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Lack of vaccine mandate keeps some Loons fans away from Allianz Field

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Lack of vaccine mandate keeps some Loons fans away from Allianz Field

Minnesota United hosted its biggest regular-season game of the year on Sunday, but the crowd at Allianz Field didn’t have a correlated playoff-like atmosphere.

When state health guidelines allow it, the Loons almost always have capacity crowds in excess of 19,600 at home games in St. Paul, but on Sunday, there were patches of empty seats in the stadium, with an announced attendance of 19,027 for the 3-1 loss to Colorado Rapids.

And the robust soundtrack of cheering and chants emanating from the Wonderwall supporters sections in the stadium’s south end had its volume turned down.

Members in some of MNUFC’s supporters groups said earlier this week they planned to stay away from the stadium as a sign of opposition to the club not instituting a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for those attending home games.

The Dark Clouds’ message Monday was looked at as if it were a boycott of games; they clarified it Wednesday. “We did not intend for our statement to be interpreted as an ultimatum-driven boycott of matches,” they wrote. “… Any fan who feels comfortable attending should do so without feeling like they’re crossing a picket line.”

MNUFC has supported vaccinations, masking and social distancing as part of the local health guidelines set out during the pandemic, but like other professional teams in Minnesota, they have not mandated vaccinations (or a proof of a negative tests) before fans enter venues.

“We understand the team’s position that this is a difficult set of circumstances to navigate,” the Dark Clouds said. “We believe that the team wants to find a way to implement safety mechanisms for the benefit of its fans.”

On Thursday, Los Angeles FC said it would join a short list of MLS clubs to have a vaccination mandate for games, and some vocal Minnesota supporters took that news as an opportunity to drive home their point that MNUFC should do the same.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber told the Pioneer Press on Tuesday that the league works with individual clubs’ responses to the pandemic “in a very linear way.”

“We’ve said from the beginning of the pandemic through the bubble, getting back to our markets, getting through the 2020 season, getting back into our markets in ’21, we will adapt to local health guidelines,” Garber said Tuesday. “The guidelines that are in place here in the city and state are the ones the club is following, and that is in accordance with league policy.”

The most obvious change in the game-day experience Sunday was the absence of the Thunderwall, the drumming group who provide a steady beat throughout games and the heavy bass underscoring chants.

“It brings us no joy to announce we will be omitting percussion for the remainder of the season until a vaccine, mask, or COVID test mandate is instated at @allianzfield,” they tweeted Tuesday.

The Thunderwall’s home is in the middle of the Wonderwall, the south end’s standing-only sections, which weren’t at capacity Sunday, nor were other sections throughout the stadium.

Loons midfielder Ethan Finlay said the fans in the stands were loud and engaged in the game. “But we didn’t give them enough to cheer about, to be honest,” Finlay said. “If it was quieter than normal, that was probably a little bit on us.”

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Dear Abby: Boyfriend’s mission – talk to every woman he sees

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Dear Abby: Can’t budge lonely, needy friend from the phone

Dear Abby: I’ve been going out with this guy for a couple of months. The problem is, he has to ALWAYS talk to every woman he sees — from a two-second conversation to a several-minute conversation. He doesn’t even know 99% of them.

When we go to a store, I feel like I’m invisible. He’ll walk away from me and start talking to women. I don’t trust him completely because sometimes he flirts or says something that could be taken in a sexual way, and I worry that one of these women could take it like he’s interested in her.

I don’t want to break up with him. I love him. But I feel I have reason to be jealous. I wish I was the only girl for him. Please give me advice.

— Not No. 1 in Pennsylvania

Dear Not No. 1: If you have discussed this with him and it persists, listen to your intuition. If he loved you, he would not be chatting up other women. If a man makes you feel like you are not No. 1, get rid of him before he destroys your self-esteem.

Dear Abby: We have a neighbor who likes to go out with us to the casinos, restaurants and various other places. This is doing her a favor, but she never contributes toward the transportation. When we go out with other couples, we alternate driving or help to pay for fuel. All we get from her is, “Thank you. Let me know when you’re going next time.”

I know she reads your column. I hope she reads this and realizes this sounds like her and takes the hint. What do you think is the best way to handle this situation?

— Always the Taxi

Dear Always: Your friend may be an avid “Dear Abby” reader, but what if — heaven forbid — she misses the column today and doesn’t see your letter? The “best” way to handle this would be for you to take the bull by the horns and address the problem directly with her.

Dear Abby: My 4-year-old grandson, “Johnny,” is obsessed with all things military. Everything he picks up is a pretend gun, sword or blaster. I know we played cowboys and Indians as kids, pointing sticks or our hands and shouting, “Pow! You’re dead!” and none of us turned into shooters. But today’s climate is more violent. Johnny has already gotten into trouble at preschool for pointing and making shooting noises. Is there anything we can do to discourage this behavior? Does he need professional help?

— Unclear in California

Dear Unclear: Because Johnny has gotten into trouble for pretending to play with guns, his parents should explain to him why it is not OK to do that at school. Unless there is something going on with your grandson that you omitted from your letter, he should not need professional intervention for acting like a normal boy.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com. 

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Gallery: USS Constitution change of command

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Gallery: USS Constitution change of command

Matt Stone is an award-winning photojournalist who has been working at the Boston Herald for the past 26 years. Matt has won numerous awards for his work in the area of spot news, sports, photo essays and features. Thanks to the success of our New England sports teams, Matt has been able to bring Herald readers along for the championship runs of the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins.

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Men’s hockey: Ben Meyers’ overtime goal lifts Gophers over Michigan in thriller

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Men’s hockey: Gophers’ five-goal rally sweeps away Michigan State

Minnesota co-captain Ben Meyers is a fairly stoic, no-drama kind of guy, on and off the ice. But his role on Friday could’ve won him an Oscar, handed out by his team’s hungry fan base.

Meyers scored a power play goal in overtime to lift the Gophers to a dramatic 2-1 win over the Michigan Wolverines in the opener of their two-game Big Ten series at Mariucci Arena.

With Michigan frantically trying to kill a major penalty, Meyers took a cross-ice pass from defenseman Jackson LaCombe that pulled the Wolverines’ goalie out of position, and potted his team-leading 10th goal of the season into a mostly-empty net.

“That was a pretty good hockey game tonight,” deadpanned Gophers coach Bob Motzko, mastering the understatement. “We played a complete game tonight, and I’m sure their coach would say the same thing. That was a good hockey game.”

Meyers’ goal came after Matthew Knies had tied it for the Gophers early in the third period of a back-and-forth battle between the conference’s two heavyweights. Dylan Duke scored to give Michigan a 1-0 lead in the second period.

Blake McLaughlin appeared to score a power play goal with 12.1 seconds left in the third period, but after review it was determined that the puck was kicked in, and the game went to overtime.

Gophers goalie Justen Close had 26 saves as the Gophers improved to 14-9-0 overall and 9-4-0 in the conference.

“He was incredible, some of the saves he made,” said Meyers, after Close notched a career high for saves. “They’ve got a talented team, so to hold them to one goal was just incredible.

The opening period ended with nothing on the scoreboard, but there was end-to-end action as the Gophers had three power plays and Michigan had two. Protecting their goalie, the Gophers blocked
five Michigan shots and held the Wolverines without a shot on goal for the first 13 minutes of the game.

The announced crowd of 8,204 included a packed student section and one of the more lively audiences of the season in Minneapolis, which added to the fun for the players.

“It was really exciting. Honestly, it’s pretty indescribable walking out with that kind of crowd and that kind of student section,” Knies said. “It was really fun to be back in that kind of atmosphere.”

Michigan turned up the heat offensively in the second period, outshooting the Gophers 16-5 and finally breaking the scoreless deadlock when Dylan Duke got free at the top of the crease and snapped off a quick shot that just barely eluded Close’s sweeping attempt at a glove save. That was the only blemish on an otherwise stellar 20 minutes for Close, who was making his third collegiate start.

For the Wolverines (18-7-1, 9-6-0) the more telling number was the 23 minutes in penalties they were assessed, including the major penalty late in a tight game.

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