View Full Version : NASL: Stars top Rowdies 1-0 in home opener

04-26-2010, 12:12 PM
The NSC Minnesota Stars weathered two storms - one from the sky and one from the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies - en route to a chippy 1-0 victory in the first home game in the team's short history that moved their 2010 record to 2-2-0.

Three points is three points was the Stars' sentiment after the game.

"It wasn't nice, but we got the result," Stars center back Andres Arango said. "That's what you've got to do to get to the playoffs."

Leilei Gao converted a penalty kick in the 34th minute after Gordon Klejstan was sent off for elbowing Andres Arango in the face. The game featured eight cards, including two red cards in the 32nd minute after Klejstan's elbow sparked an altercation between several players.

The Stars started the game with a few minutes of good possession around the Tampa Bay penalty box, but they couldn't find the final ball to create any shots on goal. Tampa had the first shot at goal, a weakly struck ball that floated into Joe Warren's arms.

The first quality opportunity belonged to the Stars in the 14th minute. Gao cut past his defender on the left wing and drove a cross to the back post. The ball eluded Tampa Bay goalkeeper Daryl Sattler and fell to Melvin Tarley, but Tarley's first touch let him down and the ball rolled over the endline before he could get a shot off. Seconds later, Tarley did put the ball into the net after latching onto a through ball, but the referee whistled the play dead for offside just as the ball hit the back of the net.

Kyle Altman became the first player booked in the 16th minute for having words with match referee Landis Wiley after a collision on the left wing.

The Stars had another good scoring chance in the 27th minute, but Tampa Bay's defense retreated well to bail Sattler out. Sattler came out to punch Kevin Friedland's long throw in clear, but he couldn't get enough on his clearance. Andrei Gotsmanov collected the loose ball at the top of the box, but his left-footed shot was cleared off the line.

Tampa Bay's Jeremy Christie followed Altman into the book in the 28th minute, picking up a delayed yellow card for a sliding tackle that left Gotsmanov limping for a few minutes. The physical game reached a boiling point four minutes later. As Arango and Klejstan jumped for a looping ball in the Tampa penalty area, Klejstan's swinging elbow caught Arango in the face. Wiley reached for the red card in his back pocket immediately, but as he dealt with Klejstan, a scuffle erupted off the ball between Stars defender Brian Kallman and several Rowdies players. Despite his teammates' efforts to pull him away from the altercation, Kallman soon found himself joining Klejstan on an early march back to the locker room.

Both Klejstan and Kallman will automatically be suspended one game. The United States Soccer Federation will review tape of the affray early next week.

From the ensuing penalty kick, Gao placed the ball inside Sattler's right post, just out of the keeper's reach. It was Gao's first goal of the season, and the Stars' third overall.

Down to 10 men and fatigued from three long road trips to open the season, the Stars contented themselves with absorbing pressure for the rest of the game. In the final hour, Tampa held a significant possession advantage, but could never find a way past the Star's Joe Warren.

"It doesn't matter how much possession you get, if you don't score," Tampa Bay coach Paul Galglish said after the game, lamenting his team's lack of a killer instinct in front of goal. "Our possession needs to turn into possession with a purpose."

Altman dropped back from midfield into central defense after Kallman's red card, and he and Arango gelled quickly to keep the Rowdies at bay.

"One of my attributes is I'm very versatile," Altman said. "Andres and I communicate a lot and are in touch when I'm in the midfield, so it feels natural when I slide into defense next to him."

NSC Minnesota picked its forays forward very carefully once the game was down to 10-on-10. In first half stoppage time, Tampa Bay deflected a Gao shot inside the penalty area. The looping ball changed directions drastically and nearly wrong-footed Sattler, but the Tampa keeper recovered to barely tip the ball out of play before Johnny Menyongar could pounce on a rebound.

As the second half wore on, Tampa Bay controlled more and more possession. Despite his team's inability to hold onto the ball, Stars head coach Manny Lagos said he was pleased with how well his players stayed organized.

"The second half was hard, because we were so tired," he said. "I have to give these guys credit for how well they kept their shape."

The Stars were lucky not to go down to nine men in the 68th minute. Substitute Aaron King got behind the Stars defense, and Arango used a handful of jersey to slow him down. King continued running, though, and was awarded the advantage. He eventually took a shot, and Arango was only cautioned for the jersey pull.

In the 87th minute, the Rowdies almost found their equalizer. Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe ran onto a through ball and blasted a shot goalward from about eight yards out, but Arango slid bravely in front of his effort, knocking it out of bounds off the small of his back.

"That's a defender's job," Arango said. "Forwards get paid to score goals, defenders get paid to keep shutouts."

Tampa created another chance to tie it up from the following corner kick. Adjeman-Pamboe got the ball back on the right side after his initial cross drifted through the area. His second attempt found Julian Valentin unmarked near the penalty mark, but his header was too close to Warren, who caught it to preserve the shutout.

The Stars held on through five minutes of stoppage time, clearing each attempt as Tampa sprayed balls into the box looking for the one lucky bounce that would never come.

"It wasn't the prettiest," Altman said, "but our main concern was making sure it stayed at Tampa zero."