Home Uncategorized Cinderella Minnesota has got to be the favourite for the Soccer Bowl, right?

Cinderella Minnesota has got to be the favourite for the Soccer Bowl, right?

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Maybe coach Manny Lagos plans it this way. Have his team just hang around all season, lulling the rest of the NASL into a false sense of security. Then, scrape into the playoffs — then unleash hell. The Minnesota Stars — last year’s Cinderella NASL champs — are going to have the chance to defend their title. Last year, the Stars beat the all-powerful Carolina RailHawks in a two-legged semifinal thriller, beating the likes of Etienne Barbara, Pablo Campos and coach Martin Rennie — giving him an early start on his new job as the coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps. This time, it’s the No. 1 seed San Antonio Scorpions and, well, Campos again. There’s a good chance that someone in the Dark Clouds must be in possession of some sort of Campos voodoo doll. There are many ironies that surround Minnesota’s return to the final, where they will face Canada’s Andres Arango, formed FC Edmonton forward Daniel Antoniuk and the rest of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. 1. The Stars won last year’s championship and got to this year’s championship with low seeds, and no team will be able to do that in 2013. NASL is going to a split season in 2013, with the winners of the spring and summer-fall sessions facing each other in the Soccer Bowl. There will be no more than two playoff teams. The reason for the elimination was abundantly clear in the second leg of the semifinal in San Antonio, which Minnesota won 2-1 after a scoreless first leg. The Scorpions regularly enjoyed crowds of more than 10,000 for regular season matches. But, with two weeks to prepare and promote a playoff match, the result was a gate of less than 6,700. For NASL, playoffs continue to be a money loser and, until national TV money offsets those poor playoff attendances, the two-team playoff offers a more realistic financial system. 2. The Stars might not exist next season. The league-owned team is being shopped to local investors, but there is still no official buyer. And, at the end of October, with the New York Cosmos already announced and two more expansion teams on the way, the Board of Governors could vote to stop their financial support of soccer in Minnesota. It would be awfully strange if the team that was eliminated was the holder of the league’s first two championships. Reviewing Minnesota’s 2-1 win on Sunday, you have to wonder about the voodoo doll or some other supernatural phenomenon. Maybe that missing part of the Mayan calendar had a Minnesota Stars logo on it. For the first 25 minutes, the return leg in San Antonio was going to script, The No. 1 seed Scorpions got a goal from Campos, who led the league with 20 this season. Yes, the Stars went to the Caribbean and found a way to beat Puerto Rico, but surely the playoff magic would finally have to come to an end, right? After all from mid-July to September, the Stars went on a nine-game winless streak — and only kept a playoff spot thanks to the combined ineffectiveness of Atlanta and FC Edmonton. But, Campos got sent off soon after his goal — as he couldn’t keep his temper, a selfish act in a playoff game from the man who will surely be this league’s MVP. With Minnesota a man up, San Antonio finally crumbled in the dying stages of the second half. Former Whitecap Blake Wagner got the unfortunate equalizer, an own goal to bring the Stars level. And, Simone Bracalello got the 83rd-minute winner. Really, it was inevitable, wasn’t it? And, who in their right mind would think of the Stars as an underdog against the No. 2 seed Rowdies? Heck, with the Stars’ playoff history of upsets, they’re the favourites. RELATED: Great night for NSC Minnesota, bad night for NASL (CLICK)

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