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MN-Launched Soccer Star Mimi Eiden Is Taking Her Game Global

From Liberia to Forest Lake to Missoula to Iceland, Eiden won't let geography get in the way of her dreams.

University of Montana's Derek Johnson|

Mimi playing in the mountains.

At just 25, Mimi Eiden has a globetrotting soccer story to tell. The former standout at Minnesota’s Forest Lake Area High School is in her second year playing professionally abroad, and her talents as a goal-hunting forward have already taken her all over the world. 

Currently, Eiden is in Iceland playing for Vestri FC. That followed a brief stint with Liberia’s national team and, before that, a college career that zigzagged from North Dakota to Montana. Her journey is reflective of the continued growth of the women’s game, as well as the experiences of first-generation immigrants. And it all started well before a career in soccer seemed remotely possible.

Born in Liberia, Eiden wasn’t exposed to much soccer during her early childhood. She was later adopted by a Minnesota couple, which opened all sorts of new doors. Life in the sleepy, lake-dotted Twin Cities exurb of Forest Lake revolved around the beautiful game. (Life at home was decidedly less sleepy—when Eiden and her four siblings were adopted, the household’s number of kids shot up to 17.)  

“I would watch the boys play. At that time girls weren’t allowed to, my mom would tell me not to go out and play with the boys, but I would do it sometimes when she wasn’t looking” Eiden says. “[After I was adopted] my parents here told me I could play and they signed me up for a team called Little Kickers. My family growing up were huge soccer fans… we would play every day, no matter the weather.”

Eiden earned all-conference soccer honors as a senior at Forest Lake Area High School, having reached the honorable mentions the year prior. Somehow, she found time to become a PSEO graduate of North Central University.

Attending the University of North Dakota, Eiden continued to impress playing for the NCAA DI Fighting Hawks. She appeared in all 18 of UND's games as a freshman, scoring two goals while adding three assists. She repeated those numbers in her sophomore year, before leveling up in her junior year with eight goals and one assist through 19 games. The COVID-19 pandemic shook up the sports world, and by the time play resumed in early 2021, Eiden had transferred to the University of Montana. In Missoula, Eiden found herself reunited with mentor Chris Citowicki, a former UND assistant who had just become head coach at Montana. Eiden helped the Monte squad go 9-2 en route to the NCAA tournament.

“I was very comfortable where I was at and the stats looked great,” she says. “It was one of those things where I sat with myself and was like, something needs to change. It was the obvious choice to transfer to Montana because of the mentality that Coach Citowicki and the whole program had.”

Unsurprisingly, Citowicki is also a fan of his striker from Minnesota.

“The first time I saw [Eiden], she was just lights out,” he told NBC Montana in 2020. “You would put her up front, she would score three goals against you. You would put her in the back and she’d shut teams down. She is just electric with the pace to get her in behind.”

Another new, exciting chapter began by the end of 2021, when Eiden was called up to join the Liberian women’s national team for a pair of African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying games. It was the full-circle opportunity of a lifetime. “This is not something that happens to everyone,” she says. Eiden has now played for Liberia in two different qualifying tournaments.

“I’ve always wanted to go back to Liberia and play for the national team,” she continues. “It’s a prayer I’ve had growing up and it was amazing. I give credit to God for how that full circle moment happened. I was able to see where I grew up; I was able to see my mom, my siblings, my uncle. It’s one of those things where sometimes I have to sit and just process that I’m truly blessed.”

Now a college graduate and a player for a FIFA national team, Eiden headed to the professional ranks in Iceland, starting with second-division Grindavík in 2022. Eiden scored nine goals in that first campaign—the rest of the team added just seven more combined. 

Citowicki, Eiden’s former coach, is a major proponent of women pursuing playing opportunities abroad after college.

“Do you want to finish school and starting working [in the United States] right away, or do you want to finish school, go live in Europe and play some more soccer,” he told the University of Montana in a media release. “Talk about some wonderful experiences.”

Disagreements off the field with her agency meant Eiden did not secure a satisfactory contract at a club for 2023. Faced with not playing for a club abroad, she dedicated herself to training in Minnesota while searching for new representation.

“After the first season, I was happy with my performances,” she says. “I’m hard on myself about my play, and when things went wrong, I had to focus on working on myself and focusing on what I can control. It was a lot of trials and tribulations; it was really hard on me.”

During her off year, Eiden trained with Serious Ballers, a Twin Cities-based group that attracts high-level soccer players from around the region for daily sessions. The organization, founded by Kwaku Amoah, has worked with past and present Minnesota United FC players like Romain Metanaire and Caden Clark.

Eiden is now back in Iceland with Vestri FC, prepared for a new challenge and another chance.

“I love the club and my teammates,” she says. “It’s also important that I’m in the moment and helping my team here, because this is a good group of girls and we’re doing well.”

Despite those recent career detours, Eiden says her long-term goal is clear: a continued career as a pro footballer, fueled by her talent and her supporters. While she’s vocal about her criticisms of how some agencies handle women soccer players, she remains motivated by family and faith.

“The year of not playing has fueled me, because that was not part of my plan,” she says. “At the end of the day, though, God is the one that has the plan for me and I have to trust him. Last year was a humbling year; I think it was good for me to go through that. Now it can be something that pushes me.”

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