This summer did not live up to the expectations of Minnesota Kings FC owner Tim Haselberger. Both the men’s team and the first-year women’s team struggled during the season with player attendance and missed the play-offs. However, despite the on-field disappointment, the Minnesota Kings FC organization has been taking large steps forward and is wasting no time improving the quality and size of their youth academy and adding to their training resources and facilities.
At the end their second season playing in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the Kings finished second from the bottom in the Midwest conference with a record of 2-8-2. “It was a terrible year,” said Haselberger, who is also goalkeeper for the Kings. “We had players who viewed the team as more of a rec-team than a professional team.” Problems with attendance and work rate at practices and training plagued the team during the season, but with the season over the Kings are already taking steps to recruit new players and beginning to fix what didn’t work for next year.
A new addition to the Kings organization will be a USL Super 20 League team. In addition to competing on its own in the Super 20 League, the team will serve as a reserve squad for the NPSL team. As the Super 20 team develops and the players improve, the team will provide quality players for future NPSL seasons. This addition to the player pool will also make earning spots on the NPSL team more competitive. If players begin to fall into habits similar to those this past season they will find themselves replaced.
The Kings women’s team finished their first season in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) this summer. While the team may have fared better in the standings than the men’s team by finishing the season 4th in their conference, their season record of 3-6-1 fell short of expectations. A player pool that featured a number of players from the University of Minnesota women’s team that nearly made it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament gave the Kings a strong side, but injuries and other conflicts prevented the team from fielding their best squad. “I think we could have won the league,” said Haselberger, “but we hardly got to play with our full team; next year will be better.”
Next year will also bring a large expansion to the Kings Soccer Academy. After successfully establishing teams at the U5-U13 levels the Kings are adding teams from U14-U18. These new youth teams will be competing in the USL Super Y League. In order to continue to establish the Academy as an elite youth soccer club, there will be only one team per age group for both boys and girls. By competing in the Super Y League the Kings organization will now be able to provide high level competition from around the nation for their players at the youth level and give them a path from U5 soccer directly to professional soccer.
The final move forward for the Kings organization this year is the improved training resources and facilities which will be available to the NPSL and WPSL teams and youth teams. In early October the Kings will open up their soccer dome in St. Michael, Minnesota which will provide a facility where the various Kings teams will train year-round. The Kings have also teamed up with inFit and Anytime Fitness in Albertville to provide their teams with programs focused on nutrition, flexibility, fitness testing, and workout routines inspired by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Tryouts for the new Kings USL Super Y-League U14-U18 teams will take place August 1st and 3rd at STMA Middle School East. For more information visit the Kings Academy web site.