Following the Minnesota Stars 2-1 win at Heroes Park in San Antonio on Sunday, Tampa Bay will travel to Minnesota to play the first leg of the NASL Championship Series on Saturday, October 20. The match will be played at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, Minnesota at 8:30 p.m. ET. The two-leg, total-goals series will conclude a week later in St Petersburg, Florida with kickoff slated for 7:30pm EDT.
The two teams met four times during the regular season, with Tampa Bay holding a slender advantage with two wins and a draw. The teams split the games this season at NSC Stadium, and the Stars will look to build an advantage in Minnesota’s October chill before departing to Florida for next Saturday’s second leg at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“I think we’re in for an exciting series,” Stars head coach Manny Lagos said. “We have a lot of respect for Tampa Bay and what they’ve achieved in the league the last two seasons, and adapting to the styles they can throw at us is a challenge we’re really excited about.”
Minnesota began their road to the defense of the Soccer Bowl Trophy with a 2-1 win at Puerto Rico on Sept. 30 in the quarterfinal round. In the 2012 NASL Semifinals, Minnesota played to a 0-0 draw at home against San Antonio in the first leg, while defeating the Scorpions in the second leg 2-1 advancing to the finals on an aggregate score of 2-1.
With 35 points, the Stars finished in sixth place in the regular season posting an 8-11-9 record. Minnesota gave up only 33 goals this season, fourth fewest in the league. Forward Amani Walker leads the team in both goals and assists, scoring seven goals and picking up five assists during the Regular Season.
NASL Best XI selection Kyle Altman captained the Stars to their second consecutive NASL Championship Series. Last season, the Stars defeated Ft. Lauderdale to claim the Soccer Bowl Trophy.
Goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel finished fifth in the league with a goals against average of 1.20 and is sixth in the league with 77 saves. The Stars are 3-4-1 in their last eight games played.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies played to a 3-3 draw against Carolina on Saturday night, advancing to the NASL Championship Series on an aggregate score of 5-4. The Rowdies are now unbeaten in their last eight games, having lost just twice in their last 19 games.
Daniel Antoniuk led the team in scoring this season with seven goals while Mike Ambersley tied for the league lead in assists with eight. NASL Best XI selection Jeff Attinella led the league with 118 saves, while Takuya Yamada and Luke Mulholland were also selected to the 2012 NASL Best XI team.
Minnesota Stars FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
NASL Championship Series First Leg
Saturday, October 20, 2012— 8:30 P.M. EDT
Webcast: NASL on ustream
2012 Series: Tampa Bay, 2-1-1, 7 points
2011 NASL Quarterfinal: Minnesota won 1-0
2011 Series: Tampa Bay, 2-2-0, 8 points
Minnesota Tampa Bay
Head Coach Manny Lagos Ricky Hill
2012 Records 6th: 8-11-9, 35 points 2nd: 12-9-7, 45 points
Last Five Games L T W T W W T T W T
Goals Leader Amani Walker (7) Daniel Antoniuk (7)
Assists Leader Amani Walker (5) Mike Ambersley (8)
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