Minnesota United FC fell 1-0 to the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday afternoon at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, MN.
The loss drops United out of mathematical contention for the NASL Soccer Bowl 2013 as the best overall second-placed team should the Atlanta Silverbacks win the Fall title. A goal from Enzo Martinez in the 52nd minute was the difference in the match as the RailHawks remain in contention, requiring results to go their way elsewhere.
“I feel like we haven’t played well at home and dominated and I’m heartbroken after such a great first half," said United head coach Manny Lagos. "The lack of goal scoring chances hurts and we have to pick our heads up and try to finish the season in the right way. I was still proud of the effort today and even responding from the goal I thought we had some good chances. I was proud of the effort but am just disappointed that we can’t get the result we want.”
Minnesota saw a good early chance in the 5th minute from a Floyd Franks free kick from 35 yards out. Minnesota defender Connor Tobin got the backwards header that forced an athletic tip over the bar from RailHawks keeper Akira Fitzgerald keeping the sides level.
In 13th minute Minnesota created a chance off of solid buildup play from the midfield. Speedster Miguel Ibarra found some open space on the left wing and fed a ball into Brazilian Pablo Campos, who then threaded it to Kevin Venegas but his shot drifted wide of Fitzgerald's post.
Minnesota enjoyed their 3rd chance of the match in the 24th minute as Miguel Ibarra sent in an early through ball to Mike Ambersley, whose shot from the left edge of the 18 fell just wide of the right post. The RailHawks threatened in the 29th minute with a nice cross into the danger zone, but the shot was collected nicely by United keeper Matt VanOekel on the rain soaked pitch. The RailHawks followed this chance with a free kick from 20 yards out in the center of the field. The shot was parried by VanOekel and away from danger.
The best chance of the first half came from a Kevin Venegas cross from the right wing that found the darting near post run of Mike Ambersley, who managed a glancing header on it at the near post that bulged the outside netting.
The deciding goal, which earned the RailHawks their first road win of 2013, came in the 51st minute as RailHawks midfielder Enzo Martinez broke the deadlock on a strike from the right edge of the penalty box. It was a well struck ball that skidded beyond the outstretched gloves of Matt VanOekel.
Substitute Omar Daley found himself with the ball on the outskirts of the box in the 74th minute. A nice move got him around a RailHawks defender but his left-footed shot left a lot to be desired as it dribbled into the gloves of Fitzgerald. Miguel Ibarra tried his luck from the opposite side of the field in the 75th minute as he made a run from left wing to free himself up, but just like the Daley chance his shot goes harmlessly into Fitzgerald’s gloves.
Neither team could muster much offense or drama in the final 15 minutes as Minnesota tried to compile pressure on the RailHawks defensive backline. A Pablo Campos header from a Calum Mallace corner was the only remaining chance for United as they could not level the score. Minnesota loses for the 5th time at home in 2013.
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