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Still Lots on the Line for Minnesota Stars in Final Two Matches

2012 September 14
by Brian Quarstad

Only 3 points separate spots 3-6 in the NASL standings.

The Minnesota Stars got the proverbial monkey off their back on Tuesday night with a 4-0 win over the Puerto Rico Islanders. The Stars had gone 9 games without a win going back nearly 8 weeks to July 12th. Oddly, it was the second time in three meetings with the Islanders that Minnesota won by a 4-0 score, both coming at home. The 2nd match between the two teams was July 28th in Bayamon where the Stars fell 1-0 to the Islanders in a match were Minnesota played just well enough, for the most part, but fell short to Puerto Rico after a Noah Delgado goal in the 48th minute.

With Tuesday night’s win, Minnesota clinched the 6th and final playoff spot, the exact same position they had last year when they fought through a difficult playoff road that saw the team win the NASL Championship.

“It was a very nice night to end our home season,” said Stars head coach Manny Lagos. “Maybe now we can get excited about playing two away games and getting ready for the playoffs.”

The Stars do have two games left in the regular season, both away matches. Minnesota are 2-6-4 on the road this year. First they will travel to Puerto Rico this weekend where the Islanders are 7-3-2 at home. Minnesota then moves on to play first-place San Antonio the following weekend. The Scorpions are 8-2-2 at Heroes Stadium and have a +19 goal differential at home. Making matters worse, the Scorpions have also been the recipients of 7 penalty kicks this year at Heroes Stadium. Not one has been awarded to the opposition. The most penalty kicks any other team has been awarded is 3, and yes, they were all in favor of Puerto Rico in Bayamon.

The Scorpions also were assured of a first round bye with the Stars’ win on Tuesday night; it also looks as if they will be regular season champions. They sit six points above 2nd place Tampa, and while the Rowdies could statistically catch the Scorpions with two wins and San Antonio taking two losses, they would need to still make up a +18 goal differential. With that near impossibility, it’s safe to say the Scorpions have things wrapped up.

While San Antonio looks to have things in hand for first place and the Tampa Bay Rowdies are in a good position to take 2nd place with the bye that goes with it, spots 3-6 are tight with four teams battling and only 3 points separating them.

On Saturday night, Puerto Rico will be looking for a positive result as they are just 3 points off of 2nd place Tampa Bay and would love to get the NASL second place bye and seeding. They also have 4th place Ft. Lauderdale and Carolina nipping on their heels just 2 points behind and Minnesota who is in 6th place just 3 points behind. While it would be difficult but not impossible for Carolina and Ft. Lauderdale to surpass Tampa, Minnesota could only tie them and the Rowdies currently have a +1 goal differential.

The stronger possibility for Puerto Rico, Carolina, Ft. Lauderdale and Minnesota, is to grab spots 3 and 4 which would give them a home field advantage in the quarterfinals of the NASL Championship.

Whatever the results, the last two weeks of NASL action should be interesting as even Edmonton and Atlanta, (the Silverbacks are 2-1-3 in their last 5 matches) will work to play spoiler while all 6 playoff-bound teams jockey for their final position.

This weekend’s matches (9/15-16):
Atlanta hosts Ft. Lauderdale
Puerto Rico hosts Minnesota
Edmonton hosts Tampa Bay
San Antonio hosts Carolina

Wednesday matches (9/19):
Atlanta hosts San Antonio
Tampa hosts Carolina

Final weekend matches (9/22-23):
Carolina hosts Tampa
Puerto Rico hosts Atlanta
Edmonton hosts Ft. Lauderdale
San Antonio hosts Minnesota

7 Responses
  1. smatthew permalink
    September 14, 2012

    “the Scorpions have also been the recipients of 7 penalty kicks this year at Heros Stadium. Not one has been awarded to the opposition. ”

    It would be tough not to be at the top of the table with this kind of bias. And didn’t the Scorpions beat Houston in the USOC on a pk too? hmmmm

  2. Soccer Boy permalink
    September 14, 2012

    Great article to break things down. I am cheering for FC Edmonton, Atlanta Silverbacks and the Stars these last two matches!

  3. tomASS permalink
    September 14, 2012

    Like I have been saying……..The Stars have them right where they they want them

    @smatthew – that’s some type of home cooking.

  4. gordieloewen permalink
    September 15, 2012

    “While it would be difficult but not impossible for Carolina and Ft. Lauderdale to surpass Tampa, Minnesota could only tie them and the Rowdies currently have a +1 goal differential.”

    While I agree that it is highly unlikely that the Stars would catch Tampa needing two wins on the road (certainly doable) while Tampa would need to lose three straight (the unlikely part), at that point the goal differential wouldn’t matter. The Stars winning two means adding a minimum of +2 to goal differential, while the Rowdies losing three means at least a net -3 to goal differential, meaning at the end of the season, the Stars would be at least +5 while Tampa could be no better than +2.

    Additionally, there is no scenario in which the Stars capture second place. Two of Tampa’s remaining three matches are against Carolina. So even if the Stars win their remaining two and Tampa loses their remaining three, Carolina would tip the Stars to the second spot by at least a point, depending on how they perform at San Antonio tomorrow.

  5. September 15, 2012

    I love it when people are smarter than I am… which is almost always.

  6. tomASS permalink
    September 15, 2012

    @BQ – don’t fret, you still have me hanging around so you have that going for ya 🙂

  7. gordieloewen permalink
    September 16, 2012

    Don’t worry BQ. I’m wrong often enough that I chalk this one up to law of averages rather than smarts.

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