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Minnesota Thunder Release Players from their Contracts

2009 November 8
by Brian Quarstad

Inside Minnesota Soccer has learned that the Minnesota Thunder have released all players from their contracts last Tuesday, November 3.

Minnesota ThunderAccording to one player who was contracted with the Thunder, the team were forced to release the players as they could no longer pay their contracts and because they are free agents.

As reported here on Friday, the team is currently without a general manager or a coach and owe money to vendors, players, staff and the USL.

IMS is presently working on the story and will bring you more information as soon as possible.

33 Responses
  1. November 8, 2009

    Oh crap. This doesn’t bode well at all. What are the chances that Johnson can find a buyer?

  2. November 8, 2009

    Just devastating news. At least some of the players can land on their feet now.

  3. November 8, 2009

    Ugh, not good. And without a league to be sure of playing in, that doesn’t look good for the future of the club.

  4. Jon M. permalink
    November 8, 2009

    So we don’t have a coach, players, front-office staff, or league to play in.

    I’m going to go ahead and say that this isn’t a good sign.

  5. nathan3e permalink
    November 8, 2009

    Well, at least we have bottomed out. Right?

  6. Aaron Frederickson permalink
    November 8, 2009

    Let’s not throw in the towel. MN lost the Kicks and the Strikers. We cannot afford to lose the Thunder. All MN Thunder supports, this is a call to action!

  7. Aaron Frederickson permalink
    November 8, 2009

    How does this effect the MN Lightning?

  8. November 8, 2009

    My understanding is the Thunder owe the league a considerable amount of money for that team as well. And…if they are owned by the same Dean Johnson and WingField what do you think?

  9. FootballFan permalink
    November 8, 2009

    I hope they fold. The Thunder have been disasterous for MN soccer. Not only have they not played quality ball, nor finished well in the tables, nor progressed even, but the Thunder Academy has been a detrimental impact on Club soccer throughout the region. They have pursued recruiting shamelessly, driven a wedge between themselves and MYSA, and upset the relationship with the National Sports Center. They have had affiliated coaches banned and sanctioned. Good riddance.

  10. Ryan M permalink
    November 8, 2009

    Jon M,

    At least they have a soccer specific stadium to play in!

  11. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 8, 2009

    Way to go out on a limb, Jon!

  12. A Real Football Fan permalink
    November 8, 2009

    FootballFan is a complete idiot.

    You think a winning record is what is beneficial to MN soccer? How about role models for young players? How about participating in a league and allowing MN to host other pro teams, yes, maybe even better pro teams, in our own backyard? How about bringing talented players to MN who are now some of the top coaches in the area (Pez, MA, Sylvester, Chato, Holmes, Wheaton, Tenoff, Friedland, Pederson, Zafer, to name just a few).

    And MTA has had a detrimental impact on soccer in this region? Guess all the European, South American, MLS, etc, etc, clubs who house youth teams only bring down the sport in their respective areas. Guess MTA isn’t allowing some of MN’s best talent to showcase their game on a national stage. Man, that’s horrible for the game and for the players.

    As for the wedge between the Thunder and MYSA, if you think MYSA is the end all be all of youth soccer, well, enough said man.

    It’s clueless yahoos like you that hold the game back. I say good riddance to your kind. We’d be far better off without you.

  13. Aaron Frederickson permalink
    November 8, 2009

    “A Real Football Fan” makes some excellent points (while I do respectfully disagree on others). Losing the MN Thunder is similar to losing any professional franchise. I personally do not recall the days of the Minneapolis Lakers, however, it was a huge loss to b-ball once they left. Folks, I think this is a 8.0 on the sports “Ritcher scale”!!!

    It also sounds like the MN Lightning are a loss as well. That is noteworthy as well.

  14. Key permalink
    November 8, 2009

    Can I buy the goals? Can I buy some old uniforms as well?

  15. Demolition Man permalink
    November 8, 2009

    It just keeps getting worse and worse for us.

  16. November 8, 2009

    I agree with A Real Football Fan. Completely.

    This would be a tremendous loss for the game here in MN. Maybe MYSA and the clubs could step in and help here? With the caveat that MTA dissolves of course. Wouldn’t it be cool to have every registered soccer player in MN feel like they “owned” the pro team?

    Aaron, you run a club, right? Would that float?

    MTA people have no fear. According to your President, there is always Bangu. =) Wonder how the Wings people feel about that??? I get a sense talking with MA – though he didn’t come out and say it and I don’t want to throw him under the bus – there are some ex Wings directors who feel a deep need to prove themselves capable of running an elite program. Can’t believe we haven’t seen something on the MTA website reiterating the separation of the pro team and the academy, as well as trying to mollify some of the west people from the Bangu comment.

  17. MIAC Fan permalink
    November 8, 2009

    Bangu was successful. Bangu Tsunami was successful. The Wings club was successful. The volunteer individuals running these combined youth programs are level headed adults who are well experienced and will see that the youth program/club will continue to be successful no matter happens to the pro team.
    I have it from reliable sources that there was no financial tie between the pro club and youth program.
    To drag a youth program into what’s happening to the Thunder professional team is ridiculous and in my opinion is just more envy and jealousy from those who were never Bangu or Wings fans to begin with. Please get over it. You’re quite transparent.

  18. Anonymous permalink
    November 8, 2009

    MIAC Fan: Just to clear up something you said, there are no volunteers running MTA.
    All Directors and Coaches are paid to run the program.

  19. Mario permalink
    November 8, 2009

    I believe MIAC fan is referring to the MTA board. The voting members of the board are all volunteers.
    I would think all MYSA clubs have paid coaches and coaching directors these days.
    Mario P.

  20. Paul permalink
    November 8, 2009

    It’s mostly true that the Minnesota Thunder pro team and the MTA are separate entities. For tax purposes they are. The MTA got a $25,000 grant from Thunder for the scholarship program to help cover costs for families that can’t afford it. That was the only financial connection. MTA is pretty much self sufficient. Also there were training sessions with Pro players that were very beneficial and fun for the kids. Let me just say something about the MTA. There are some very talented youth players in this organization that are starting to really compete regionally. I just hope that this doesn’t affect that too much. There is a place for MTA and they have their role in this state. There is also a place for MYSA and they have their role. Totally different mindsets.

  21. November 8, 2009

    PJ, love ya man, but you misinterpreted our conversation.

    It would be a true shame to lose our pro team.

  22. November 8, 2009

    I hope you guys have actually read some of the other things I’ve posted on this site over the last year. Time after time I have stated that MTA and the Minnesota Thunder are separate entities. Again, go to the link in this article and read the article posted on Friday which has quotes from Barry Neal, president of MTA. It’s all spelled out there.

    Also, I thank Real Football Fan for his comments. I had about a page worth of stuff that I had written to Football Fan and pulled it before posting. I decided to sit on it for a bit before posting what would have been not near as nice as REAL Football Fan posted.

    I have no problem with those voicing different opinions than mine. I also understand why some clubs are upset about MTA. I have my opinions on that as well. But to make a broad and generalized statement as you did concerning the Thunder and the team being gone as a good things is just plain ignorant. For anyone to be glad that pro soccer is gone from MN is … well, I don’t have words for it.

    Thanks for all those chiming in here. It’s a very sad day in Minnesota.

  23. Aaron Frederickson permalink
    November 8, 2009

    PJ, I am no longer on the BOD of a youth club. However, I think this is a great opportunity to readers of this site and youth clubs to step up and show their support–not really sure how to do that. Thoughts/ideas anyone?

    PS: I would encourage people to read all the recent articles on this/related topics. IMS has done an excellent job in providing readers with information.

  24. November 8, 2009


  25. Demolition Man permalink
    November 9, 2009

    First of all thanks Brian for the constant updates on what’s going on. Without IMS I don’t know where to go in regards to any MN soccer news. With that said and done I still hope things can work out in the end and the Thunder will still be around. Losing the Thunder is quite frankly a big blow to soccer here in MN. Anyone who says otherwise has no right in even calling themselves a soccer fan period…. which yes includes you “Football Fan.”

    On the upside and completely off topic…. I’m happy the LA Galaxy won tonight over Chivas USA. Landon Donovan’s penalty kick that won the game for the Galaxy was beautiful. Looking forward to the LA vs Houston game this Friday.

  26. Chris permalink
    November 9, 2009


    1. Is there an approximate valuation for the Thunder if it were to be sold?

    2. If sold, what is deadline for rejoining USL for next season (presuming owed $$$ taken care of)?

    3. Are we possibly looking at USL-2?

    4. What is the best-case scenario for the Thunder to be playing next year?

    5. What has been the official reaction from the Thunder (i.e. the owner) about Friday’s story?

  27. Jim permalink
    November 9, 2009

    Really appreciate the reportage here, Brian. I’m reloading this site constantly throughout the day in hopes that I’ll know where I’ll be enjoying my afternoons next year.

    I do hope you’re able to get some official reaction from the team and league ownership, as your blog is the only kind of coverage and news those of us that care about this team have access to.

  28. Chris permalink
    November 9, 2009

    Reading Brian’s stories and the corresponding comments is like reading a CaringBridge website for someone with a serious illness.

    Well, someone could organize an effort to try and buy the Thunder along the lines of Ebbsfleet United being bought via a website created by soccer fanatics to pool together to buy a Club where they would have input on significant club decisions. The organization was

    No players, no coach, no league, and significant debt makes the Thunder a sporting property with few assets beyond the name and associated history.

    I think there would be room on the jersey for a small “Inside Minnesota Soccer” patch . . .

    Just some thoughts . . . anyone else have better ideas?

    Otherwise we are just waiting for the obituary.

  29. November 9, 2009

    A co-op similar to the Green Bay Packers could be developed. Season ticket holders would be the primary stock owners with an elected board of director. Players could be given membership rights. I’m sure the value of the team has plummeted so the price would be ideal. Capitalization would be the primary issue as well as unpaid fees to USL. Would the USL welcome the Thunder back?

  30. November 9, 2009

    I don’t think there are enough people who would be interested in paying for the travel costs of a USL-1 team in MN, even if all the players agreed to play for free.

  31. Soccer Boy permalink
    November 9, 2009

    It looks like Tom Petters will be in jail for quite some time; Glen Taylor does not have a clue how to run an organization. You would like the Pohlad family might have a few bucks sitting around. (At least the MN Thunder are already playing in a soccer-specific stadium.) My wife is unemployed, and I only have $100 left in my checking account–payday is not for another week.

    I hear Denny Hecker is looking for new investment opportunites!?!

  32. November 9, 2009


    1) I know approx. what the Thunder owe, but thats off the record. I would HOPE Mr. Johnson would be willing to sell the team because quite frankly, at this point, there is no one that is going to want to do business with him anymore. He has burned all his bridges while talking about stadium plans for the future and funding academy teams. Meanwhile life has been happening the the Thunder have adversely effected peoples lives by lack of payments to individuals, organizations and corporations. I would think that team would be valued at the price of it’s debt at this point. But I’m not a finance guy so what do I know.

    2) The AGM’s are in a week and a half. It would virtually be impossible I would think.

    3 and 4) USL-2 is all east coast based at this point. I would think that if the team were sold, perhaps the USL would allow the team to field a PDL team for a year until they get organized for 2011.

    5) Dean Johnson does not seem to be commenting or calling anyone back that I am aware of. I did notify him of the article that came out on Friday a whole week before, telling him that he had a chance to comment but he never returned the email.

    Thanks to everyone for the kind comments. I have several calls out to people that might be able to shed some light on a few details.

  33. Jeff Wolter permalink
    November 9, 2009


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