Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Minnesota Kicks - 1979

Vancouver vs. Minnesota: A look back into a long soccer history

The date was April 24, 1976, Johnnie Taylor’s “Disco Lady” was number 1 on the Billboard 100 charts, and the Minnesota Kicks were about to make their pro debut in the North American Soccer League.

  • BROADCAST: Minnesota United FC vs. Whitecaps FC, 5 p.m. PT on Saturday live on TSN and tsnvancouver.ca

On May 9, Minnesota would make history winning their first pro match in their home opener against San Jose Earthquakes before a crowd of 17,054.

The Kicks would play six seasons in the NASL, folding after the ’81 season. They would qualify for the playoffs in all six years, making the Soccer Bowl championship in ’76, losing to Toronto Blizzard. In 1984, they made a comeback as the Strikers, but it would only last one season as the NASL would close its doors following the conclusion of the season.

Vancouver Whitecaps and Minnesota would play 12 matches in their NASL history, with the ‘Caps victorious on seven occasions, and Minnesota in five. It was a matchup dominated on home turf. Whitecaps sported a perfect 6-0 record at Empire Stadium, and Minnesota went 5-1 at Metropolitan Stadium.

The USL days

The 1990’s brought Minnesota Thunder and the United Soccer League. Minnesota and Vancouver would play 38 times from 1997-2009, with Whitecaps FC owning the all-time record 21W-10L-7D, maybe no bigger than their 2008 playoff matchup which saw Vancouver win on their way to the USL First Division Championship.

In 2010, the Thunder were replaced by NSC Minnesota Stars and would battle WFC four times in USSF D-2 play; Vancouver had a slight edge with a 2-1-1 record. Following the 2010 season, Vancouver would make the jump to the MLS, and in 2013 the NSC Minnesota Stars would rebrand into Minnesota United FC.

Move to MLS

In 2015, MLS announced Minnesota United FC would be the league’s 22nd club, and would begin play at the start of the 2017 season. Minnesota United FC currently play their home matches at TCF Bank Stadium, home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team. In October 2015, the team announced it would build a soccer-specific stadium in Saint Paul, Minnesota with a capacity of 21,500 ready for the 2018 MLS season.

Seven players from the NASL Minnesota United FC made the leap to the MLS club for the 2017 season - Justin Davis, Ibson, Brent Kallman, Ismaila Jome, Christian Ramirez, Kevin Venegas, and Bernardo Añor. Miguel Ibarra played with Minnesota from 2012 to 2015.

On Saturday, Minnesota and Vancouver will rekindle their rivalry at the highest level of soccer in North America for the first time since September 8, 1984.