Minneapolis City SC Announce Changes and Expansions Ahead of 2019

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NPSL Midwest-North Conference winners and proud Crow enthusiast Minneapolis City made a series of big announcements regarding the club’s staff and levels of play over the last three days.

The first change has moved two-year first team head coach Adam Pribyl to the position of Athletics Director. Pribyl has coached the Crows through their two seasons in the NPSL and leaves his current position with an 18-5-6 record. Pribyl won the Midwest-North conference of the NPSL with the Crows in 2018, famously doing so without losing a regular season match. Needless to say, the move puts a person who knows the club well in an important position, managing staff and resources at both a broad and small scale. Pribyl’s change in position begins a bit of a tradition in the NPSL North, which has existed in its current state for two seasons, in which the conference-winning head coach ceases to coach his side after winning said title.

City’s next move was announced on November 6th as it made public that it would begin fielding a U19 side in 2020, a decision made via an “Overwhelmingly positive member vote” according to the club’s announcement. With a functioning U23 already being fielded in 2018, the U19 side represents the formation of a full scale ladder of development for the club. The club’s announcement, featured on its website, states that “This will give Minneapolis City a complete pathway from high school to college to, potentially, professional soccer for local players. It also gives the club the ability to work with players long enough to have a meaningful impact on their development.” Speaking with Dan Hoedeman, co-founder of Minneapolis City, it was revealed that while the club is still considering its options when it comes to where the U19s will play, the overall goal is very clear. “What is most important to us is competitive level, so expect the team to participate in some elite tournaments and premier friendlies in addition to their training with the players from the U23 and NPSL team.”

Speaking of its U23 side, Minneapolis City also announced a big change for its U23s with the placing of Jeremy Handler as the side’s new head coach. Handler is a major example of experience within the Twin Cities, having worked for Augsburg University and Hamline University as an assistant coach for men’s and women’s soccer teams. Handler also holds a role within Minnesota United FC as a Development Academy Apprentice Coach and has spent a period of time as an assistant coach for one of City’s NPSL rivals, the Minnesota TwinStars. Minneapolis City U23 played its first season as an independent side, playing non-conference matches against the likes of Granite City (UPSL), Bugeaters (UPSL) and the Milwaukee Bavarians U23 team.

In terms of the future for the U23 Crows and how they may or may not expand, Hoedeman had this to say: “We got a lot out of our independent season, primarily because we were able to schedule some top teams. That said, there is value in having a team competing within a league, playing meaningful games and trying to win a title… we are looking at league options for the U23s to match the pro model.”

City’s final announcement was perhaps its biggest, with the Crows announcing that Matt VanBenschoten would become their first team head coach for 2019, a season which will see the team defend its conference title and compete in the U.S. Open Cup. VanBenschoten coached the club’s U23 side for its first year of existence in 2018 and also served as assistant coach for the first team.

 Matt vanBenschoten (far left) - Image courtesy of mplscitysc.com

Matt vanBenschoten (far left) - Image courtesy of mplscitysc.com

On his first team’s new head coach, Hoedeman explained that VanBenschoten’s interpersonal connection to the people he works with was a key factor. “The players like and respect him. Part of why they do is his commitment to them--he puts in a ton of time, so much thought, and a lot of passion into creating a context for each of them to succeed individually and as a collective. In other words, he cares. To have someone like that is critical. We want those guys to succeed not just with us but beyond us as well”.

The club admits in its own announcement that these large-scale changes may very well provide challenges in the short term. “This season, there will be a level of transition, both in the coaching ranks and in the playing ranks.”  But the idea that it will allow the club to become more stable and productive in the long term has been determined to be a risk well worth it. Time will tell how these changes play out, but at the moment it is clear that Minneapolis City is looking for ways to make an already impressive project become something more. Bringing stability and quality to the Twin Cities area when it comes to soccer opportunities will surely be a major achievement for the state and the sport; Minneapolis City seems to have its eye on becoming the source for that change.

- Dominic Bisogno

Lola Vaughn