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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In what felt like a must-win game, Minnesota United came through, winning 2-1 in Edmonton on Sunday afternoon. The win was United's third away win of the fall, best in the league, and gave them the distinction of being the only team to score two goals in a game in Edmonton this year.
Calum Mallace opened the scoring in the first half for Minnesota - and in doing so, proved slightly prophetic. He talked this week about wanting to score from distance, and he did exactly that, volleying a clearance past Edmonton keeper Lance Parker from 25 yards out in the 37th minute.
United's second goal came from distance, as well, though it was more due to a blunder from Parker. Simone Bracalello hit a skipping shot straight at the keeper, but Parker - in attempting to get down to smother the shot - inadvertently let it go straight through his legs, giving Minnesota a 2-0 lead with a half-hour to play.
Daryl Fordyce scored in second-half stoppage time to make it 2-1, poking home a cross after pushing Brian Kallman to the turf, but ultimately it didn't matter to the final result. (That is, except, to continue Minnesota's streak of no clean sheets since April 20, something that had at least one third-person-speaking defender riled up.)
The win moved Minnesota into a three-way tie for third place in the NASL standings, locked on 11 points with Carolina and Fort Lauderdale. The three are three points behind Tampa Bay and four behind New York - and next week, the Cosmos and Rowdies play each other.
United, meanwhile, plays at home against last-place San Antonio, the second in a pair of must-win games for Minnesota. Depending on Sunday's result from New York, a victory Saturday could well put United back within a few points of first place.