Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — Collin Martin knew he was gay in elementary school. But through high school in Bethesda, Md., and into his collegiate soccer career at Wake Forest, he thought: "I would potentially still have to marry a girl, which was really tough." When Martin signed his first professional contract with D.C. United in 2013, he told himself: "I need to really explore this." He then began to share his sexuality with friends and siblings, followed by a few D.C. United teammates and his parents two years ago.
MINNEAPOLIS—It's quickly becoming "typical" Zack Annexstad. In the season opener Thursday, Aug. 30, the Minnesota Gophers' freshman quarterback put his arm around head coach P.J. Fleck's shoulder after an early fumble and told Fleck, "We're gonna be all right." On Saturday, Sept. 8, after Annexstad helped lead a go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, Fresno State was responding with its own drive down the field and Annexstad again reassured his coach.
MINNEAPOLIS — Major League Soccer has promoted this Thursday-to-Sunday stretch as "rivalry week," but the Saturday night, Aug. 25, Minnesota United-Sporting Kansas City match has been excluded from the league's nine featured games. From a Loons perspective, that's probably best, because all three prior games at Children's Mercy Park have been polar opposites of the hotly contested games that engender the bitterness vital for a matchup to be called a rivalry.
ST. PAUL — Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernando Bob has signed a contract with Minnesota United through the rest of the 2018 season, the club announced Tuesday, Aug. 21. Bob, whose full name is Fernando Paixao de Silva, most recently played in November for Internacional in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The 30-year-old established himself with the Brazilian team Ponte Preta, where he caught the eye of Loons coach Adrian Heath.
MINNEAPOLIS — During rugby lessons in New Zealand physical education classes, a young Michael Boxall and his Kiwi classmates asked their large physical education teacher to run straight at them. The teacher was 6 feet tall, more than 200 pounds and had a background playing rugby for a provincial side within a country infatuated with the sport and its All Blacks national team. "The goal was always to try to bring him down," Boxall said. "He would obviously leave a lot of us on our (butts)."
ST. PAUL — Now that Minnesota United has traded away fan-favorite forward Christian Ramirez, his successor at striker will find himself under the microscope. Angelo Rodriguez, signed to a high-priced Designated Player contract on July 10, will have to prove the Loons front office made the right move and endear himself to supporters heartsick over the Aug. 6 departure of Ramirez, the club's all-time leading scorer and top ambassador since the NASL days.
BLAINE, Minn. — Minnesota United doesn't appear on the cusp of making a transaction before Major League Soccer's summer transfer window closes at midnight Wednesday, Aug. 8. "As of this morning, I don't think anything is happening," United coach Adrian Heath said after the club's outdoor training session at noon Wednesday.
BLAINE, Minn. — Christian Ramirez went to Ethan Finlay's home Monday, Aug. 6, to celebrate the birthday of Finlay and Jerome Thiesson, which they share. It was there that Ramirez received a phone call from Loons sporting director Manny Lagos informing him had been traded to the Los Angeles FC. The players he was surrounded by are his now-former teammates.
BLAINE, Minn.—Minnesota United traded longtime club cornerstone Christian Ramirez to the Los Angeles FC in exchange for up to $1 million on Monday night, Aug. 6, the Loons confirmed. United announced that sending away the highest-scoring player in club history will net Minnesota a guaranteed total of $800,000 from two Major League Soccer funds, with an additional $200,000 to Minnesota if Ramirez meets performance benchmarks with the expansion MLS club across this year and 2019, a source said.
MINNEAPOLIS—Angelo Rodriguez nearly scored his first goal in his debut start in Minnesota United's 2-1 loss to Seattle on Saturday, Aug. 4. The Loons' new designated player had two close calls on headers. He put an Alexi Gomez cross over the crossbar in the 30th minute. On Francisco Calvo's cross in the 43rd, his header bounced off the post. "I come to score goals," Rodriguez said in Spanish through a translator. "Unfortunately, it didn't go in. It hit the post. But that's what I prepare for everyday."