By FRANCO PANIZO
Minnesota Stars FC could not have picked a better time to get their first win in Puerto Rico.
The Stars upset the Puerto Rico Islanders, 2-1, in their NASL quarterfinals clash at Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel on Sunday to grab their first victory in Puerto Rico in three years. Minnesota took a 2-0 lead before halftime to silence the 2,002 fans in attendance, but the Islanders responded by late in the second half. David Foley netted in the 79th minute to inspire some confidence but there were no more late-game heroics, keeping the Stars' hopes of repeating as NASL champions alive and pairing them with the regular season champion San Antonio Scorpions in the two-legged semifinals.
In the other quarterfinals match, the Carolina RailHawks rolled pasted the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, 3-1, in front of a crowd of 2,534 at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday. The RailHawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Strikers pulled one back but Carolina made sure there would be no comeback when former Strikers forward Brian Shriver assisted on Ty Shipalane's second goal of the match, setting up a semifinals date with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Those results set up a pair of NASL playoff semifinal clashes between Tampa Bay and Carolina, and San Antonio and Minnesota.
Here is the remaining playoff schedule in NASL:
NASL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
SATURDAY- Tampa Bay Rowdies at Carolina RailHawks
SATURDAY- San Antonio Scorpions at Minnesota Stars FC
OCT. 13th- Carolina RailHawks at Tampa Bay Rowdies
OCT. 14th- Minnesota Stars FC at San Antonio Scorpions
OCT. 20-21- TBA vs. TBA (NASL Championship Series first leg)
OCT. 26th-28th- TBA vs. TBA (NASL Championship Series second leg)
What do you think of Minnesota upsetting Puerto Rico? Impressed with Carolina's win over Ft. Lauderdale? Who do you see reaching the NASL Championship Series?
Share your thoughts below.