Match Preview: Minnesota United FC vs. FC Edmonton
With its early season bye week now behind it, Minnesota United FC welcomes FC Edmonton to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. United FC opened the season at home on April 6 with a scoreless draw against the San Antonio Scorpions, and head coach and technical director Manny Lagos said he’ll know after Saturday’s game if the extra week to prepare was a good thing so early in the season.
“We’ve had two good weeks of training and really tried to find ways to get better, so in that terms it’s good,” he said. “You never know your sharpness versus sluggishness until you start playing, but I think we’re feeling good and feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”
Primarily the team will be looking to finish its chances against an FC Edmonton side that’s wrapping up a three-game roadtrip to open the season and hoping for its first win of the season. United FC will be without suspended forward Pablo Campos, who is serving the second game of a two-game suspension for his red card in last year’s playoff semifinals. Maltese forward Etienne Barbara, the 2011 North American Soccer League MVP, is questionable with a lower leg injury, leaving the offensive onus on Simone Bracalello and Miguel Ibarra. Offseason signing Max Griffin could also make his debut for Minnesota after recovering from a preseason leg injury.
Last in scoring in the NASL in 2012, Edmonton has scored in each of its first two games, but has the goalposts to blame for not managing more goals and more points.
Edmonton head coach Colin Miller told NASL.com he think his team “played well enough to get three points from both of [its] first games on the road … and [was] unlucky to come away with only one.”
Lagos agrees that Edmonton has been unlucky and called the squad “much improved” over last year’s squad. Helping lead that charge is former Minnesota midfielder Neil Hlavaty, who signed for FC Edmonton as a free agent during the offseason after three seasons in Minnesota. Hlavaty has played every minute so far for Edmonton and wore the captain’s armband in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss against the Carolina RailHawks.
“Anytime you play former players, there’s a bit of emotion involved for the players and the club,” Lagos said. “I think Edmonton right now is a hard-working team, and Neil exemplifies that kind of attitude. I’m not surprised he’s leading the team as captain.”
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