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.
Email Jon to talk about soccer.
Be sure to read David La Vaque's profile of United midfielder Edi Buro in today's paper; it's a great story about a remarkable player. His preview box, which focuses on Etienne Barbara's return to Minnesota after ripping United coach Manny Lagos, is also online.
In their own words
United saw five new arrivals over the summer break, and while Calum Mallace and Sinisa Ubiparipovic have played most of the first two games of the fall season, we've yet to see much from the other three. Midfielder Floyd Franks has made a couple of appearances as a late sub, and forward Mike Ambersley played the final ten minutes in Fort Lauderdale last week. Meanwhile, winger Omar Daley has yet to appear in an NASL game.
Franks and Ambersley are NASL veterans, so longtime fans of the league will know about them. But for those fans who don't know much about them, an introduction - in the players' own words.
Ambersley: "I see myself fitting in very nicely. They have Pablo [Campos] who’s a proven goalscorer, a big guy, a target forward, and in the past I’ve always played well with a big target forward who can hold the ball up and I can make runs in behind. It’s kind of a dual threat for defenses, they have to think about going up against Pablo and also thinking about a guy making a run in behind. Once I get a little more fit, I think I’ll be out there and creating havoc."
Daley: "Hopefully I can bring a bit more pace to the team, a bit more creativity - and hopefully I will get a few goals."
Franks: "[I'll be playing] in the center [midfield] for sure. That’s my position. I see myself fitting there, and whether or not I’m in it every week, I’ll be here working hard and trying to earn that spot."
There, indeed, you have it: a second forward, a speedy winger, and a midfield stalwart.
For a team that was decimated by injuries in the spring, United is remarkably healthy. Both Brent Kallman and Kevin Friedland are listed as probable on the injury report this week; though neither is likely to start, there's no doubt that their presence in training has been a bonus for the team.
It's also worth mentioning that Ambersley, who missed much of the first half with a knee injury, says that he's back at 100%, as well. "I got over that probably two months ago," he said. "[Tampa Bay coach] Ricky [Hill] was easing me in towards the final stretch. I think I came off the bench in three games, got my fitness, and then started the last two and did fine. And then once I got fully fit, we had a month break; it’s not ideal. I was fit in the second preseason at Tampa, and then I find out I get traded, and it takes me a week to get my family down here. So while I’m running, I’m not playing for a full week, so that sets you back maybe two weeks. I’ve been practicing for a full week now, and I think I’m getting close to 90 minutes fit."
Presented without further comment or emendation: Michael Reed's new haircut.
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