Minnesota Thunder Academy – Twin Cities Soccer History

Founded in 2008 with the merger of two elite Minnesota youth clubs, the Minnesota Thunder Academy was created as a model for player development based on the structure of successful European and South American academies. MTA continues to be the lasting legacy of the former professional club, the Minnesota Thunder. MTA has developed more players that compete at the collegiate, professional, and national team level than any other club in the Upper Midwest.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, MTA provides advanced training opportunities in addition to elite development programs for ages 6-19. Approximately 600 players participate in MTA programming each year. The goal of MTA continues to be promoting the game and raising the standard of youth soccer in the state of Minnesota.

U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA)

After an extensive review process, the Minnesota Thunder Academy boys program was selected to join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy in 2010. Aside from providing clubs with a soccer-centric environment, the Academy program also provides a platform to systematically improve the player identification and development processes. Over half of the Academy matches are attended by a national team scout, resulting in a comprehensive system to evaluate player, coach and referee talent.

Elite Clubs National League (ECNL)

In 2009, the Minnesota Thunder Academy girls program was announced as an inaugural member club of the ECNL. The ECNL was founded by forward-thinking Directors of Coaching across the country who saw a need for change in and special commitment to improving the daily environment for American elite female youth soccer players. These Directors came together and collaborated to build what would become the top female youth development platform in the world. The grass roots leadership and cooperation was unprecedented in American youth soccer, and the ECNL continues to be the most progressive and innovative development platform in the country.

  • Minneapolis US Soccer Academy
  • Minnesota ECNL Minneapolis
  • Minnesota Nike Premier Soccer Club

Minnesota Thunder

In June of 2008, the Minnesota Thunder professional soccer team took a bold new step to help reshape the soccer landscape and make Minnesota a national innovator in soccer development. After months of extensive dialogue and collaborative research, the Thunder combined two of the elite soccer clubs in Minnesota under the Thunder banner to add a new dimension to youth soccer in the state.

With the inclusion of Bangu Tsunami FC and Wings SC, the Thunder Academy was formed with over 90 competitive teams forming one of the largest clubs in the Midwest. Together the two elite clubs had already produced numerous State Cup champions, Regional champions, and National Championship qualifiers.

In 2010, Minnesota said goodbye to the Minnesota Thunder professional soccer team after 20 years of operation. Minnesota Thunder Academy, which was always a separate entity, continued operations as a non-profit 501(c)(3) youth soccer club.

Minnesota Thunder

Wings S.C.

Based in Plymouth, Minnesota, the Wings S.C. focused on providing opportunities for growth for all players, without requiring children to leave their neighborhood teams at an early age or lose the community programming that the clubs found to be successful. Wings S.C. programs sought to bring together Minnesota’s top youth and professional coaching staffs, providing additional training opportunities for all players, and enhancing those programs that have a proven track record of success.

In 2008, Wings S.C. joined Bangu Tsunami F.C. in a partnership with the Minnesota Thunder to form the Minnesota Thunder Academy.

Wings Soccer Club - Plymouth MN

Bangu F.C.

  • Original Bangu FC Badge - 1988
  • Bangu FC 1988 Pikes Peak
  • 1989 Girls Bangu FC
  • Bangu FC 1989 Minnesota
  • Bangu Tsunami FC

Bangu F.C. was formed in 1988 as an alternative for young soccer players who sought an advanced approach to skill development and training opportunities over the entire calendar year. The concept immediately caught on with players who could not find what they were looking for in their community club settings.

The first team under the Bangu umbrella was an U19 men’s squad coached by Doug Nissen that included some of the metro area’s brightest talent. With some success at the state, region, and national level, the club quickly expanded to include a boys teams from U12 to U19 and a comprehensive girls program.

The adoption of the Bangu name was inspired by a professional club based in the Bangu neighborhood of Rio Di Janeiro. The Bangu F.C. badge was inspired by a German professional club.

Bangu’s evolution continued in the 1990s with a merger with another club and the official club name was changed to Bangu Tsunami Football Club (BTFC).

Bangu F.C. continues to have a profound influence on the modern Minnesota Thunder Academy club. Many of the coaches, directors, and board members have been mainstays since the Bangu days. You will also find many MTA parents who played their youth soccer wearing the Bangu badge.

Player Accomplishments

Leo Cullen – USA
Tom Presthus – USA
Christy Rowe – USA
Mukwelle Akale – Villareal CF (Spain)
Marie Barrientos – New Jersey Wildcats
Simone Kolander – Chicago Red Stars
Cody Cropper – Southampton (England), Ipswich Town (England), MK Dons (England), New England Revolution
Leo Cullen – Miami Fusion, NE Revolution, Colorado Rapids
Tyler David – Saint Louis F.C.
Martin De Leon – Universidad De Guadalajara (Mexico)
Sasha Gotsmanov – Colorado Rapids
Kelsey Hans – Minnesota Lightning
Ross Hoaglund – Minnesota Thunder
Abdus Ibrahim – Toronto FC, FC Dallas
Ismail Jome – MN United FC
Brett Kallman – MN United FC
Eric Miller – Montreal Impact, Colorado Rapids
Tom Presthus – DC United, Columbus Crew
Christy Rowe – Tus Niederkirchen Germany, Saarbrucken FC Germany
Kyle Singer – New England Revolution
Jackson Yueill – San Jose Earthquakes

Mukewlle Akale
Sophie Babo
Phil Berger
Cody Cropper
Madison Gaffney
Amber Greeley
Keegan Gunderson
Abdus Ibrahim
Isaac Kanneh
Jack Miller
Eric Miller
Lauren Miller
Adrienne Richardson
Jenna Roering
Kylie Schwarz
Kyle Singer
Maximiliano Steigwardt
Jackson Yueill

Leo Cullen – University of Maryland
Bobby Croog – Gustavus Adolphus (2003,2004,2005)
Caroline Smith – Kansas (2004)
2017 – Makenzie Langdok (AA)
2016 – Hannah Cade (AA)
2012 – Jenna Roering (AA)
2011 – Jill Richgels (A)
2010 – Eric Miller (AA)
2010 – Adam Osman (A)
2009 – Maddie Job (A)
2008 – Stephanie Brandt (AA)
2008 – Whitney Browne (AA)
2007 – Krista Lundgren (AA)
2007 – Megan Gallivan (A)
2007 – Colin Monestario (AA)
2007 – Keido Poure (A)
2006 – Tippy Jordan (A)
2006 – Abe Gibbons (AA)
2006 – Paul Grandstand (A)
2005 – Dana Tripp (AA)
2005 – Chelsea Turner (A)
2005 – Ryan Vindt (AA)
2004 – Jon Stillwell
2003 – Kelsey Hans
2002 – Katherine Krambeer
2001 – Caroline Smith
2001 – Chris Glinsky
1994 – Leo Cullen
2016 – Hannah Cade
2013 – Jenna Roering
2012 – Mathew Gweh
2012 – Jenna Roering
2011 – Eric Miller
2008 – Krista Lundgran
2002 – Caroline Smith
2001 – Sasha Gotsmanov
1998 – Kyle Singer
1994 – Leo Cullen
Megan Almanzo (1998)
Hannah Cade (2015)
Temi Carda (2016)
Chad Gilmer (2008)
Kelsey Hans (2003)
Katherine Krambeer (2002)
Taylor Lock (2016)
Krista Lundgren (2007)
Julie Rezak (2006)
Dana Tripp (2005)
Brianna Westlund (2007)
College of Charleston
Cornell
Creighton
Dartmouth
DePaul
High Point
Iowa State
Illinois State
Long Island
Loyola-Chicago
North Dakota State University
Northwestern University
Mercer University
Rhode Island
Saint Louis University
Santa Clara
Stanford University
South Dakota State University
Texas A&M
University of Connecticut
University of Maryland
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Tennessee
University of Vermont
University of Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Valparaiso

… and more

Team Accomplishments

US Youth Soccer National Championship Runner-Up
2003 – U18 (84/85) Girls
2002 – U17 (84/85) Girls

US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifier
2011 – U16 (94/95) Boys
2010 – U16 (93/94) Girls

ECNL National Finals B Flight Runner-Up
2012 – U15 (96/97) Girls
2012 – U17 (94/95) Girls

ECNL National Finals NASL 4th Place
2014 – U16 (97/98) Girls

US Club Soccer National Cup Runner-Up
2010 – U14 (95/96) Girls

US Club Soccer National Cup Qualifier
2005 – U14 (90/91) Girls

US Youth Soccer Region II Champion
2011 – U16 (93/94) Boys
2007 – U13 (93/94) Girls
2003 – U18 (84/85) Girls
2002 – U17 (84/85) Girls

US Youth Soccer Region II Runner-Up
2011 – U17 (93/94) Girls
2010 – U16 (93/94) Girls
2005 – U17 (87/88) Girls
2005 – U13 (91/92) Boys
2001 – U16 (84/85) Girls

ECNL Midwest Conference Champions
2013 – U16 (96/97) Girls

US Club Soccer Regional Cup Champion
2010 – U14 (95/96) Girls
2009 – U12 (96/97) Girls
2005 – U14 (90/91) Girls

US Youth Soccer Minnesota State Cup Champion*

2017 – (2 champions) – U13B, U15G  (2 Runner-Up) – U15B, U19G
2016 – (4 champions) – U14B, U13G, U14G, U16G (3 Runner-Up) – U13B, U13G, U14G
2015 –
2014 –
2013 – (4 champions) – U13B, U15B, U14G, U18G
2012 – (3 champions) – U13B, U14B, U15B
2011 – (7 champions) U13B, U14B, U16B, U14G, U15G, U16G, U17G
2010 – (9 champions) U13B, U14B, U15B, U17B, U19B, U13G, U15G, U16G, U19G
2009 – (7 champions) U13B, U14B, U15B, U18B, U15G, U18G, U19G
2008 – (8 champions) U13B, U17B, U19B, U13G, U14G, U15G, U17G, U18G
2007 – (8 champions) U14B, U16B, U18B, U13G, U14G, U16G, U17G, U19G
2006 – (9 champions) U13B, U15B, U17B, U18B, U19B, U13G, U15G, U16G, U18G
2005 – (6 champions) U13B, U14B, U17B, U18B, U14G, U17G
2004 – (6 champions) U14B, U15B, U19B, U13G, U16G, U19G

*As of 2012, ECNL and US Development Academy teams no longer participate in State Cup competition

Are we missing a player or team accomplishment?  Let us know… send us an email at info@mnthunderacademy.org

Update MTA Accomplishments