Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.

Email Jon to talk about soccer.

With things looking up, United can clinch tonight in Atlanta

Posted by: Jon Marthaler under On the road, Soccer Updated: May 31, 2014 - 9:57 AM

Minnesota United beat the Des Moines Menace 1-0 on Wednesday, thus advancing to the fourth round of the US Open Cup, where they will travel to Sporting Kansas City on June 18. It will be the team's first US Open Cup match against an MLS side since 2012, when the team - then the Minnesota Stars - destroyed Real Salt Lake 3-1 in the third round, before falling 1-0 to San Jose in the fourth round.

It’s worth remembering that, this time last year, United was bottoming out. They lost two league games in a row, putting them back in the pack in the spring-season race - then lost 1-0 to Des Moines in the Cup, at home, in the rain, in one of the more dismal soccer games any of the thousand fans in attendance could ever hope to see. Head coach Manny Lagos started his postgame interview by apologizing to all of the team’s fans. Team president Nick Rogers sent his apology out on Twitter.

Fast-forward a year, and Minnesota is riding high. They're on the way to Kansas City. They have the biggest friendly in Minnesota soccer history scheduled for July 19, when Swansea City visits. They procured a decent July 4 game, with a visit from Mexico's under-21 side that's sure to be attractive to the area Mexican population - a constituency that the team wants to reach. They're playing at TCF Bank Stadium, following the Manchester City - Olympiakos game that matches the Premier League champions against the team that wins the Greek league virtually every year. And to top it all off, they're three points on top of the league with two games to play in the spring championship, and can clinch as soon as tonight, if they beat Atlanta and other results around the league go their way..

Throw in the continued forward momentum in the front office, with the franchise setting up one of the league's best operations, and it has to be said that everything is looking up for United.

Tonight, Minnesota takes on Atlanta, last season’s spring champions. The Silverbacks’ big news this season is that they are now managed by former US National team star Eric Wynalda, who is splitting time between being Atlanta’s coach and being an analyst for FOX Soccer. Both ownership and Wynalda insist that the team doesn’t need the coach on site at all times; after seven games, Atlanta is in seventh and has the league’s worst goal differential, so at best the jury is still out on the arrangement.

The Silverbacks are led by forward Jamie Chavez, who has scored twice already this week - once in Atlanta’s win at Edmonton last Saturday, once in their midweek US Open Cup win against FC Chattanooga. Salvadoran midfielder Junior Burgos also scored twice in midweek; he began the season coming off the bench, but has made two May starts and may be in line for another tonight.

Meanwhile, United’s defense is limping - in some cases quite literally. Center back Cristiano Dias is suspended after being sent off last Saturday against Carolina, and goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel is missing as well with an ankle injury. With center back Tiago Calvano also a doubt, owing to a hamstring injury suffered last week, and right back Kevin Venegas still missing with a broken jaw, United could be playing three backup defenders and a backup goalkeeper this week. Aaron Pitchkolan will likely slide back to center back to replace Dias, and if Calvano can't go, Brent Kallman could make his second NASL start.

Minnesota's big squad news is that Australian attacker Richard Garcia - who signed a month ago, but had his arrival delayed by US Customs - is in Atlanta and with the team. Garcia's arrival brings the squad up to 19, with only 18 players allowed in the gameday squad, so it remains to be seen whether United will throw him directly in with the team, or whether he'll have only next Saturday's game as a chance to make an impact.

Mitch Hildebrandt will again start in goal, and will be backed up by Andrew Fontein, who was the reserve on Wedensday against Des Moines, as well. The 24-year-old started three games for Tampa Bay last year, and made a substitute appearance in Minnesota's wild 6-4 season-ending win in Tampa.

Last season, Atlanta clinched the spring championship at the National Sports Center, and celebrated wildly on United's field - something that incensed a number of Minnesota players. One can assume that, should United clinch tonight, celebrations at Silverbacks Park will be rather unrestrained. 

David La Vaque's preview box for the game is here.


Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 7:30 PM
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
Sacramento St 47 FINAL
Seattle 66
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
CS-Bakersfield 74
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 55 FINAL
Old Dominion 61


question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters