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 United head coach Manny Lagos, the most frustrating thing about last week's loss to San Antonio wasn't the meaningless goal the team gave up in the 91st minute - it was that his team was behind after 45 seconds. It was reminiscent of Minnesota's loss at Fort Lauderdale three weeks earlier, when his team allowed goals in the second and 14th minutes, and couldn't quite catch up, losing 2-1.
"In both of our last two road losses, I think the early goal was a bigger concern for me," said Lagos. "It's important tonight that we start strong defensively and stay strong for the whole game. Injuries and disconnect [on defense] have been difficult, and I think certainly the back four hasn't been as consistent as it should have been."
San Antonio and Fort Lauderdale are tied for last in the NASL - but United hasn't beat either one this year, losing to both on the road. "In both of those games, we gave them confidence by giving up an early goal, and we lost a bit of confidence by doing that as well," said Lagos. "Tonight's a great opportunity for us to hopefully start strong and finish strong."
Preview and injuries
Included in the article are injury updates; from my conversation with Lagos this morning, I can add that striker Geison Moura will also be out against Fort Lauderdale tonight. Moura had been starting alongside Pablo Campos in the attack; with him out, I would expect to see Travis Wall get the start up front for Minnesota.
Lagos also said that Simone Bracalello and Max Griffin will be available tonight, though whether either will be able to start after missing time is anyone's guess.
Bring your books, get some soccer
Horrible pun alert: Admission to tonight's game will cost you twelve bucks - or five books. United's book drive is in support of 13-year-old Maria Keller, who is attempting to distribute millions of books - really - by her 18th birthday, through Read Indeed. It's a good cause, and an easy way to get into the Dome.