News Release     08/20/2001      Djorn Buchholz    (651) 917-TEAM (8326)

Buzz “Bubble” Head Night This Saturday

First 5,000 Fans Receive Thunder’s Most Unique Giveaway Of Year; Coughlin, 11-Year Veteran Announces Retirement

BLAINE, Minn. (August 20, 2001) – The Minnesota Thunder’s (7-13-2, 32 points, 10-14-2 overall) next A-League home match is Saturday, August 25, against the El Paso Patriots (8-10-4, 40 points) at the National Sports Center (kickoff 7:35 pm). The first 5,000 fans will receive a free Buzz Lagos “Bubble” Head, a commemorative item resembling the Thunder's founder and head coach, courtesy of Connexus Energy.

"This is not a bobblehead, but a bubble head," said Samantha Neral, Connexus Energy spokesperson. "And if you are wondering what a bubble head is, then we encourage you to come out and see. We think kids will have more fun with the bubble head."

The giveaway coincides with Camp Reunion Night, a gathering of more than 1,500 Thunder summer campers, and High School Night, where all high school soccer players receive a $2 discount and have the opportunity to compete in a half-time relay race for prizes.

Connexus Energy is offering its customers a $5 ticket discount. Discount coupons are available in the Connexus Energy monthly newsletter, online at www.connexusenergy.com, or at the electric cooperative’s headquarters at 14601 Ramsey Blvd. in Ramsey.

The August 25 match will be the second last home game of the season. The Thunder’s last regular season home game will be on Monday, September 3, against the Vancouver Whitecaps (13-6-1, 60 points) at the National Sports Center (kick off 5:05 pm). The first 5,000 fans will receive a Nike lanyard.

Coughlin, 11-Year Veteran Announces Retirement

Defender John Coughlin, one of four long-time veteran players remaining on the Minnesota Thunder’s roster announced his retirement today from professional soccer at the end of this season. He will be honored in a special ceremony prior to his final regular-season game on Monday, September 3, at 5 pm when the Thunder takes on the Vancouver Whitecaps at the National Sports Center. There will be a post-game party at Spikers Bar & Grill honoring Coughlin following the match.

“I’m ready to move onto the next stage of my life,” said Coughlin. “I’ve had an unbelievable time playing the game of soccer, traveling and cementing friendships with my teammates over the years. I cannot begin to tell you how fortunate I am to have experienced a level of success that I attribute to the family Buzz (Lagos) has created over the years. The most difficult part for me as I move on with my life is not spending every waking day with my best friends.”

Coughlin, 28, has played for the Thunder since 1991 and was a member of the 1999 A-League Championship Team. He was a second-team all-league selection in 1999 and started for the A-League All-Star Team in a 3-0 loss to host Hampton Roads Mariners.

“I knew last year that I was ready to retire,” said Coughlin. “But I wanted to play one more season, knowing it would be my last. It was a tough decision to make. This team has been such a focal point in my life for so long. It’s time now for a change.”

Thunder Heads West With Slim Playoff Hopes Still Alive

The Minnesota Thunder (7-13-2, 32 points, 10-14-2 overall) will continue its quest for a playoff berth in its final two regular season West Coast road matches tonight against the Seattle Sounders (10-6-1, 43 points) and the Portland Timbers (9-8-2, 42 points) on Wednesday. The Thunder must win its remaining four regular season games to stay alive in the playoff race as the top three teams from each conference make the playoffs along with the next three best teams in the league irrespective of the conference. The Thunder is just 11 points away from a wild card.

Notes…

Northwest Airlines is the presenting sponsor of the upcoming appearances:

§ Don Gramenz, Nate Winkel, and Johnny Menyongar will be facilitating a pregame Connexus Energy Clinic at the National Sports Center on August 25 at 5:45 pm.

For more information on Thunder appearances contact Community Relations Coordinator Melissa Fox 763-785-3668.

The Minnesota Thunder, founded in 1990, is a second-division professional soccer franchise that plays in the Western Conference of the 21- team A-League. The Thunder's home schedule runs May through September at the National Sports Center in Blaine.