Minnesota Stars End Losing Streak with 2-1 Victory over Fort Lauderdale Strikers
The Minnesota Stars FC had lost three games in a row. The team was undefeated until just a few weeks ago and the downward spiral shocked many fans and gave the rest of the NASL confidence that the reigning champions weren’t unstoppable.
The Stars managed to turn things around by defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday night by a 2-1 margin. VanOekel, Davis, Kallman, Altman, Tobin, Hlavaty, Takada, Venegas, Ibarra, Nunez, and Bracalello started against Glaeser, Stahl, Blake, Stewart, Shanosky, Motagalvan, Otte, Pecka, Restrepo, Anderson, and Herron.
The Strikers made mistakes early in the game. Only five minutes passed before Otte earned a yellow card for diving in Minnesota’s box. Ten minutes later, the referee showed his teammate Motagalvan a yellow card as well for dissent.
The Floridians’ problems didn’t end there as the team conceded a penalty in the 17th minute when Shanosky handled a Bracalello strike in the box. Hlavaty stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty into the roof of the net. The Stars led 1-0 and their luck seemed to have changed.
The tables turned just as quickly in the Strikers’ favor in the 25th minute. Tobin fouled an opposing player well outside of the box. The distance didn’t deter Anderson’s free kick, though, since it powered over the wall and past VanOekel into the bottom corner.
The score was tied and Minnesota was back on a level playing field. The fears of another loss couldn’t quite set in, however, because the Stars took the lead again in the 39th minute. Vice-captain Kallman crossed a low ball into the box and Bracalello’s diving header met the ball at the near post. The attempt was too much for goalkeeper Glaeser to handle and the Stars led 2-1.
The Stars had one more solid goal-scoring opportunity just before halftime. Hlavaty assisted Nunez, but his acrobatic shot ricocheted off the cross bar.
The first half proved to be where all the action ensued. The second half, while the game still enjoyed some chances, wasn’t nearly as fruitful as the first for either team. Bracalello had two early options. His right wing drives easily slipped past defenders. Glaeser saved one of his shots and another cross just missed the head of Venegas.
After 63 minutes, Florida decided it was time for the first substitution and Otte retired to the bench for Lorenz. Nine minutes later, Nunez earned the Stars’ first booking. Another substitution soon followed for the Strikers when Herron suffered an injury and Hassan came in as his replacement. Head coach Lagos made his first change in the 75th minute when Del Do swapped with Nunez. Four minutes later, it was Pecka out for Nagime.
The referee doled out the last yellow card in the 81st minute and the Stars made the last switch in stoppage time when Edi Buro came on for Bracalello. Del Do created one more shot, but the ball sailed wide of the post.
The Stars walked away with a much needed 2-1 win at home. The team still sits third in the league behind the leading Puerto Rico Islanders and second-place San Antonio Scorpions, but the point difference between the top-three teams is a bridgeable three points. The Stars will hope to build on the victory next Saturday away against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and regain the top spot on the table.
Italian forward Simone Bracalello received this week’s Brit’s Pub/IMSoccer News Man of the Match award for his excellent play on Saturday night. Bracalello set up the first Stars goal by taking a shot in the box that deflected off defender Jack Stewart’s arm and drew a penalty kick. Then Bracalello scored himself on a diving header for the game-winning goal which brings his goal total to 4 this season and 5 in all competitions.
Bracalello will receive a $50.00 gift certificate from Brit’s Pub and Eating Establishment for being chosen the Brit’s Pub/IMSoccer News – Minnesota Stars FC Man of the Match.