The Minnesota Thunder hope 2008 will mark a return to top form. The franchise was once a perennial title contender, reaching four finals between 1998 and 2003, but has failed to make the USL First Division playoffs in each of the last three seasons. Under a new ownership group, however, the team's payroll has doubled and the marketing budget has been increased tenfold. The plan is to get more butts in the seats at James S. Griffin Stadium and more goals in the back of the net. Fiery midfielder Ricardo Sanchez and speedster Stephen deRoux will patrol the center of the pitch, while veterans Kevin Taylor and Kevin Friedland will anchor the defense. The Thunder will be looking to Brazilian target forward Frederico Moojen and Canadian veteran Alen Marcina to score goals. Third-year coach Amos Magee is hoping the influx of money and talent leads the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Sun., May 4, 5:05 p.m., 2008