The Stars and Eddies drew 1-1 in Edmonton earlier this month. (Photo courtesy mnstarsfc.com)
The Stars are seven points ahead of Edmonton for the final playoff spot, and a home win for Minnesota would just about finish the Eddies for the year.
The Minnesota Stars have six games remaining in their season, and it’s starting to look like things could go either way. On the one hand, the Stars are in fifth, just seven points adrift of the second-place tie between Tampa Bay and Puerto Rico. On the other hand, they’re tied for fifth with Carolina, who has a game in hand, and just seven points ahead of Edmonton and the final spot in the 2012 playoffs.
Saturday, then, is a key game, due to Edmonton coming to town. A win for the Stars would all but clinch a playoff spot with five games to go. On the flip side, a win for the Eddies would put the two teams four points apart, right back in the discussion for sixth place.
Of course, the most likely scenario seems to be a 0-0 draw. Edmonton has scored fewer goals than any other NASL team, just 20 in 22 games. Minnesota, for their part, hasn’t scored a goal in three weeks – since the two teams drew 1-1 in Edmonton on August 4.
Edmonton Player To Watch: Midfielder Shaun Saiko has more goals this year than anyone else in the game, with six, and has taken the second-most shots in the league this year. He started fast but went the entirety of June and July without scoring – something that earned him a benching early this month (a confusing message to send a team that can’t score any goals). In some ways, the message worked – the next week, Saiko scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Edmonton.
Stars Player(s) To Watch: Since losing 2-1 to Fort Lauderdale on July 18, the Stars have played five times – and scored once, with Martin Nunez getting the goal. Nunez and forward Simone Bracalello have scored five times each to lead the Stars, and have combined to score all but two of the team’s goals since the beginning of July.