Minnesota Stars Earn Point in Edmonton
The Minnesota Stars gained their first point in a month with a 1-1 draw with FC Edmonton.
Despite decent play from both Edmonton and Minnesota, Saturday night’s match was determined by defensive miscues rather than brilliant offensive play. The Minnesota Stars were in Edmonton on Saturday night playing the Eddies for only the second time this season. Minnesota was just two minutes away from getting their first win in almost a month with a 1-0 lead. It was July 12 the last time the Stars were able to add points to the NASL standings table. Since that time Minnesota had gone 0-3-0. Now the Stars are 0-3-1 after giving up an own goal in the 89th minute of Saturday night’s contest.
After a first half that saw Edmonton with the bulk of possession with 9 shots forcing 6 saves from Stars goalkeeper Matt VanOekel, it was Minnesota that got on the board just before the break. The Stars defense played a long ball forward to the right side of the field. Edmonton’s Jonathan Joseph-Augustin misplayed the bounce and the speedy Martin Nunez took advantage of the mistake, swiping the ball and speeding around the big defender. Nunez still had much work to do as he headed towards goal with the Eddies keeper Lance Parker coming out. But even with two defenders in pursuit, Nunez calmly shot around Parker to put Minnesota up 1-0 in the 44th minute.
At halftime Eddies coach Harry Sinkgraven said he was happy with his team’s play except for the mistake and they would just have to do more of it in the second half. But Minnesota had other intentions as they created better scoring opportunities in the half.
Perhaps the best of those scoring opportunities came in the 57th minute when Simone Bracalello was fed a ball through that put him alone on goal. But the Minnesota forward took too long on the set up and found his shot deflecting off the foot of new Edmonton defender David Proctor. The former Scottish association football player made an outstanding recovery run and timed his lunging tackle perfectly.
Minnesota looked to have finished the game off cleanly with a 3 to 1 shot advantage and VanOekel not having to make a save in the 2nd half. But that all fell apart in the 88th minute when Bryan Arguez played in Michael Cox behind a trailing Ernest Tchoupe. Cox blasted low but VanOekel came up huge making a brilliant drop save. However, the rebound caromed out to a trailing Tchoupe who accidentally kicked the ball into his own goal off his shin.
With both teams trying to earn all three points there was a nasty incident late in the game. A bad collision occurred when Edmonton’s Paul Hamilton came running in late to head a ball away from Geison Moura who clearly had position and was already in the air. Moura headed the ball and Hamilton slammed heads with the Stars midfielder. Both players were down for a considerable amount of time before Moura was stretchered off and Hamilton was shown a straight red for dangerous play.
The game ended in a 1-1 deadlock and the point helped Minnesota to move back into 4th place, tied with Strikers at 27 points and a game in hand.
The Stars return home next Saturday after their 3 game road trip. They will face the San Antonio Scorpions who visit NSC Stadium for the first time. The first place Scorpions will coming off a midweek match played in Edmonton on Wednesday night.