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News around the NASL: 4/23/10

Minnesota gets ready for season opener against Tampa Bay

BLAINE, Minn. (April 23, 2010) – After three consecutive road games to begin
the 2010 USSF D-2 Pro League season, the NSC Minnesota Stars will get a
chance to play in front of their own fans for the first time ever on
Saturday, April 24, at 7 p.m. inside the NSC Stadium in Blaine.

The Stars’ opponent is FC Tampa Bay, another expansion team.

The Stars began the season with a 2-0 loss at Vancouver on April 11, a 1-0
win at Carolina on April 16, and a 3-1 loss at Puerto Rico on April 21.
After three long trips in two weeks, the Stars are excited to have a game
that doesn’t require getting on a plane.

The home field advantage will also allow head coach Manny Lagos to dress a
full squad of 18 players for the first time this season after traveling with
fewer players to open the season. Lagos will welcome the extra options on
his bench, but he’s most pleased about being able to involve all his players
in game day procedures.

“I’m excited for all the guys to be involved in the game day process,” Lagos
said. “A lot goes into getting ready to play and it’s not just the starting
11 or the 18 on the gameday roster, but everyone who trains hard everyday.”

Tampa Bay enters the match with a 1-0-0 record after winning its only game
of its short existence. Forward Aaron King scored in the 64th minute against
Crystal Palace Baltimore.

The Stars and FC Tampa Bay have more in common that just being expansion
franchises. In its only game so far this season, Tampa Bay lined up with a
formation very similar to the Stars’, with four defenders, two defensive
midfielders, two outside midfielders who make deep runs in the offensive
third, an attacking central midfielder, and a lone striker.

Beyond the similarity in formation, Lagos said it’s hard to know what to
expect from a team with so little history. It’s not a completely unfamiliar
situation for the Stars though, as two of their three opponents this season

“It’s tough playing a new team because they’re a bit of an unknown,” he
said. “But that’s the way it’s been for us this year.

Tickets for Saturday night’s game are still available. Prices start at $8
for youth and $13 for adults. For ticket information, contact the Stars’
ticket office by phone at (763) 792-7355 or visit www.nscminnesota.org.

Palace looks for improvement against Puerto Rico

Baltimore, MD – Crystal Palace Baltimore look to bounce back on Saturday night after their disappointing opening day loss when they host the Puerto Rico Islanders at UMBC Stadium, 8:00pm EST. The Palace players will be desperate to get their first USSF D-2 points under their belt but will face a tough challenge against last season’s CONCACAF Champions League semi-finalists.

Head Coach Jim Cherneski, spoke ahead of the game on Saturday: “In regards to last week’s match, I think that overall we played OK. We sat back too much but we’ve worked on that in training this week; we have changed some things which I think will enable us to be more attacking. We also spent some time watching Puerto Rico’s match against Minnesota this week and they’re a very good side again this year. I think it will be a very entertaining match and one in which we’ll hopefully come out on top”.

The Puerto Rico Islanders will be in good spirits after beginning their campaign on Wednesday night with a comfortable 3-1 home victory over the NSC Minnesota Stars. The Islanders have enjoyed recent success in the league, finishing 1st in USL-1 in 2008 and 3rd last season, and will no doubt be looking to continue their good form and challenge for honors again this year. The team from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, has also enjoyed recent successes in the CONCACAF Champions League, a competition where the best club sides in North America, Central America and the Caribbean compete. In the 2008-2009 competition, the Islanders beat a host of Central American and Caribbean teams to reach the semi-finals, making it further than any Major League Soccer team. They opened their 2009-2010 CONCACAF Champions League account with a win over MLS side Toronto FC.

Tickets are only available online until 10:00am Saturday, but will be available at the UMBC Stadium gate one hour before the 8:00pm kickoff.

For those who are not able to attend the match, the game will be video streamed live at http://live.palacebaltimore.com (all technical problems with the live video stream have been resolved.)  Highlights of last week’s opening game vs. FC Tampa Bay can be seen on the same web page.

Miami FC to play friendly this weekend

Miami, Florida, April 16, 2010 – As Miami FC takes a week off from league play, the squad will participate in a friendly match this Sunday against the local pro-am team Universitario de Uruguay at Tropical Park. Kick off is set for 4 p.m.
“We have a big game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies coming up next week and it is very important for the team to continue working hard in preparation for that,” Miami FC general manager Luiz Muzzi said. “We will definitely be ready to take on that challenge.”

Miami FC recently came off a hard fought draw against the MLS-bound Vancouver Whitecaps.  Although the Blues had numerous scoring opportunities, they could not find the back of the net, as the match ended in a scoreless draw. 
Paulo Jr. had the best opportunity of the match in the second half when he blasted a booming shot from 30 yards out, forcing Vancouver goalkeeper Jay Nolly to make a spectacular save to keep the match tied at 0-0.

The Blues will face the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, May 1 at Lockhart Stadium. It will be the first match between the two clubs in the much anticipated “Florida Derby” as both teams renew an in-state rivalry that dates back over three decades.

The Miami FC reserve team was scheduled to play Universitario last week but the game was cancelled due to inclement weather.

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