Minnesota Aurora FC: The feel-good Minnesota sports story of the summer

When Andrea Yoch and the board came together with a vision for Minnesota Aurora FC, there was no way of knowing how the on-field product would come together.

The Aurora, a pre-professional women’s soccer team in the USL W, became a reality after more than 3,000 local investors put up a combined $1 million towards the on-field product. It might just be Minnesota’s feel-good sports story of the summer. Sure, the Minnesota Twins are leading the American League Central Division, and might make the playoffs as a result of being in the worst division in baseball. The Timberwolves have made a splash, trading for the best defensive center in the NBA, Rudy Gobert.

The Vikings will embark on their first training camp with Kevin O’Connell in three weeks. We’ll see what happens with the team after they get hit in the mouth for the first time.

Right now, all Minnesota Aurora FC does is win. They’ve won nine straight matches since selling out their inaugural match at TCO Stadium, a 1-1 draw against Green Bay Glory. That would’ve been a win, if not for a late goal by the Glory.

The Aurora are 9-0 since, and have four shutouts on the season. Late last week, Minnesota Aurora FC clinched its first spot in the USL W Playoffs after Green Bay Glory tied Chicago City FC. The Aurora clinched the Heartland Division title, and earned a home playoff game in the process.

"This season has been incredible," Aurora coach Nicole Lukic said. "Because of all the amazing support from the community, we have been able to provide great conditions for our players and bring in truly gifted athletes. We are so happy to be rewarding all of our fans with at least one playoff home game."

Minnesota Aurora FC sold out three of its six home games this season, and playoff tickets went on sale Tuesday. The team features 26 players from seven different states, including 12 from Minnesota. They also have players from Japan and South Korea, and the roster varies in age from 16 to 25. Shelby Hopeau scored the historic first goal for the franchise on opening night.

They aren’t paid to play. Some have incentives or endorsements through name, image and likeness, and many play to because they love the game, and need to stay in shape for college teams or other future opportunities.

Minnesota Aurora FC has two regular season games left, both at Green Bay, before starting the USL W Playoffs. Eight teams make the post season, and they're one of seven division winners. That journey starts on July 13, back at TCO Stadium.