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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Max Griffin and Pablo Campos scored goals for Minnesota, leading United to a 3-1 road win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers - a badly-needed tally in the win column for a Minnesota team that had lost four straight league games.
All four goals in the match came in the final twenty minutes. United opened the scoring in the 73rd minute; both Pablo Campos and Max Griffin managed to get on the right side of their markers, and Campos flicked a Justin Davis cross into Griffin's path for the latter to turn home.
Three minutes later, Minnesota benefited from a stroke of luck, courtesy of the head of Strikers defender Rafael Alves. United keeper Matt Van Oekel blasted a punt to the edge of the Fort Lauderdale penalty area, where a backpedaling Alves attempted to head the ball back to keeper Richard Sanchez, only to see it loop over the goalie, off the post, and into his own net.
Minnesota has struggled to hold leads all season, though. They've also struggled to defend set pieces, so it was no real surprise when Fort Lauderdale scored from a corner, four minutes after the second United goal. Somehow, former Minnesota striker Martin Nuñez found himself all alone at the far post, and he slipped the ball underneath Van Oekel, setting up a tense final ten minutes.
United didn't see the game off until stoppage time, when Pablo Campos controlled a long ball, rounded a defender, and smashed an authoritative shot past Sanchez, who really had no hope of stopping the shot.
Beating a Fort Lauderdale team that hasn't won in three months may not feel impressive, but it puts Minnesota in the win column, someplace they haven't been since beating the Strikers in Minneapolis on June 8.