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.
Minnesota United FC drew 3-3 with Tampa Bay Saturday night, thus clinching the NASL spring championship and the first league playoff spot of 2014. The win means that Minnesota will host at least the first round of the NASL playoffs, and has the inside track to clinch the #1 overall seed.
It certainly wasn't easy for United, who led both 1-0 and 3-2 but had to hold on for nearly twenty white-knuckle minutes to close the game. Justin Davis put United ahead in the twelfth minute, but Blake Wagner and Lucky Mkosana scored first-half goals - the latter in first-half stoppage time - to give the Rowdies a 2-1 lead.
To United's credit, they came roaring back in the second half, and in a five-minute span, Jamie Watson set up Daniel Mendes to tie the game, before Christian Ramirez did the same for Miguel Ibarra to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
WIth a half-hour to go, Minnesota appeared to be crusing comfortably, but Tampa's Frankie Sanfilippo bundled home a corner in the 74th minute, tying the game at 3-3, and giving United fans occasion to chew their collective fingernails down to the quick.
A smiling Manny Lagos was nothing but positive following the game. "It was a great game," he told the TV broadcast. "It took a lot for us to win the spring championship, we had to go on the road twice and get results."
The draw sends United into the summer break on a positive note. The team now has the playoffs, a US Open Cup trip to Kansas City, and a pair of summer friendlies against the Mexico U-21 team and Swansea City all to look forward to. Minnesota is using the slogan "Summer of Soccer" to advertise themselves over the warmer months; for now, their summer is certainly living up to the hype.
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