Image courtesy Jeremy Olson of DigitalGopher.net
With just four games left in the season, the Minnesota Stars are close to wrapping up a playoff berth.
Last season, the Minnesota Stars took until the season's final day to clinch the final NASL playoff spot. Saturday, they have a chance to do it with three games remaining. The Stars take on FC Edmonton for the second time in three weeks; Minnesota sits in sixth place, the final playoff place, eight points ahead of both the Eddies and the last-place Atlanta Silverbacks. A Minnesota win eliminates Edmonton for sure, and Atlanta as well if the Silverbacks fail to win this weekend. (And let's face it - a draw, which keeps the gap at eight points over Edmonton with three to play, all but locks up the spot as well.)
A draw certainly looks the most likely, right now, as Minnesota's gone eight games without a win, and has drawn three matches in a row - including the recent home matchup with Edmonton, a game that finished 1-1. For their part, the Eddies are on a three-game winless streak of their own, and have won only two games away from home all year - both against Atlanta, the worst team in the league. Apart from those two games, Edmonton has managed just three draws and eight losses on the road - and has scored only four goals.
The big Stars team news this week was the signing of forward Jamie Watson for the remainder of the season on loan. Watson played this season for Orlando City in USL PRO (the country's third division), scoring five goals in 23 appearances - but he's better known through a chant that still goes up at Stars matches, as recounted by Brian Quarstad at Inside Minnesota Soccer.
Even now, if an opposing player tumbles to the ground a bit easily, the Dark Clouds supporters group immediately launch into the chant: "YOU DIVE LIKE JAMIE WATSON!" This goes all the way back to 2005, back when Watson played for MLS team Real Salt Lake, and kept hurling himself to the ground at the slightest provocation during a cup match against Stars forerunner the Minnesota Thunder.
For seven years, Thunder and Stars fans have since insisted that opposing players who go to ground remind them of Jamie Watson. And now he'll be available to appear in a Stars uniform. You couldn't make it up.