Preview: Minnesota, which won the North American Soccer League spring season and overall regular-season titles last year, returns in pursuit of greater postseason success. The Loons were ousted at home in the semifinals.
United FC at a glance: Continuity rules — Minnesota returned 12 of the 14 players who saw action in the playoff finale. The talented veteran trio of NASL most valuable player Miguel Ibarra, Christian Ramirez and Daniel Mendes will again be expected to spearhead the attack. Minnesota led the league in regular-season scoring with 47 goals. Ibarra, Ramirez and Mendes combined for 37 goals, equal to or more than five teams managed all of last season. Top newcomers are midfielders Ibson and Jonny Steele and goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock, a member of the Cameroon national team.
Tampa Bay at a glance: While Minnesota was idle the first week of the season, Tampa Bay took a 3-1 victory at San Antonio. The Rowdies built a 3-0 lead and were within minutes of shutting out the Scorpions. The Rowdies and Loons met three times last season, tying twice before Minnesota clinched the series with a 3-2 victory at Al Lang Stadium.
David La Vaque