When Minnesota United striker Max Griffin was pulled down by an FC Edmonton defender in the penalty area, there was no question in Simone Bracalello’s mind that he wanted to take the resulting penalty kick.
“I like that pressure,” he said. “I live for that pressure.”
Bracalello buried the 31st-minute penalty shot, low and to Edmonton keeper Lance Parker’s right. Midfielder Lucas Rodriguez added a goal for United in the 74th minute, and Minnesota walked away with its first victory of this season, 2-0 over the Eddies.
The second Minnesota goal, like the first, came from a set piece. Defender Kyle Altman launched a free kick from near the halfway line, and Aaron Pitchkolan was able to head the ball down into Rodriguez’s path. He made no mistake, volleying home from close range to seal the victory for United.
To keep his game in shape, Rodriguez spent his offseason playing with the Missouri Comets of the Major Indoor Soccer League, a season that extended well into March.
In other words, he was right at home under the roof at the Metrodome. “You see a lot of goals scored like that in indoor soccer,” he said.
Daryl Sattler made three saves in goal for Minnesota, none more important than his save three minutes into the game. Edmonton striker Daryl Fordyce slipped between the United defenders and found himself alone on goal but couldn’t beat the onrushing Sattler.
The victory gives United four points from two home matches, with three home games left to play at the Metrodome before the team moves back outside. “I think we’re getting used to this facility,” said Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos. “It’s really hard on the depth perception, I’m noticing, which makes it tough for us to keep the ball moving quickly.”
FC Edmonton lost for the second time in three games and sits at the bottom of the league standings.
“I’m absolutely devastated that we’ve got only one point out of nine,” Eddies head coach Colin Miller said. “I genuinely believe that if we continue to play the way that we’re playing, that we’ll win more games than we lose.”