Minnesota Stars tie San Antonio 0-0; Soccer fans still praying for a buyer to emerge
The Minnesota Stars hit gridlock with a scoreless game against the Scorpions in Blaine Saturday night, meaning the two-leg semifinal series will be decided next weekend in San Antonio.
Photo: Courtesy Andy Wattenhofer. The Dark Cloud supporting the Stars with song and flares.
In the meantime, Stars fans are praying the physical, but ultimately anti-climactic game wasn't the last they'll ever see at home.
The Stars are in an uncomfortable state of ownership limbo, and the clock is ticking. In 2011, when the National American Soccer League took ownership of the financially troubled franchise, the intent was to build up the team and find a buyer.
The first half of the plan was accomplished last year, when the Stars won the NASL championship. But it's the second part that has proved tricky to execute, especially now that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has a monopoly on bringing in a Major League Soccer team as part of the stadium deal, making the second-division team less attractive.
In an interview with Inside MN Soccer last month, outgoing-NASL Commissioner David Downs said two parties had "expressed interest" in buying the team. The news brought some hope to fans, but at this point, no deal has been inked.
"Getting these two prospective owners shows the league, and kind of shows the area, that people are interested in this, it's just we need more time," says Wes Burdine, member of grass-roots soccer advocacy group MLS4MN. "Division-2 soccer is a bizarre world, and trying to make it work is a difficult thing that takes a long time."
The fate of the franchise will be decided on October 28th at the league's Board of Governor's meeting. Until then, says Burdine, it's a waiting game for fans. "The hardcore supporters are pretty desperate at this point."
If Saturday night's game is any indication, there's going to be plenty of broken hearts here in Minnesota if the league doesn't find a way to keep the team. The Dark Clouds -- the Stars' most vocal core of fans -- were in full force, chanting, banging drums, and waving dozens of flares in support of the team. We caught video of what it looked like right after Stars CEO Djorn Buchholz sang the National Anthem (keep your eye on the bleachers):
And here's footage from a little closer to the action, courtesy Andy Wattenhofer:
If the Stars win against the Scorpions next Sunday, you'll at the very least still be able to catch them at home one more time in two weeks for the finals.