the only tournament for which every club or franchise in US soccer can qualify.
I'm not gonna explain that here, read about it on
The rules are so convoluted that Minneapolis City were unceremoniously kicked out of last year's tournament because they moved leagues after they'd started the qualification process. In similarly ridiculous fashion they are back in the qualification process, not through their league placement in the NPSL (a league which offers some automatic qualification spots) but through their founder Stegmans Soccer Club, a much harder qualification path.
US Soccer then made it even harder by scheduling them for an away game in Aurora, IL (they won) and now they play in Rochester, this weekend. 
Unfortunately the Rochester in question is upstate NY rather than 'med city' two hours away in MN.
City/Stegmans are the only amateur team to be trying to qualify in the entire state of Minnesota. If they win thi…

No more wandering for this year

The Fusion headed to an unpromising tie at Detroit City's Keyworth Stadium with the serious threat of a blowout against a team with a longer history of...well most things, than they do.The Fusion squad featuring 10 (1, in Miah Wills did not play) former FC Fargo players finished the regular season 9-0-5 (Wins, draws and losses - since you get more points for a draw than a loss) and scrapped their way into the playoffs in a division against teams with that same advantage in experience.By the way, those ten are:
Steve Harris (Fusion's starting goalie all season), came to the area to play varsity at Jamestown.
Habib Beljulji (also a goalie), came to Moorhead as his family fled Kosovo.
Sunaj Beljulji also played for us. Emra Beljulji played for Fusion but not for us.
Ben Prochniak, West Fargo High and then Jamestown.
Fiaz Musa, came here to play soccer. Born in Khartoum, lived in Des Moines.
Ben Eastwell and George Gauld both have roots in southern England, played at Jamestown.

Detroit v Fargo

I love my arbitrary comparisons when it comes to sport, but let's be honest, there's no real way to compare Detroit and Fargo, or for that matter Hamtramck and Moorhead wherein Saturday playoff opponents Detroit City Football Club and Dakota Fusion Futbol Club games have actually been played.Per Google, it is 836 miles between the home stadia of the two clubs (Jim Gotta Stadium at Moorhead High and Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck respectively)So I'm just gonna reflect on my own experience of Detroit City and their fanatical support as a model.There is this piece I wrote a while backThen, it is often pointed out by the organising members of their main Supporters Group, the Northern Guard that flags don't make themselves and neither are smoke bombs free. Supporters are first and foremost encouraged to support a team in this country, in this sport, by the effort made by clubs to reach out to them and offer a compelling reason to spend three hours in often bare-bones surroun…

Congratulations tinged with sadness

There is a Portuguese word, saudade, which is something akin to sadness over a lost love with an appreciation that that love had existed. Ironically, I learned it from an ex who left me in such a state for a while. It is also used for what are often called Gardens of Remembrance in English. It is the aposite word for how I feel tonight, seeing a Dakota Fusion team led into the NPSL playoffs by a core of players who were products of local high schools or youth soccer clubs in the Red River Valley, or initially invited to play soccer at this level by the ambitious creation of FC Fargo having attended school either here or at Jamestown. These players have their commutes but they also have their roots. The creation of Dakota Fusion largely as an outlet for Tri-City Storm youth/rec club presented FC Fargo with a vastly better resourced local rival which basically finished us off, but after the coup de grace had been delivered, the Fusion offered those players and any fans a continuing o…

What's in a name?

If you were at the game (unlikely) or have listened to the audio I recorded from the Fusion v City game, or even if you didn't - you may be aware of the fact that the Dakota Fusion have been playing in Moorhead, Minnesota so far this year.There are solid financial reasons for being on this side of the Red River. The use of the word Dakota in the team name drew the sarcastic attention of the 'Citizens' so here is my take - as a new immigrant but someone married to a woman with deep roots in the area. No one in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo or Dilworth really cares about the border. There is a road sign when you enter ND on the I-94 that marks the border but from memory no such protestation on the Veterans Memorial Bridge (although both state flags are on their 'sides'). Minot Air Force Base put together a side last year and there were rumors of a Bismarck team planning to play FC Fargo last year as a warm-up to trying to get entry to the US Open Cup but neither actual…

Reclaiming the word "amateur"

NCAA athletes are considered amateur. I experienced a tradition of European sports clubs (particularly in Germany) which were amateur, community multisport clubs with for-profit penthouse suites like VfL Wolfsburg. Amateur is what you are if you do something a) without education in it and b) without getting paid for it. And yet people run scared of the word.To be fair this phenomenon is not unique to the US (The UK, after all, coined "semi-pro" to describe footballers who get paid, but not enough that they don't have to do something else to earn a living)However, the use of 'amateur' is virtually shunned universally in the US, where you can be a short season A ball baseball player and still be paid. I consider NPSL to be amateur. The players are not paid, thus allowing those of college age to continue college ball. The season is even timed to encourage college players. The pro-driven Open Cup not so much, and yet the top AMATEUR club every year gets a nice check …

When the crows shit on your car - On the bleachers for Fusion v Mpls City

First of all, may I just say what an untrammeled pain in the ass Minneapolis City supporters are. The headline of this piece is their favorite chant (to "Oh when the saints go marching in") and it sums them up nicely. I also think that these particular fans could dish it out but not take it. Simultaneously though there were entire sections of singing which I couldn't decypher. Is their capo from Belfast or was it just alcohol? I've never heard a Minnesotan accent like it.

Where it not for the politeness of their chairman (which I'm sure he would deny) and their need to scream loudly just to be heard amongst the competitive sports market of the Cities, I would want them to go somewhere and bother someone else but for now at least (no one knows what non-league life brings next) they are a conference rival for a spot in a national playoff and hopefully some much needed national media coverage for "D4" in the 'North'.
And maybe, just maybe, this Mi…

Back by the rail tracks - in the press box for Dakota Fusion v Med City

A year ago, I was working in the press box, tonight I was a guest as I took a punt on the shelter of the press box in preference for the open seating and was allowed to stay.
That said, none of what follows reflects any bias towards Fusion accept that of someone genuinely happy to see a life footy match after a year.
There are FC Fargo ties to the NPSL North everywhere, including the Sioux Falls Thunder club managed by Amadu Myers
Tonight I returned to the scene of many glories, the (American) football stadium at Moorhead "Senior" High (as it officially says on its doors) for Dakota Fusion vs Med City (both FC)
Let's get the ugly things out of the way first: It was 40 degrees at best and pouring with rain so the 25 hardy souls I head counted in the exposed metal seats of the bleachers at Jim Gotta Stadium was a good turn out, especially given the fact that the Fusion are still developing an identity as a team, and visibility as a club.
The field is artificial turf, wi…

Structure vs separation

As FC Fargo, we set ourselves up as a partner to all the local youth soccer clubs, rather than just a senior team for one. When Dakota Fusion were founded a year later, they took the more direct route of affiliation with Tri-City Storm, including even their color scheme. Nonetheless, Fusion and FCF are/were geographically distant from anything like a pipeline for a league like NPSL where amateur status doesn't just mean "not yet in college" (see Fargo Force for a model of the latter).
The clubs in the Twin Cities metro, on the other hand, have all partnered up with teams from the local amateur MASL structure. Two are direct relatives (Stegmans/Mpls City and VSLT squared) and the TwinStars have joined them in affiliating to Fire SC.
City have also consciously promoted the ideal of local players on their locally owned club, whereas the Fusion are thus far a melting pot of varied roots.
I have no info on Med City or Sioux Falls.
It will be interesting to see if Fargo's…

Echoes of a foregone era

Update: As of April 10th, I will not be updating this post. Before the NPSL season starts up here on May 13th, I will post a fresh list of Red River Green n Gold who are playing elsewhere this season, along with any local school alums I can otherwise identify.
-------I'm not a Dakota Fusion fan. That might take me a while. However, as it says in the title of this blog , I've been supporting North of Normal soccer since 2014 and there is a remarkable amount of continuity in the form of FC Fargo alumni on the announced Fusion roster and the NPSL in particular.My fellow Manchester Red, Archie Suah from Liberia and Philly is with the Midwest Division's Milwaukee Torrent.Louis Grant, who played non-varsity soccer at Minnesota State Moorhead and tried out for us, was the Fusion's first name.I count seven former Mean Green: both our starting (Steve Harris) and backup goalies (Habib Beljulji), his other bros (Emra and Sunaj), Miah Wills, Fiaz Musa, George Gauld.Not a bad count…

Supporting sober

In the course of my life, I've had the pleasure of watching European Champions League, youth tourneys and everything else in between in multiple countries.The US is the only country where I've felt like in order to be acceptable supporter, I have to have drained a few pints of beer or shots of whisky beforehand.The major supporters groups all meet at pubs/bars before they march to the game.Supporting sober is just not advertised as an option.Don't get me wrong, I would love to be draining a bottle of Junkyard beer or shot of Proof whisky but I literally cannot. I could even frame this as an accessibility problem. You see, I can't drink because I take two different medications whose mixture with alcohol would probably hospitalise me. For related reasons, it might be unsafe for me to even participate in the march. I can't be alone. There are legions of disabled footy fans.Am I wrong? Do you have suggestions? Feel free to comment.Thanks,Tim

New Outlooks

In the past few days, the erstwhile owner of FC Fargo, Tim Singleton, has been hired as General Manager of Minnesota TwinStars. I wish him all the luck in the world. Like everyone in the fourth division, he's gonna need it, although it's not clear if he has been hired as GM of the entire club - which has an NPSL side, a women's team and a very successful academy side - or just the NPSL side. At the same time, but insisting that they are unaffiliated with management, the TwinStars has a supporters group - Third Star MN -whose Twitter feed nonetheless shows the spirit of 'Singles'. Elsewhere, our former whipping boys at FC Minneapolis have the unprecedented decision to become a "professional non-league club", playing a schedule of friendlies in perpetuity. What makes this unprecedented is that teams usually play friendlies when their league is on a hiatus or holiday. The only other sports structure I can think of with intentionally long term independent &q…