EAGAN, Minn. (BVM) — Women’s soccer is on the rise in Minnesota, and MN Aurora FC, a pre-professional women’s soccer team, is leading the way.
A project that started in 2020, the community-owned and women-led team is one of the 44 teams across 20 states to join the Women United Soccer (USL W) League in its inaugural season.
The USL W League is a branch of the USL League, which has already built several pre-professional and lower division men’s leagues. The organization is looking to expand this to the women’s side with the USL W League launching in May 2022. Over 220 games are scheduled across the country for the league’s first season.
MN Aurora FC is one of those teams. The idea came to fruition in 2020 with a group of people that recognized there was a gap in bridging the level of college soccer and higher club soccer to the professional leagues.
Andréa Carroll Franck was one of them. She is a board member and one of the co-founders of the team.
“There is high-quality women’s soccer here, but there aren’t that many choices,” she said. “You should be able to have choices as a player.”
And that was the starting point for building this team. To provide another choice for players to pick from to play high-level soccer.
The team has been received well by the community as 3,080 people invested during their community investment campaign. These investors are everywhere, located across 48 states and eight different countries.
“The Twin Cities has a robust, soccer-loving community,” Carroll-Franck said. “We are shockingly surprised and honored to have all the interest and support. It’s been really cool.”
MN Aurora FC will practice and play at TCO Stadium in Eagan, Minnesota, which is also the practice facility for the Minnesota Vikings. Practices start May 9.
Jelena Zbiljic is excited to start. She is a second-year defender playing at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a Minnesota native.
“I really want to continue my career after college. It’s a big reason why I chose MN Aurora FC.” Zbiljic said. “I’m excited to represent my home state.”
Zbiljic played for the Chicago Red Stars Reserves in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) last summer. She decided to play for MN Aurora FC because of the community aspect.
“The coaches are big on helping us to grow in whatever we need,” she said. “They want to help as people, not just players.”
Zbiljic also mentioned that she received texts from old high school coaches when her signing was announced. She also loves that the team is women-led.
“MN Aurora FC seems very connected and community-based,” she said. “I’ve never been a part of a team like that, and having the community support is what drove me to come here.”
Zbiljic is one of 24 players that have signed to the team so far. Among the signed players are notable names like Makenzie Langdok who plays for the University of Minnesota and Sarah Fuller who played for Vanderbilt University and kicked for their football team.
“I’m excited for the season to start,” Carroll-Franck said. “We have done what we set out to do.”