This week’s Spotlight covers Duluth FC, who have won both the NPSL North Conference and the Midwest Regional titles over the last two years. We spoke with owner and founder Father Timothy Sas in order to learn more about the club’s beginnings, notable players, and off the field expectations.
When and how were you founded? What leagues have/do you compete in?
Duluth FC was founded in the winter of 2014/2015, out of a conversation between two friends then inviting a few others to join in, most of us too old to play. 2015 we played in DASL, 2016 in APL, 2017 on in NPSL.
What are the key elements of your badge and what do they mean to the club?
The badge is meant to show off the place where we are: the iconic Duluth Ariel Lift Bridge, the Northland tree line, the great Lake Superior through the anchor, and the state of MN with the North Star.
What is your club short- and long-term goals?
Short term goals are to develop a competitive team for this season and to begin work on an Academy style second team to train young local players. Long-term includes a larger and stronger presence in the Duluth and Twin Ports area both as a sports-organization but also as institution interacting with the community year-round.
Who have been your most prolific or important players in recent seasons?
Without a doubt Kyle Farrar will go down in the history of Duluth FC, in addition to him there would be quite a few others Joe Watt, last year's goalkeepers Jan Hoffelner and Alberto Ciroi. Honestly, there are quite a few others I could name, who have contributed greatly even though their names may not have become as well known.
Do you have specific rivalries; how seriously do you think the club takes those matches?
Whenever Duluth FC and Minneapolis City SC play each other, there seems to be a great deal of excitement and conversation. However, equally important are the matches with MN TwinStars FC and Med City FC. The club takes all the matches seriously, as the preparation is the same for all of them, but indeed the stakes are much higher when we face another club that contents for the top of the table. With respect to attendance, so far Med City FC seem to draw more fans than other matches.
Lower league soccer is full of clubs that want to grow large brands and take on the spotlight, but also full of clubs that are only focused on the results on the pitch. How does Duluth fit into that comparison?
We take competition on the pitch seriously playing the beautiful game with the end goal to win is primary purpose for the existence of a club, and our record so far proves that. But we also try to continuously build our brand in our local area: Duluth, Twin Ports, the Northland. That's really our focus, gaining national brand recognition has never been our focus because we realize we live in an area with fewer than 200k people in a rather isolated part of the country. Moreover, outdoor football is simply not possible in our region for more than half the year; it's simply not something easy to accomplish. However, we have gained a small national following because of our results on the pitch; for that we are thankful.