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Daily Power Rankings: The 5 Most Important Matches in MNUFC History, before joining MLS

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We take you through our five most important matches in Loons history in their time before Major League Soccer

National Sports Center Stadium: Former home of Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United FC/mnufc.com

Today we bring back our Daily Power Rankings, last time we talked about MNUFC it was the 5 Most Important Matches since joining MLS. This time it’ll be in the same vain but just a bit different.

Today’s Topic:

The 5 Most Important Matches in MNUFC history, before the MLS era

The Pre-MLS era of MInnesota United gives us a total of seven years to find some of the most important matches in club history. Three of which I would argue are more important than some in our MLS list.

During the clubs time in the NASL (and a season in the USSF D2 Pro League) Manny Lagos led the team as manager for 6 of the 7 season. In 2016 the club was led by Carl Craig in his one and only season at the helm.

No. 5: 2016 NASL Regular Season Match 32, Home vs New York Cosmos

The final match in pre-MLS history saw the Cosmos travel out from New York to Blaine to cap off MNUFC’s existence in the NASL.

8,609 fans turned out to Nessie to watch MNUFC’s final game in Blaine on a late October, Saturday night. Just four minutes into the second half it would be New York’s Eric Calvillo scoring what would end up being the only goal of the match.

Unfortunately this stopped the team from going out strong with a win as the playoffs were already not an option heading into that final match.

No. 4: 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Second Leg, Away @ Tampa Bay Rowdies

The 2012 season was just as tenuous during the regular season as 2011 and the standings would end the same for the then named NSC Minnesota Stars that year. The Stars would finish 6th in the 8 team league and take the final playoff spot that season. After reaching the playoffs the Stars would have to battle to get to the Soccer Bowl.

A road win against the Puerto Rico Islanders set them up against the San Antonio Scorpions, whom they would beat 2-1 on aggregate to get into Soccer Bowl. Similar to 2011 they would play a Florida team, this time rather, it was the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Minnesota would win 2-0 at home in the first leg but the second leg would be completely different. Tampa Bay would score in the 25th and 51st minutes before the Stars would get their only goal of the night just a minute later. With the Rowdies down 3-2 on aggregate all NSC MN had to do was hold the score but Tampa Bay would put one past Van Oekel in the 86th minute. Being tied on aggregate meant under NASL rules they would head to penalty kicks, which the Rowdies would take 3-2.

No. 3: 2016 NASL Regular Season Match 4, Home vs New York Cosmos

The first and only win MNUFC took against the New York Cosmos was in their final season in the NASL. The Cosmos came to town for the Loons second home match of the season. A very chippy game would see 8 yellow cards, including a second Yellow resulting in a red card, issued to Minnesota’s Damion Lowe in the 53rd minute.

This would force Minnesota to play 37 minutes with only 10 men as a crowd of 9,078 looked onward. In the 90th minute Christian Ramirez would score the only goal of the match to give MNUFC the win and send the fans home happy with a Wonderwall.

No. 2: 2011 NASL Soccer Bowl First Leg, Home vs Fort Lauderdale Strikers

After an improbable playoff run, 6th place Minnesota would make the 2011 NASL Soccer Bowl Championship. Being the lower seed they would host the first of the two legs at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The largest crowd of the season, 4,511 fans, came out to see the then named Stars hosted the Strikers in late October.

Just four minutes in Neil Hlavaty scored a PK to give NSC MN a lead they would hold for most of the night. The Strikers would tie the match in the 52nd minute but Minnesota took the lead back just a minute later and capped off the night with a third goal in the 77th minute. The biggest game up to that point put the Stars in the drivers seat to win the NASL Championship.

No. 1: 2011 NASL Soccer Bowl Second Leg, Away @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Arguably the biggest game arguably in the entire history of Minnesota United, pre or post joining MLS, took place on October 29th, 2011. NSC Minnesota had just won 3-1 in Blaine one week prior to take the aggregate lead in the two game series. A fairly large crowd of 6,849 packed Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale to see the finale of the 2011 NASL season.

Neither team managed a goal on the night which was good enough for the Stars as the result gave them the 2011 Soccer Bowl Championship. The night ended with the fans who made the trek down, drinking Surly out of the Championship trophy at a local bar with the players. This would give way to the Dark Clouds and now Wonderwall singing “At Crappy Old Lockhart” in the 11th minute of every match to commemorate the club’s only league title to date.

Have thoughts on today’s rankings? Let us know in the comments section below!