Turbo Sports FC and the New Look of the UPSL in Minnesota

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There are few things that lower league soccer does more than change. Yet another example of this took place recently when the UPSL announced a realignment of its clubs in the upper Midwest. The move saw the likes of Milwaukee Bavarians, Madison 56ers, and Croatian Eagles leaving a UPSL conference they had brutally dominated the year before. This has left the Minnesotan clubs from last year, FC Minneapolis and Granite City, with their own conference that is set to be home to five new members of the UPSL.

One of those new teams is Turbo Sports FC, a Minneapolis-based club founded in 2017 that had previously played one season in the Minnesotan Amateur Soccer League (MASL)’s Division 4. The MASL is a widely respected league in Minnesota, featuring NPSL reserve squads and several clubs that are often rumored as having a chance of being the next big NPSL club, like Dynamo FC and FC Minnesota. Turbo Sports debut season in the MASL’s bottom division ended with a 6-3-7 record and a reasonable midtable finish. Club owner Ceephas Dean said that the club will likely not pursue playing in both the MASL and the UPSL this year, despite some clubs using the MASL as a home for a second team. “As of now we aren’t sure but the plan in the future is to field a team in the MASL. As of this season we will just be having 1 team”.

On why Turbo chose the UPSL as its new home, Dean had this to say, “The idea of playing in a national league is what stood out as well as the way the league is structured as well as the growth of the league it can open doors for players & the club.” Asked about the club’s key goals going into this major transition, Dean gave five core points, “The biggest to be successful during the season, grow the club, continue to do the right things, maintain a good level of play, [and] start doing community activities.” 

Image courtesy of Turbo Sports FC

Image courtesy of Turbo Sports FC

One of the more intriguing aspects of the conference realignment is that it makes the conference far harder to predict. Bavarians won the Midwest-North with a perfect 10-0-0 record, with the two newer Minnesotan teams collecting only 7 total points across their combined 20 games. With the older Wisconsin clubs split from the Minnesotan wave of additions, it is quite possible any of the teams involved in the new Midwest-West conference will do well, though the clubs with previous UPSL experience, especially Granite City who earned 6 of those 7 points, will have an advantage. Dean had this to say on his club’s entrance into the new-look conference. “The conference does have good teams in it, so we will see how it all pans out for us but hoping to finish strong and in the top half as of now this conference is up for grabs and we are going to battle every game and give it our all.”

While the move of Bavarians and Croatian Eagles to a conference where they can face the likes of Union Dubuque and Dekalb County will make for one of the league’s highlight conferences, where some of its best clubs will face off, the shifts in Minnesota are equally important for the league. The UPSL earned some strange looks from the vibrant Minnesota lower league scene when its two Minnesotan clubs turned out to struggle so strongly in 2018. Allowing the two returning Minnesotan clubs, four new Minnesotan clubs, and the first South Dakotan club in the league to play one another and develop talent through an actively competitive division.

Turbo’s most recent results, all from friendlies, show the club has clear aims to prepare to face the sort of clubs that populate its region of the UPSL. These include a 2-2 draw with FC Minneapolis, a 3-2 win against Dynamo FC, who were recently promoted to MASL’s Division 2, and a 5-1 win over soon-to-be WPASL side Hayward United.

If nothing else, we are witnessing an immense growth in Minnesota’s presence at the national league level, with the NPSL North continuing to harbor a number of the state’s top clubs and the UPSL suddenly home to six instead of the two it held in 2018.

- Dominic Bisogno