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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You won't find Minnesota United's 2-0 win over Edmonton on Wednesday night anywhere in the NASL standings, but for head coach Manny Lagos, it was important all the same - if for no other reason than to help erase the memories of the team's collapse at the end of spring's first half of the season.
"I just thought it was important for us to get a win, in a weird way," he said. "Even if it was an exhbition and not the league, I thought it was important that the guys came out and reminded themselves that they are good players. That’s the thing about this game, the stress sometimes causes you to forget that."
Max Griffin scored moments before halftime, and Simone Bracalello added another near the hour mark, just seconds after coming on as a sub. Maybe more importantly, the Matt Van Oekel-led defense kept a clean sheet, their first since April 20.
Griffin continued his record of scoring in preseason games, and was just happy to get back on the scoresheet after struggling in the first half of the season.
"Now that I’m healthy again, I’m trying to stay that way, because once I get on form I know I have the ability to score goals," said the forward, who said he was at 100% after his first-half injuries. "I just have to stay healthy and the goals will eventually come."
Asked how he could get his confidence back, Griffin said, "It’s just a matter of scoring goals and not losing not losing the ball. If I do those two things it should be good. Whenever I score goals, I’m happy. "
It's worth noting that Edmonton played what was basically its starting lineup, though they substituted freely in the second half. Still, this was virtually the same Edmonton team that waxed Minnesota 3-1 just a few weeks ago, and Lagos wants his team to get back into that competitive mindset. "I think the team has got to reboot and get excited about the second half of the season," he said. "It was a good test to play against a team that was playing its first eleven, and came into it playing hard. I was proud of the guys; I think we came through well and played really well."