Minnesota Stars Lose to Puerto Rico Islanders in Bayamon
The Puerto Rico Islanders were able to get some revenge on Minnesota Stars FC on Saturday evening. The full strength Islanders defeated the Stars by a score of 2-0 in front of 3,331 at Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium. Just 4 days previous, Minnesota had beat up on Puerto Rico with a 4-0 scoreline in Blaine, Minn., which was the identical score that the Stars had defeated the Islanders at home on July 4th. Saturday night’s win for the Islanders split the series for the season as Puerto Rico had defeated the Stars 1-0 at Bayamon Sports Complex in late July.
Stars coach Manny Lagos went with some of the same starters for this match that had played on Tuesday, choosing rookie Nate Polak to start up top with Amani Walker. Connor Tobin and Michael Reed once again got the nod as did backup goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt which was only his 2nd start of the year. Matt VanOekel did not make the trip which meant if needed, defender Brian Kallman would have to fill in as the backup.
Reed made the first impact on the game as he sent a good free kick at the Islanders goal in only the 2nd minute of action, but the ball was picked off by the Islanders keeper Richard Martin. The Islanders quickly took over the match and dictated the pace and possession. In the 22nd minute David Foley fed Anthony Vazquez with a quality free kick which the defender nodded in for the game’s first goal.
Just 5 minutes later on-loan player Jamie Watson, who has been a difference maker in the first two matches he has played in for the Stars, was substituted out of the game with an injury. Watson was replaced by Lucas Rodriguez.
Late in the game David Foley scored an insurance goal for Puerto Rico. Hector Ramos played a nice through ball for Foley which Hildebrandt charged out of his net to intercept. But Foley was quicker and touched the ball around the Minnesota keeper then rolling it into the net and finishing the match off 2-0.
After playing one of their better matches in the last several months, Puerto Rico head coach Adrian Whitbread seemed relieved after the game. “It was a great and much needed win. I am very proud of my guys, especially after the difficult last couple of weeks the team has gone through.”
The loss put Minnesota’s season record at 8-9-10 and left them in 6th place with 34 points. Fort Lauderdale was defeated by Atlanta on Saturday night so they remain one point ahead of Minnesota. The win propels the Islanders into a tie with Tampa Bay for 2nd place, each team having 40 points. But four teams were idle on Saturday night with matches on Sunday. Edmonton hosts Tampa and Carolina plays at San Antonio. With a win the Scorpions will take the regular season championship in their inaugural NASL season.