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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Minnesota United lost 3-1 in Atlanta last night, which appeared to be the final nail in their fall-season coffin. After all, their loss combined with New York's 4-0 thrashing of Carolina means that Minnesota is ten points behind the Cosmos in the fall-season standings with three matches to play; there's no way they can finish ahead of New York.
However, we have to remember that the Cosmos have yet to clinch the fall-season title; both Tampa Bay (seven points behind) and Atlanta (eight) are still not technically out of the running.
It's Atlanta that we're interested in; the Silverbacks won the spring season, and if they were to also win the fall season, the team with the second-most points over both halves of the season combined would face them in the Soccer Bowl on November 9.
Now, the chances of the red-hot Cosmos blowing their lead in the standings is pretty miniscule; New York is one win away from wrapping up the fall. But, in the extremely unlikely event they did collapse, and Atlanta came back to win... here are the overall standings for the year (with, for obvious reasons, Atlanta and New York removed):
Tampa Bay.........35 Carolina..........34 Minnesota.........28 San Antonio.......27 Edmonton..........25 (eliminated) Fort Lauderdale...22 (eliminated)
So, all United needs is three wins, three wins from Atlanta, and complete collapses from New York, Tampa Bay, and Carolina.
I was going to write "stranger things have happened" at the end of this post, but that would be untrue.