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Minnesota United FC: Mark to head up south Washington County-based reserve team

Minnesota United Football Club hired Minnesota native Donny Mark as the club’s first National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) head coach. Mark will lead the Minnesota United Reserves in the Midwest Region of the NPSL’s Central Conference.

All Minnesota United Reserves NPSL matches will be played in the South Washington County School District, with the majority at East Ridge High School. The 2014 NPSL schedule is slated to be released in February. 

“I am very excited about naming Donny Mark as the head coach of the Minnesota United Reserves,” said club president Nick Rogers. “We now have a very well respected former professional player who knows the local market and knows the talent. Mark will play a big part in this club, not only in developing talent but helping to work with the current players on our roster.”

With more than 10 years of coaching experience, the Shorewood, Minnesota native began his coaching career in 2004 at Minnetonka High School, followed by coaching at St. Olaf College in 2005. In 2006, Mark founded the QiLin FC Shanghai youth soccer club in Shanghai, China. Mark coached the club from 2006-2010 where he grew its membership to over 500 youth players. 

“I was very flattered that Manny Lagos reached out to me,” said Mark. “When this opportunity came along it was a no-brainer. Seeing where this club is going and having gone to games the last few years, it is a really exciting time.”

As a player, Mark played collegiate soccer at Marquette University from 1997-98 and the University of Connecticut from 1999-2000, winning the NCAA Division 1 National Championship in 2000. After his college career, Mark spent time playing professionally for US Montagnarde in France in 2001, followed by time with the Carolina Dynamo in the Premier Development League (PDL) in 2002. Mark then joined the Minnesota Thunder from 2002-2004 in the United Soccer League First Division (USL-1). In 2005 Mark moved to China, where he played for Shanghai 2000 FC.

Mark and Minnesota United FC head coach Manny Lagos have high hopes for the reserve team. Mark brings an excitement and passion to the club and carries high hopes for its future and the players on the roster. 

“Coach Lagos has the vision of creating a true club atmosphere with the first and second team,” said Mark. “Having players move back and forth between the clubs and really see our players progress is what made this opportunity so intriguing.”

As a coach Mark has earned his US Soccer National Youth License in Sioux Falls, South Dakota while working with US Soccer, FA Level 2 Coaching Certificate in Manchester, England and his FA Level 3/UEFA B Phase Coaching Certificate at Bolton FC. 

The NPSL is a national league that operates in the 4th Division of the U.S. Soccer pyramid. NPSL teams are eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup through their affiliation with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). The NPSL is the fastest-growing national soccer league in the U.S., operating in more than 70 markets across the country. Two Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs, D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls, operate U-23 squads in the NPSL.

- Patrick Johnson 

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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