MINNEAPOLIS — Across the world, soccer clubs act as excuses for travel and landmarks to add to a bucket list. From Anfield to the Camp Nou to La Bombonera, there are plenty of stadiums on a soccer fan’s dream itinerary.
And when Callum and Nicola Carson, two recently married people from Scotland, were planning their honeymoon, their ideal destination fit the time-honored adage of “something new” and “something blue.”
So how did two Scots latch onto the team? The answer goes back to the 1990s, long before the team existed.
“My father used to live in Minneapolis many years ago,” Callum Carson explained to MLSsoccer.com via email. He visited Calgary in the late 1990s for a conference, and met up with some old friends in Minneapolis for a couple of days. He brought me back a Vikings jersey and that was me hooked on all things Minnesota sports from then on.”
A sports journalist himself, Carson credits the increased reach of digital and social media to help inform him about the league. He says he loosely began to follow MLS about “five or six years ago, but really began to properly follow it when the Minnesota United MLS franchise was announced.”
After celebrating their wedding on March 25 (yes, he wore a kilt, he points out), the Carsons planned on honeymooning in the United States. The focal point of this getaway? Minnesota.
“Sports was the anchor of the honeymoon -- and the scheduling gods smiled down on me!” Carson boasted. “We went to the United MLS game on the Saturday (a 4-2 win over Real Salt Lake, the first in club history), the Wild on the Sunday, and the first two games of the Twins season. It was an amazing experience and I went 4-0.”
Of the four games, Carson was most invested in the Loons match. Covering the local Scottish third-division team Livingston FC, the timing was perfect to head to Minnesota to see top-flight soccer. The game-day experience as a whole was a highlight for the pair.
“All the staff and fans we spoke to were brilliant and the Loons fans are so passionate about their team, it was great to see,” Carson said. “The supporters -- Dark Clouds and True North Elite -- added something extra as well and again, an 'ultras' section of that size and nature isn't something you see here outside of the very top teams. I imagine once the new stadium gets built and is more suited to the size of the fan base, then the atmosphere at games will be pretty special.”
As for the squads themselves? "I'd imagine both teams would be able to challenge at the top end of the Scottish Premiership," he said. “By all accounts, MLS is a league on the rise. I can only really see things getting better both for the Loons and the league.”
Farewell Minneapolis. You stole my heart just like I knew you would. We should do this again some time.— Callum Carson (@CallumCarson34) April 7, 2017