Photos: Snow can't stop Major League Soccer launch -- or its fans


More than 35,000 fans showed up at the opener.
1 Despite the inauspicious start and blustery weather, more than 35,000 fans showed up at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium to cheer the team on. 
Minnesota United goal keeper Patrick McLain during team warm-ups.
2 Minnesota United goal keeper Patrick McLain during team warm-ups before the home opener. 
Atlanta United's Josef Martinez scored just 2 minutes in.
3 The home team cheers on the Loons in spite of the score. Atlanta United's Josef Martinez scored just 2 minutes in, starting what would become a hat trick for him and a rout for the visiting team. 
Taking shelter from the snow at TCF Bank Stadium.
4 Fans take shelter from the snow in the concourses at TCF Bank Stadium. 
Germaine Taylor grimaces as he removes his jacket before the home opener.
5 Minnesota United player Germaine Taylor grimaces as he removes his jacket at TCF Bank Stadium. 
Loons home opener in the snow.
6 Carol Ottoson of Prior Lake was at the stadium along with her grandsons, ages 9 and 6. She's followed all the iterations of pro soccer in the Twin Cities, beginning in the late 1970s. Ottoson said youth leagues have built a knowledgable fan base. "When we had Kicks tickets 40 years ago, people would 'ooh' and 'aah' at a header. Now we understand soccer more. It's an exciting game. Even if it's scoreless, it's exciting to watch when you know what's going on," Ottoson said. 
Minnesota United and Atlanta United FC face off in the snow.
7 Minnesota United and Atlanta United FC face off in the snow. Minnesota's single goal came from a penalty kick by Kevin Molino. 
Fans brought 'True North' flags.
8 Like teams elsewhere on the globe, Minnesota United has an organized club of hard core fans — the True North Elite, with their own section of seats behind the goal. 
Minnesota United's Johan Venegas on the attack.
9 Minnesota United's Johan Venegas on the attack during the team's home opener. 
Leaf blowers were used to keep snow off the turf.
10 Even though the field is heated, a half dozen people from the grounds crew periodically zipped out with leaf blowers to blast snow away from the field lines and goal area. 
35,000 fans came out to support Minnesota United in their home opener.
11 Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire said he is hopeful things will turn around over the next 32 games, and that he's heartened by the dedication of the crowd. "People were obviously into it, and I think it was great to see a throng like that filling the lower bowl totally and up into the upper bowl on a first game, and more importantly on a game when the temperature was in the 20s and it was snowing." 
Minnesota United and Atlanta United FC players jostle for position.
12 Players jostle for position in anticipation of a corner kick. 
The home opener drew many young adults.
13 The home opener drew many young adults who just a decade ago were dragging home their muddy cleats in their parents' minivans. Gustavo Arias, 24, said he's glad to see the highest level of the game arrive in the Twin Cities. "I grew up playing soccer at the youth levels and through high school," he said. "A lot of different people come together and love the sport, which is great." 
Fans bundled up in Loons gear.
14 Minnesota United will play the rest of this season and at least part of next at the U, while its $150 million, 20,000-seat stadium is built in St. Paul near I-94 and Snelling Avenue. 
Minnesota United fans displayed their support and spirit in full regalia.
15 Minnesota United fans display their support and spirit in full regalia. 
Goalkeeper John Alvbage is carried from the game on a stretcher.
16 Near the end of the match, goalie John Alvbage left the field on a stretcher after cutting his knee in a collision. 
Johan Venegas falls in pain during the home opener.
17 Johan Venegas falls in pain. The 6-1 loss followed a 5-1 defeat to the Timbers on March 3 in Portland. At a postgame news conference Minnesota coach Adrian Heath made no excuses for his team's performance, and apologized to fans. "Eleven goals conceded. I've not had that before in my career. That's something we'll have to keep working on," Heath said. "Whether we look at the collective or the individual, we have to make some changes, because obviously today and last week wasn't good enough."