Minneapolis City SC Reflects on Unbeaten Streak

By Minneapolis City SC

Following their NPSL regular season unbeaten streak being snapped by Duluth FC, Minneapolis
City SC, also known as MPLS City, is staying positive and remain proud of their 19-match
unbeaten streak, especially the consistency shown by the players during the stretch.

“In the NPSL it can be a challenge when you’re rotating guys year to year, but that was one of
the things that helped us, we had consistent guys come back for four or five years,” MPLS City
SC head coach Matt VanBenschoten said. “To have that comradery where we’re not trying to re-
invent the wheel every year was a big part of it, because in 2017, we didn’t overachieve, but in
2018 we really hit the ground running and we were really able to get some good results.”

Despite the unbeaten streak being snapped, undefeated will remain a major part of the MPLS
City going forward, and is a word, slogan, and hashtag that means much more than words on a
screen. The word gained significance with MPLS City FC following their disqualification from
the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup following an opening round victory.

What started out as a mere hashtag and way to poke fun at an unfortunate situation turned into
much more than that, however. Later in 2017, an MPLS City intern utilized the hashtag as a
rallying cry for his fight with cancer, and thankfully, as a celebration following his defeat of
cancer. The word now will forever hold significance to the club and to the supporters.

“He picked up the hashtag on social media and lots of people started sending in pictures of them
in their shirts, using the hashtag, so what started out as a joke became something much bigger
than soccer,” VanBenschoten said. “Then last year we actually went undefeated in the NPSL
regular season and that just cemented the folklore even more in some ways, but to have such a
good human interest story go along with the word is so special.”

Social media has become a major point in the identity of MPLS City, to the point where
VanBenschoten referred to the club as “Twitter FC.” The club has poked fun at kit design
explanations, badges, and held a moment of silence for the passing of their unofficial mascot,
Tardar Sauce, aka Grumpy Cat. While the identity may seem like it’s only fun and games, the
personality of the club is of the upmost importance to them.

“It’s everything to us,” VanBenschoten said. “We understand that it’s soccer, we’re very
competitive, want to win, but who we are as a club that’s community-based, not afraid to have
some fun on and off the field, we’re fine taking on the moniker Twitter FC because it’s what we
do, so it’s gigantic to who we are, because if we lose that, we lose our identity.”

The personality and set-up of the club isn’t just a plus for the club and their supporters, but it’s a
major factor in obtaining some great talent from across the country, as exemplified by midfielder
Max Stiegwardt and his MPLS City recruiting efforts.

“I played college in South Florida, I had guys ask me what I’m doing over the summer, I tell
them about MPLS City and they’ve heard of it through Twitter or Instagram,” Stiegwardt said.
“The word spreads, and especially if you’re successful, it’s going to bring guys in.”

For Aaron Olson, the captain recognizes the importance of the personality of the club off the
field, as well as on the field.

“It’s incredibly important, it’s a way we can gain traction with the youth and start moving on to
bigger and better things, and that’s something that the leadership of the club has worked hard to
implement and make a reality,” Olson said. “But it doesn’t mean as much to the players
compared to the overall mentality of the players. We have a huge roster, and there are no
cliques, we have had a lot of injuries and there’s been a next-man-up mentality, we feel confident
in everybody else’s ability to maintain the high level that we expect, so I think that’s truly the
type of reputation and team personality that the leadership has been able to garner and the
player’s have been able to latch onto.”

From here on out, MPLS City still has all of their goals for the season in the front view.

“Right now our goal is just to win the conference,” Stiegwardt said. “But for us it’s all about the
next game up, one game at a time.”

“We just (need to) keep going forward…last year having that success I think was really
beneficial for us because in 2017 we underachieved it felt like we still had this monkey on our
back, I’ve seen how we’re training and how we’re responding and there’s a lot more resiliency,”
VanBenschoten said.

That resiliency was exemplified in their midweek match-up with Med City FC, where MPLS
City recovered from surrendering an early penalty and battled back to earn the draw. The result
showed that MPLS City isn’t going to back down, and they’re looking to start another unbeaten
streak from here on out. Regardless of what happens on the scoreboard, however, undefeated
will remain a historic word for the club.

“The word was born out of a tough situation and then turned into something really positive, and
it was entirely off the field,” Olson said. “No matter what happens, we’re going to remain
undefeated because we have forged a hard earned, hard to find, ground floor connection with the
community that will hopefully maintain a lasting imprint for years to come.”

Photo Credit: Daniel Mick

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