Held out of action for various reasons, Minnesota Stars FC defender Brian Kallman didn't make either trip to San Antonio this season.
He will make his debut next Sunday with the season on the line.
The defending North American Soccer League champion Stars played to a scoreless draw against No. 1 seed San Antonio on Saturday at the National Sports Center in Blaine before an announced crowd of 2,006 spectators.
The two-game, total-goal semifinal series will be decided next Sunday at San Antonio. Styles contrasted on Saturday, but physical play was the common thread.
"It was a battle tonight, as it always is with this team," Kallman said. "At least we walk out with a tie. We can go there and win and go through to the finals."
The Stars, owners of the sixth and final playoff seed, moved to 0-1-4 overall against the Scorpions, who led the NASL in goals scored (46) and fewest goals allowed (27).
San Antonio (13-8-8) held the territorial edge for the first 30 minutes of the match but was edged 7-5 in shots by Minnesota (9-11-10).
San Antonio coach Tim Hankinson said his team might have played a bit tentatively.
"The important thing in the first game is to not create a deficit," Hankinson said. "Therefore you take a little bit less risk."
The Stars could not counter.
Their best scoring chances were near-misses from Jamie Watson and Miguel Ibarra. Amani Walker's golden chance was ruled offside.
In the 82nd minute, Kallman send a pass through to Walker, forcing Scorpions goalkeeper Daryl Sattler out to make a sliding save. "I don't think we should have our heads down," Stars coach Manny Lagos said. "We didn't get a goal here, so we have to figure out a way to get better."
Hankinson credited the Stars for getting off shots while his team "kind of looked for one more pass."
"They were more dangerous overall, but I think we had good opportunities," Hankinson said.
The best chance came in the 83rd minute, when NASL scoring leader Pablo Campos misfired from close range.
Kallman, who stayed home from San Antonio twice this season to rest and prevent penalty trouble, said he expects another tight game. Hankinson concurred.
"It looks like it will be a one-goal game, because that's what our series has been," Hankinson said.