NSC MN Stars Lose Inaugural Game to Vancouver Whitecaps
Vancouver’s talent and experience outdoes Stars 2-0
The NSC Minnesota Stars stepped on the soccer field for the first time as an official USSF D-2 Pro League team on Sunday night in British Columbia. The Stars started slowly allowing Vancouver the majority of possession early in the game. While Vancouver enjoyed the bulk of possession, Minnesota did well in creating some good chances on the Vancouver goal, plunking one header off the woodwork and having another tipped just wide by Whitecap keeper Jay Nolly.
Most of Minnesota’s chances came from set pieces. The opportunities seemed to inspire confidence in the Stars midfield and they went on the attack numerous times looking dangerous in doing so.
With the score still knotted up at 0-0 and headed into injury time just before the half, Minnesota keeper Louis Crayton either landed wrong or collided with a Vancouver player in attempting to kick a ball he had gathered in. Crayton, in obvious pain, was carted off the field on a stretcher and appeared later on the sidelines in crutches. Crayton’s injury will be evaluated when the Stars return to Minnesota on Monday, according to coach Manny Lagos.
With Crayton gone, Joe Warren entered into the match seeing his first game as a pro in 4 years. Warren retired from the game in 2006, his last team being the Minnesota Thunder.
Warren struggled in his first minutes of the second half punching a ball weakly that landed directly at the feet of Martin Nash who chipped wide of the open goal. A few moments later a shot went directly to Warren who bobbled the ball which was chipped high by Vancouver only to land on the roof of the net. But Warren came back with several good saves later in the game. However, the midfield’s late preseason start reared its head with Minnesota showing fatigue and having nearly no possession in the second half. In fact the Stars were rarely able to get the ball out of their own half and one string of 10 passes was the most the team could muster in the second 45 minutes of play.
Vancouver finally did what seemed inevitable and scored in the 62nd minute on a play that started with Martin Nash’s free kick from just outside the area. Luca Bellisomo headed it home for the first goal of the match.
Marlon James scored the Whitecaps’ second goal in minute 76 with some nice assistance from Nizar Khalfan who had worked a give-and-go with the veteran forward.
The Vancouver midfield loaded with experience totally dominated the young Minnesota lineup and forced coach Lagos to use all 5 of his substitutions. Minnesota’s only real chance in the second half came when substitute Melvin Tarley broke in on the right side of goal by himself in the 84th minute. With 2 defenders square and keeper Nolly in front of him, Tarley was still able to get a shot off that rolled wide left of goal.
“Obviously, I’m never happy when we lose, but I was proud of the effort tonight,” said head coach Manny Lagos. “We played tough and battled hard. Vancouver’s not an easy place to play.”
“In the first half, we had some good chances, especially the one off the post,” Lagos continued. “In the second half we didn’t have the same energy, and the real game changer was the set-piece for their first goal.”
Minnesota will have to shake the dust off quickly as they will have a travel day today and then train Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving for Cary, North Carolina on Thursday for a game with the RailHawks on Friday evening at 7:00 CST. That game will be live streamed via the RailHawks website.
VAN – Luca Bellisomo 1 (Martin Nash 1) – 62
VAN – Marlon James 1 (Nizar Khalfan 1) – 76
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Jay Nolly; 77.Zurab Tsiskaridze, 2.Nelson Akwari, 14.Greg Janicki, 4.Chris Williams; 16.Ansu Toure (19.Justin Moose 82′), 3. Luca Bellisomo (99.Ricardo Sanchez 82′), 7.Martin Nash (15.Philippe Davies 88′), 8.Wes Knight (29.Nizar Khalfan 73′); 9.Marlon James, 11.Dever Orgill (17.Randy Edwini-Bonsu 66′)
Subs not used: 31.Simon Thomas, 20.Ethan Gage
NSC Minnesota Stars
27.Louis Crayton (1.Joe Warren 45′ +); 6.Kevin Friedland (26.Ely Allen 66′), 14.Brian Kallman, 3.Andres Arango (11.Chris Clements 74′), 8.Daniel Wasson; 16.Kyle Altman, 7.Andrei Gotsmanov (19.Simone Bracalello 71′), 21.Leilei Gao, 15.Devin Del Do; 10.Johnny Menyongar, 9.Warren Ukah (18.Melvin Tarley 66′)
Subs not used: 20.Brian Cvilikas, 22.Two-Boys Gumede
Video Highlights Courtesy of the Vancouver Whitecaps