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.
First of all - check out David La Vaque's profile of forward Max Griffin from today's paper.
Asking United head coach Manny Lagos about formations usually prompts a mildly impatient response. This week, I asked him about his decision to play a 4-4-2 against San Antonio, instead of the 4-2-1-3 with which the team had begun the fall season - and his answer was no different. "For us, the system is important, but the habits that we are trying to incorporate and build off of are important as well," he said. "I think the guys embraced that for large periods of the game against San Antonio."
That said, Lagos did single out a pair of areas as impressive - the forward partnership between Pablo Campos and Mike Ambersley, and the wide midfielders and their combinations with the fullbacks. Given that I was also impressed with the central midfield and the center backs, that's everybody on the pitch. In other words, it wouldn't be surprising to see more or less an unchanged starting eleven against Edmonton tonight.
The only certain difference is with Campos, who is suspended for the game tonight. Otherwise, I've been told that the squad has no injury concerns - at least as of Thursday's practice - so Lagos has a full squad at his disposal.
Avoiding the letdown
Last time United got a late winner, they lost their next three games. Lagos, though, feels there's no comparison between the two situations. For one, United had two weeks off in the spring after beating Fort Lauderdale in the 96th minute; for another, the two squads look very different. "I think we've moved on," said the coach.
He also pointed out something else about the game following that Fort Lauderdale win, at Carolina. For most of the first half, United was in control against the RailHawks, who have proved impossible to beat at home. Minnesota took a 2-0 lead with two early goals, and only gave up a penalty to allow Carolina back within 2-1 at half.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, the late stages of the second half gave the RailHawks a 3-2 win - which prompted a slide that didn't end for nearly two months. Said Lagos of that slide, "I think we learned a lot about our team and ourselves going into that break, and about ways we could potentially improve."
The head coach feels similarly about the win over San Antonio. "I think we learned a lot about our team this weekend and I think there are a lot of positives to grow on," he said.
More on why Arguez left Carolina
Over the summer break, Minnesota traded midfielder Bryan Arguez to Carolina, in exchange for Floyd Franks. Just a couple of weeks into the fall season, though, the RailHawks released Arguez with no explanation given - and last week, we learned why. Arguez stands accused of raping a woman in DeKalb County, Georgia, while Carolina was in Atlanta for week two of the fall season. As of yesterday, he remains in jail, though he has been granted bond.
It's a 6pm start at the National Sports Center, for whatever reason this evening. The Dark Clouds supporters group has promised to ridicule anybody who accidentally shows up at 7pm.