Campos Leads United Past Strikers 3-1
Blaine, Minn. (October 26, 2013) – Pablo Campos scored two goals and added an assist to lead Minnesota United FC (5W-2T-6L, 17pts) to a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (5W-2T-6L, 17pts) in front of 2,475 at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine Saturday night. Aaron Pitchkolan also scored for United in its final home game of the 2013 season, and the final home game for player/Assistant Coach Kevin Friedland, who is retiring after 10 seasons in Minnesota.
“We’re really building something special here and I think tonight was important for that. I’m proud of the guys tonight,” said United head coach Manny Lagos. “It is so important for us to let our fans know that there are some great things about this club and that soccer is going to be here in Minnesota for many years to come.”
The first goal of the game came on a run of fast-paced play in the 10th minute. Omar Daley played a great cross-field ball where Lucas Rodriguez played the first-time ball across the goal mouth that found the boot of Campos, who calmly slotted it home for his 10th goal of the season.
Making his first career start in front of the home fans, United keeper Mitch Hildebrandt found his first test in the 20th minute after Yakiel Perez found some space on the edge of the box and fired a low shot that was saved by the quick reacting Hildebrandt.
Minnesota was forced to make an early sub in the 21st when defender Connor Tobin went down with an apparent leg injury, making way for Kevin Friedland to step on the field one final time in front of the home fans.
Minnesota decidedly went with a different strategy and formation in the match, playing a more central game in the middle third, choosing to build up vertically. United used the speed of Miguel Ibarra on the inside of the formation to pressure the Striker’s defenders down the spine of the pitch. This strategy allowed the wing backs, Kevin Venegas and Justin Davis, to push forward on the outside of the field to provide width in support.
The Strikers found the equalizer in the 28th minute on a second effort shot from the foot of Carlos Salazar. A free kick was whipped into the box and Salazar got the initial header which was cleared off the line by Friedland, only to fall right back into the path of Salazar who blasted in the half volley.
United regained the lead right before the halftime whistle on a Floyd Franks corner kick. Campos managed to knock down a pass to United captain Aaron Pitchkolan who, while being dragged down, got a sliding boot on the ball and his effort found the back of the net, good for his second goal of the season.
Mitch Hildebrandt was called on again in the 60th minute with a goal-saving push off his line. Yakiel Perez found himself wide open inside the Minnesota 18 and a quick thinking Hildebrandt rushed off his line, forcing a poor attempt from Perez.
United extended its lead in the 75th minute as Campos notched his second of the game and 11th of the season. Campos showed off his strength inside, holding off three Striker defenders and getting just enough of his toe on the ball to force it past the Strikers keeper Richard Sanchez.
The Strikers continued to press in the final stages of the match and in the 85th minute Hildebrandt had a fantastic reaction save after Perez got free inside the box yet again. The ensuing corner was cleared off the line by a litany of United defenders.
Minnesota managed to hold on for the final 5 minutes of regulation to earn the victory.
The club will play its final game of the 2013 season next Saturday, 6:00 pm in Tampa Bay against the Rowdies. Fans can attend the watch party at Brit’s Pub, or watch the game online at MNUnitedFC.com. Minnesota United is also accepting 2014 season ticket deposits, fans can call 763-4-SOCCER to place a $50 deposit on 2014 season tickets.
ASPIRE Beverages Highlights
Minnesota lineup: GK Mitch Hildebrandt; D Justin Davis, Aaron Pitchkolan (c), Connor Tobin (Kevin Friedland, 22nd), Kevin Venegas; M Lucas Rodriguez (Mike Ambersley, 84th), Kentaro Takada, Floyd Franks, Omar Daley (Brian Kallman, 89th), Miguel Ibarra; F Pablo Campos
Minnesota unused subs: GK Matt VanOekel; M Calum Mallace; F Simone Bracalello, Nate Polak
Opponent lineup: GK Richard Sanchez; D Ivan Guerrero (Gonzalo de Mujica, 78th), Stefan Antonijevic, Rafael Alvez, Darnell King; M Paulo Jr., Walter Restrepo (Bradlee Baladez, 60th), Pecka, Martin Nunez, Carlos Salazar; F Yakiel Perez
Opponent unused subs: GK Lionel Brown; D Justin Chavez, M Hosman Ramos
MNU – Pablo Campos (Lucas Rodriguez) 10th
FTL – Carlos Salazar (Unassisted) 28th
MNU – Aaron Pitchkolan (Pablo Campos) 45+3
MNU – Pablo Campos (Miguel Ibarra) 74th
FTL – Darnell King (Yellow Card) 38th
MNU – Omar Daley (Yellow Card) 45th
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