United Sting the Scorpions, Win 1-0
Pablo Campos scored his ninth goal of the season to lead Minnesota United FC to a 1-0 victory over the San Antonio Scorpions Saturday afternoon at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, MN. Goaltender Matt VanOekel earned the shutout for United, who improve to 4W-2T-3L (14 pts), currently tied for 2nd in the NASL standings and just one point behind the New York Cosmos heading into next weekend’s historic showdown at the NSC Stadium.
“This is our first win at home this Fall Season,” said United Coach Manny Lagos. It was a nice gutsy performance and we figured out how to get a win at home. I was really proud of the guys in the second half. I really thought they had very few chances in the second half.”
Minnesota came into the contest off of a critical 2-1 win over FC Edmonton last week, and looked to continue their winning ways on a rain-soaked day at NSC Stadium. The Scorpions came into the match on the back of their first win of the Fall campaign and similarly hoped the momentum would carry into the Saturday afternoon contest.
Both Minnesota and San Antonio fielded offensive-minded lineups, choosing to run three forwards up top. Minnesota came out strong and did well to control possession in the middle third and enabled Campos and Mike Ambersley to play off of one another in the attacking zone. The Scorpions showed promise in the attacking third with NASL goal leader Hans Denissen and the streaking forward Tomasz Zahorski.
The first chance good chance for United came in the 22nd minute as Ambersley fired a shot from outside looking to score his first goal for the club, but it was successfully gathered by Scorpions keeper Jeremey Vuolo. Minnesota found themselves with a free kick in a dangerous spot 30 yards out in the 32nd minute. Calum Mallace initially stepped over the attemp and it was the Italian, Simone Bracalello, who fired a shot that appeared to be dipping under the Scorpions crossbar before Vuolo punched the attempt over the bar, ending the danger.
The Scorpions most dangerous moment of the first 45 minutes came on a breakaway opportunity from Tomasz Zahorski. United keeper Matt VanOekel was indecisive off his line as Zahorski galloped towards the net, but Minnesota defender Connor Tobin tracked back well and saved the chance with a well-timed slide tackle.
Each team entered the locker room at half feeling they should have found the back of the net, but the sides remained deadlocked at 0-0. ”It was kind of chunky for us and we couldn’t get a rhythm,” said Lagos. ”San Antonio put three in the back and five in midfield and we had a hard time dealing with it.”
Minnesota quickly threatened 10 minutes into the second half as Calum Mallace found space and slid a through ball into Simone Bracalello, who found Mike Ambersley on the left side of the box but Scorpions keeper Jeremy Vuolo was up to the task and pushed Ambersley’s attempt wide.
Just six minutes later in the 61st minute, United finally broke through on a set piece. Bracalello swung in a corner from the left wing that curled right into the path of the on-rushing Campos, who buried it on the volley. “We had a clean sheet finally and we held them until the end of the game. We now have a good chemistry at home and we need to keep that going.” Said Campos, “It is always good to score goals so today I did that and I’m happy. Good weekend.”
Campos nearly doubled his total in the 79th minute as Mallace dipped inside the Scorpions 18 and fired a ball across the face of the goal, but all Campos could manage was to get the outside of his boot onto the ball and it drifted just over the crossbar.
The final 15 minutes of the match were action-packed as the Scorpions continued to press, leaving gaps in their back line and opportunities for United to counter-attack.The Minnesota defense remained staunch and with the help of team captain Connor Tobin and Minnesota native Brian Kallman, were able stave off the offensive onslaught and hold on for a much-needed three points to keep their hopes alive to reach the 2013 NASL Soccer Bowl.
Minnesota United returns to action next Saturday in a historic showdown with the New York Cosmos. The Cosmos return to Minnesota for the first time in 32 years where a record crowd watched at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, MN. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM at NSC Stadium, tickets are available by calling 763.331.8777 or on at www.MNUnitedFC.com.
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Minnesota lineup: GK Matt VanOekel; D Cristiano Dias, Aaron Pitchkolan, Connor Tobin (c), Brian Kallman; M Miguel Ibarra, Floyd Franks (Michael Reed, 20th), Calum Mallace; F Simone Bracalello (Sinisa Ubiparipovic, 62nd), Mike Ambersley (Max Griffin, 83rd), Pablo Campos
Minnesota unused subs: GK Mitch Hildebrandt; D Kevin Venegas, Justin Davis; M Omar Daley
Opponent lineup: GK Jeremy Vuolo; D Logan Emory, Greg Janicki, Blake Wagner (Walter Ramirez, 69th), Luka Vucko (c); M Stephen DeRoux, Javier Saavedra, Edin Husic (Jeff Jennings, 81st); F Hans Denissen, Borja Rubiato (Esteban Bayona, 58th), Tomasz Zahorski
Opponent unused subs: GK Pat Hannigan; M Sean Arters
MNU – Pablo Campos (Simone Bracalello) 61st
MNU – Simone Bracalello (Yellow Card) 43rd
SAS – Blake Wagner (Yellow Card) 67th
SAS – Edin Husic (Yellow Card) 72nd
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