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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Connor Tobin scored with effectively the last kick of the match, bulling a deflected cross into the nett with his shoulder, to give Minnesota United a 3-2 win over the San Antonio Scorpions. Pablo Campos scored the other two goals of the match for United, which sent the Scorpions to their fifth loss in five fall-season games, and their first under interim coach Alen Marcina.
This was a game that Minnesota had to win - not only to get back into the NASL race, but to stave off more questions about how one of the more talented teams in the league had ended up in seventh place after four weeks of the fall. The win moved them up to third place, one win away from first-place Carolina.
Walter Ramirez opened the scoring for San Antonio in the 14th minute, a goal that came from - once again, for United - a set piece. Ramirez latched on to a partial clearance, and had time to set himself and hit a looping shot into the far corner of the net, one that goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel had no chance to save.
Campos, though, equalized before halftime, using his imposing presence to create a goal out of nothing. Scorpions defender Kevin Harmse appeared to have walled off Campos from a ball that was rolling towards San Antonio keeper Pat Hannigan, but Campos managed to hurry Harmse and get a touch on the ball that rebounded off Hannigan. With the defender and Hannigan thus colliding, all Campos had to do was poke the ball into the net to make things 1-1.
Five minutes into the second half, it was Campos again scoring a solo goal, running down a long pass and smashing a powerful shot underneath Hannigan to make it 2-1. And when Scorpions midfielder Jeff Jennings was sent off in the 58th minute for a terrible two-footed lunge on Cristiano Dias, it appeared United could cruise to victory.
Of course, this being Minnesota, it's never that easy. Twelve minutes from the end, San Antonio Tomasz Zahorski uncorked a goal of the season candidate, a 25-yard strike in the run of play that leveled things at 2-2.
United pressed for the final ten minutes, but it wasn't until the fifth minute of stoppage time that Minnesota got the ball to the net - and Tobin popped up to save Minnesota's season.
NOTE: The NASL will likely be taking a look at some postgame antics between Harmse and Campos. The two came together after the final whistle, presumably because of some in-game disagreements. Harmse took the opportunity to punch Campos in the crotch; the Minnesota striker retaliated by karate-chopping Harmse in the neck. As Harmse went down like he'd been stabbed, San Antonio's Esteban Bayona sprinted over to give Campos an enthusiastic two-handed slap to the face, at which point all pugilists were separated by an onrushing cavalry of peacemakers from both sides.
Between Jennings' terrible tackle and the post-game dustup, one would think that suspensions of some kind may be forthcoming from the league.