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

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United beat Atlanta 2-1; spring title remains a three-way race

Posted by: Jon Marthaler under On the road, Soccer Updated: May 31, 2014 - 9:11 PM

Greg Jordan scored his first goal for Minnesota, Christian Ramirez added his fifth of the season, and Minnesota United withstood a late Atlanta rally to stay atop the NASL standings with a 2-1 win.

United entered the night with a three-point lead on San Antonio and New York, but the Scorpions and Cosmos both won road games of their own, leaving Minnesota's lead unchanged with one game in the spring left to go. United will clinch the spring title with a win or a draw in Tampa Bay next week; they can also clinch if they lose, but San Antonio fails to beat Fort Lauderdale at home, and New York fails to beat Ottawa at home.

On this night, Atlanta had far better chances than did Minnesota. The Silverbacks had 18 shots to United's six, including several excellent chances, but only Kwadwo Poku could find a way past Mitch Hildebrandt. The Minnesota keeper denied both Poku and Jaime Chavez in the first half, and Poku and Deon McCauley in the second, allowing United to steal the win.

Jordan's goal, in the 53rd minute, came just moments after a sterling Atlanta chance, as McCauley hooked a leaping volley from inside the six-yard box just over the crossbar. United got going quickly from the goal kick, and Jordan flicked Ramirez's cross from the right just inside the far post.

Twenty minutes later, Minnesota had the ball in the net twice inside three minutes. The first, an Aaron Pitchkolan header, was judged to be offside. Ramirez's second, though - a header from a Justin Davis free kick - counted, and United had a 2-0 lead in the 72nd minute.

Poku's blast with five minutes to go made for some nervous moments for Minnesota fans, especially since it coincided with San Antonio scoring at the death in Indy to win 2-1, and New York taking the lead in Fort Lauderdale. United, though, parked all ten players in front of their own goal, and managed to hold on for the win.

Atlanta coach, and FOX soccer analyst Eric Wynalda, was highly critical of Minnesota after the match. Asked why his team lost on the Atlanta broadcast, following the game, he said, "We're not as good at rugby as the opponent."

Wynalda continued in the same vein. "It’s frustrating, because we’re better at soccer than they are," he said. "They don’t really play soccer; what they do is similar to maybe a second division [team] in England, and it worked tonight. Our guys are frustrated, because this isn’t what we signed up for. To play a pretty good style, and have opportunities to win the game… We got a good goal out of Poku, but we’re frustrated, because this sucks."

United head coach Manny Lagos was understandably less negative after his team's win. "It was a battle tonight," he said. "I thought both teams really put it in... The results didn’t go our way, so it comes down to next week."

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New England 5:30 PM
Seattle
Miami 80 4th Qtr 2:01
Boston 73
LA Lakers 39 3rd Qtr
New York 47
Arizona 2 3rd Prd 18:48
Montreal 2
St. Louis 3 3rd Prd 14:41
Washington 2
Nashville 2 2nd Prd 14:13
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 0 1st Prd 19:22
Vancouver 0
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 1st OT 3:26
Michigan State 70
Marist 48 2nd Half 15:32
Canisius 39
Fordham 32 2nd Half 18:24
Dayton 50
Manhattan 42 2nd Half
Monmouth 24
Quinnipiac 47 2nd Half 17:13
Niagara 45
Utah 27 1st Half 3:47
USC 10
Connecticut 2 1st Half 17:24
Houston 3
California 2 1st Half 18:25
Washington 4
North Dakota St 2 1st Half 18:20
Western Ill 2
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
(21) Georgia 72 2nd Half 0:36
(10) Kentucky 77
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 23 2nd Half
West Virginia 32
St Johns 26 2nd Half 18:10
Seton Hall 44
Delaware 39 2nd Half 16:51
Hofstra 36
Binghamton 25 2nd Half 14:36
UMass Lowell 46
Vermont 26 2nd Half 18:41
Hartford 26
William & Mary 31 2nd Half 14:59
Northeastern 35
Boston College 36 2nd Half 18:39
(16) North Carolina 39
Virginia 52 2nd Half 17:41
Clemson 34
(2) Connecticut 48 2nd Half
Temple 30
Arkansas 30 2nd Half 17:09
Alabama 23
Virginia Tech 44 2nd Half 18:09
Georgia Tech 43
Kansas 28 2nd Half
(3) Baylor 32
Canisius 27 2nd Half 18:37
Rider 25
Monmouth 24 2nd Half 15:42
Fairfield 27
Quinnipiac 38 2nd Half 19:00
Saint Peters 29
Butler 42 2nd Half 12:50
Creighton 37
Wichita State 27 2nd Half
Drake 29
Evansville 29 2nd Half 17:14
Indiana State 35
(18) Miss State 2:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
Villanova 2 1st Half 19:06
DePaul 3
Georgetown 2 1st Half 17:58
Marquette 2
North Texas 2 1st Half 17:34
Rice 5
Auburn 2 1st Half 16:59
(12) Texas A&M 6
(11) Arizona State 3 1st Half 15:02
Utah 7
Missouri State 0 1st Half 20:00
Northern Iowa 0
Michigan 4 1st Half 18:32
(15) Nebraska 2
Minnesota 11 1st Half 15:31
Northwestern 7
Wisconsin 2 1st Half 19:24
Illinois 2
Bradley 0 1st Half 20:00
Southern Ill 0
Florida 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
(20) Iowa 3:00 PM
(5) Maryland
(1) South Carolina 3:30 PM
Ole Miss

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