For the second straight year, Minnesota Stars FC will head to Florida with a two-goal cushion in the NASL Championship Series.
The sixth-seeded Stars won the first leg of the series at home on Saturday night, grabbing a 2-0 upset win over the No. 2 seed Tampa Bay Rowdies as NSC Stadium. Both goals came in the second half, with Amani Walker and Martin Nunez each finding the back of the net to send the 4,642 fans in attendance into a frenzy.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair and although both teams created chances, neither was able to break the deadlock prior to halftime. That changed in the 67th minute when Walker one-timed a shot past Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, and an insurance goal was added in the final minute of stoppage time when Nunez stabbed home a flicked header from Connor Tobin.
If history is any indicator, the Rowdies are in trouble. Minnesota had a two-goal lead after the first leg of last year’s NASL Championship Series and that wound up being enough as the Stars and Ft. Lauderdale Strikers played to a scoreless draw in the second leg in South Florida.
The second leg of this series will be played on Saturday at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. Aggregate goals will determine the winner but if things are level after 90 minutes, there will be a 30-minute extra time. Penalty kicks will follow if the score remains even.
What do you think of the Stars’ upset win over the Rowdies? Do you see Tampa Bay making a series of it in the second leg?
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