The Stars fell 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday night in their return home to NSC Stadium in Blaine in front of the 2,908 fans in attendance.
The Stars got off to a fast start, scoring first on a goal from forward Martin Nunez, beating Rowdies keeper Jeff Attinella near post after some nifty dribbling to put Minnesota up 1-0 in the ninth minute.
The two teams went back in forth for the rest of the first half, each with various chances to put goals on the board. Tampa Bay scored on a Frankie Sanfilippo kick off of a corner in the 34th minute, only to have it waived off on a foul call. The Stars’ best chance for a second goal in the first half came in the 41st minute on a free kick attempt from Simone Bracalello from just outside the box. Bracalello sent a screamer toward the net, but was turned away by the Rowdie goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
Momentum took a major shift toward the Rowdies on a Tsuyoshi Yoshitake goal in the 43rd minute on an open net as Stars’ goalkeeper Matt VanOekel got caught away from the goal trying to make an aggressive clear. The goal brought the game back to even as the two teams went into half at a 1-1 tie.
The Rowdies badly outplayed Minnesota in the second half, looking as the much more assertive team on both ends. They recorded numerous wonderful chances in the final 45 minutes, including a look from just in front of the net sent high by forward Daniel Antoniuk and a great look from Luke Mulholland from the right side that was turned away by VanOekel.
Tampa Bay finally broke through in the second half with the game winning strike from substitute Keith Savage from 20 yards out to give the Rowdies the 2-1 decision.
Minnesota appeared sluggish in the second half and could not seem to return to form. The bright spot was Miguel Ibarra, who created some chances from the outside on the offensive end with some nice entries, but the Stars were unable to capitalize.
The loss is the second straight in the league for Minnesota (4-5-2), who will welcome the Fort Lauderdale Strikers into NSC next Saturday at 7:30 CT.