united fc gameday
6:30 p.m. vs. Atlanta at Silverbacks Park
Watch: Free web stream at www.nasl.com
Preview: With a three-point lead atop the North American Soccer League standings and just two matches remaining, United can clinch the spring season championship. A Minnesota victory or draw on Saturday coupled with losses by New York and San Antonio locks up a spot in the fall playoffs.
United FC at a glance: How well Minnesota (5-1-1) runs on backup parts will determine its success. Three starters are missing due to injury: Goalkeeper Matt VanOekel and defenders Tiago Calvano and Kevin Venegas. In addition, starting defender Cristiano Dias and reserve midfielder Omar Daley are serving one-game suspensions after receiving red cards and getting ejected from last week's match against Carolina.
A reserve-laden United lineup responded on Wednesday, winning 1-0 at Des Moines in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament. Minnesota advances to play June 18 at Sporting Kansas City, defending champions of Major League Soccer.
"I was really proud of the way guys stepped up," United coach Manny Lagos said. "We have a lot of guys who have handled their own adversity of wanting to play more and I think they've shown great leadership."
Atlanta at a glance: The Silverbacks (3-4) would love to take advantage of Minnesota's depleted defensive corps. Whether they can is the question. Atlanta's eight goals scored is tied for seventh in the 10-team NASL. The Silverback's 15 goals allowed is tied for most in the league.
"Maybe they haven't been scoring but they have unique offensive weapons," Lagos said. "We're facing a big challenge."
DAVID LA VAQUE