Soccer match turnout puts MLS spotlight on Minn.

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota and its love for soccer was on display at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday.

Saturday's match featured Manchester City from England's Premier League and Olympiakos from the Superleague Greece, but the match and the more than 33,000 fans in attendance also got the attention of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings' ownership is currently working hard to prove that Minnesota is ready for the other football. When the Vikings won approval for a new $1 billion football stadium, the team's owner landed a five-year exclusive rights agreement to try to bring a Major League Soccer team to the new stadium.

With MLS seeking to expand its 19-team league, Saturday's showcase between was a great test of the feasibility of Minnesota scoring a big-time soccer team of its own.

"We drove like three hours. We're from rural Minnesota," one soccer fan said.

Those who were attending the game seemed to fully understand the big picture.

"Hopefully today is an example of what would happen if there was a quality soccer team here in the state," said soccer fan Nick Wessinger.

The two powerhouse soccer clubs are playing in Minnesota as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup Tournament.

"Unbelievable European squads, (it's a) chance to see them play soccer in the state of Minnesota. It is a great opportunity," one fan said.

Minnesota has not had a big time professional soccer team since 1984 when the Minnesota Kicks played at Metropolitan Stadium. Thirty years later, that is something fans and two different groups of investors, including the Vikings, want to see changed.

"This is a culmination of a lot of hard work to bring this match to Minnesota," said Vikings Executive Vice President Lester Bagley.

He said the match will definitely be part of the future pitch to bring an MLS team to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.


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