NSC Minnesota Stars
North American Soccer LeagueAugust 16, 2011
The match kicks off at 6 p.m. CDT and will be streamed live on the Stars’ website, NSCMinnesota.com. It will also be shown live on Ustream.com and NASL.com.
Both teams will be earmarking the game as a must-win as they look to regain momentum after each losing two straight. The RailHawks, who once held a double-digit points lead in the NASL, have seen that lead trimmed to six after falling 2-0 on the road to the second-place Puerto Rico Islanders Saturday night. The Stars also fell on the road, dropping a 2-0 decision to FC Tampa Bay after a 1-0 midweek loss at home against Fort Lauderdale.
In their short history, the Stars have played well against Carolina, holding a 3-1-2 advantage in the teams’ all-time series. The Stars have taken four of a possible six points this season, posting a 1-0 win and 1-1 draw against the RailHawks at NSC Stadium. The team has also won in Carolina in the past, topping the RailHawks 1-0 at Wake Med in April 2010 for the club’s first-ever win.
“These next two games are important for us coming off our first back-to-back losses this season,” Stars head coach Manny Lagos said. “We’re facing two different challenges with these games, playing the best team in the league and playing in the most difficult environment.”
In their last outing, the Stars played a solid first half against Tampa Bay, producing six shots on goal and forcing Tampa goalkeeper Jeff Attinella into several important saves. After allowing a goal right before halftime, the Stars’ offense struggled in the second half, producing only one more shot on goal and a hit goalpost. Despite failing to score, it was an improvement on last Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Fort Lauderdale, when the Stars managed only three shots on goal, none of which tested the goalkeeper.
The road trip will also mark the first games for the team following the departure of defender Jack Stewart on loan to Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas. Following the move, Lagos expressed confidence in the team’s depth on defense, with Cristiano, Chris Clements, Brian Kallman and Kevin Friedland all possibilities to fill in at center back.
During Monday’s training session, Lagos challenged his team to regain the intensity they showed August 6 in a 3-1 win against the Montreal Impact and in the first 45 minutes of Saturday’s loss to Tampa Bay.
“Right now, we need to find a way to play better, more consistent soccer for 90 minutes,” Lagos said. “We can’t rely on good spells and moments, because that’s just not good enough in this league.”