Pablo Campos scored twice for Minnesota United FC in the second half, the second goal deep into second-half stoppage time, to lift United over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1 at the Metrodome.
The victory put United in a tie for second in the league, one point behind the Carolina RailHawks with three games left in the spring season. With a bye next week, United was desperate to win to get near the top of the standings.
“We needed that,” coach Manny Lagos said. “We had a couple of down weeks in terms of results — and not just that, in terms of things not going our way. For us, with the bye week coming up, it was a big deal to get the three points.”
As the clock stopped on 90 minutes, United looked to be heading for a disappointing draw — one caused by yet another early goal conceded, nine minutes in. Goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel failed to settle a back-pass, then took too long to clear the ball, and Strikers forward Darnell King blocked his attempted clearance and slid the ball easily into the open goal. It was a calamitous error by Van Oekel, and it gave Fort Lauderdale an early 1-0 lead, exactly what United hoped to avoid.
For the rest of the first half, the United had the run of play, but cross after cross went awry, and shot after shot flew high and wide. United had 12 attempts at goal in the opening half, but only four were on goal — a number that doesn’t include the best chance of the half, when striker Max Griffin rolled a shot wide of an open net.
In the second half, though, United found the easiest way to tie the game — the penalty kick. Fort Lauderdale defender Scott Gordon was called for a handball in the penalty area, and Campos stepped up to take the kick, slamming it into the top corner to level the game in the 56th minute.
It might have ended there, but more than three minutes into stoppage time, Campos scored his second of the match. NASL player of the month Simone Bracalello danced away from two defenders, and lofted a cross that cleared Strikers keeper Matt Glaeser and fell to Campos, two yards out in front of the goal.
It couldn’t have been simpler, and Campos knew it. “It was a great play by Simone,” he said, “and I was at the post to head it in.”