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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For the second year in a row, Minnesota opened the NASL season in the Dome to great fanfare - and came away with a 0-0 draw. Frustration was evident from the team, but most were happy to at least to come away with a point. Head coach Manny Lagos summed it up by saying, "It didn't quite work out, but we didn't lose."
Said striker Etienne Barbara, "From the game today, I can tell that the Scorpions didn't come here to win. They were happy with a point, obviously."
Be sure you read Dave La Vaque's match report, which will be in tomorrow's print edition, but here's a few extra notes for this one:
Getting to know you: None of the United players were happy a 0-0 draw, but most of them saw positive signs for the team - and feel like success will come after they have some time to get used to each other.
When asked what the team needs to work on, Barbara was emphatic that the team just needs time in the system. "We need to know what kind of runs, what kind of movements, what kind of passes people like," he said. "We defended very good, we kept possession very good. We just need to get better in the final third and understand how each other moves."
Said defender Kyle Altman, "We just need time. It's hard to say that, given that it's a twelve-game season. But we have two weeks off now to play together and learn each other's tendencies."
The team did look a little bit hesitant on the attack, especially in the first half, as the team opened up with what was almost a five-midfielder look - sort of a 4-1-3-1-1. Barbara was the only forward, with Miguel Ibarra roaming in behind him. Simone Bracalello began as a left wing, Lucas Rodriguez on the right - they would switch, midway through the first half - and Michael Reed and Aaron Pitchkolan sat behind those three in the center.
It wasn't a traditional formation, but United did seem to get used to it as the game wore on. With no game until April 20, they have two weeks to work out the kinks.
Moment of the match: United had its three best chances in a five-minute span in the second half. Kevin Venegas, a second-half replacement at left back, and Pitchkolan both forced saves frome San Antonio keeper Pat Hannigan, but Bracalello came the closest, crashing a swerving 30-yarder off the bar, straight down, and out. The five-minute barrage was Minnesota's best chance to steal a goal in the second half.
The injury bug: Minnesota is just one game into the season, but they're already dealing with roster issues. "We were a little thin with our ability to sub," said Lagos, who was missing four attacking players, including the suspended Pablo Campos. An injury rundown:
First place: The entire NASL is still undefeated after the first round, as Tampa Bay and Carolina ended in a scoreless draw and Fort Lauderdale and Edmonton drew 1-1. Only Atlanta, which had a bye this week, is still without a point in 2013.