In the final regular season meeting between the sides, Minnesota Stars FC hosts the red-hot Tampa Bay Rowdies at NSC Stadium in Blaine, Minnesota on Thursday night. There is no shortage of familiarity between the two sides, as this will be their fourth meeting in just over a month.
The Stars last two matches highlight the inconsistency that has plagued the side in recent weeks. The Stars defeated second place Puerto Rico Islanders in convincing, 4-0 fashion, before falling 2-0 to the rock-bottom Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday. With just two wins in the last eight, the Stars are struggling to find the form that saw them go nine games unbeaten to start the 2012 season.
The Stars face a tough test facing the hottest team in the league at the moment. The Rowdies, on a four-match winning streak, caught a break by not playing Saturday, and will have more time to rest and prepare than their opponents. On the Fourth of July, the Rowdies won their fourth consecutive win on the season, defeating rivals Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-1 in the third Florida Derby match of the season.
In the last meetings between the two sides, the Rowdies defeated the visiting Stars 2-0 in St. Petersburg. The win came just two weeks after defeating the Stars 2-1 in Minnesota. The attacking masterclass of Rowdies’ forward Tsuyoshi Yoshitake was on display in both matches, the Japanese forward exhibiting why he was recognized as the NASL Player of the Month for June with a goal in both matches.
With just a point separating the teams in the standings, this could be billed as a six-point match in the grand scheme of things. Historically, the Rowdies have the edge in this series, holding an undefeated 4-3-0 record against the Stars since the start of the 2011 season.
Minnesota Stars FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Thursday, July 12, 2012— 8:30 P.M. EDT
National Sports Center
Webcast: NASL on ustream
2012 Series: Tampa Bay, 2-1-0, 7pts
2012 Series: Tampa Bay, 2-2-0, 10pts
Minnesota Tampa Bay
Head Coach Manny Lagos Ricky Hill
2012 Records 4th: 6-5-4, 23pts 3rd: 7-3-5, 24pts
Last Five Games L W L W L L W W W W
Goals Leader Simone Bracalello (4), Tsuyoshi Yoshitake (6)
Amani Walker (4)
Assists Leader Brian Kallman (3), Keith Savage (4)
Amani Walker (3)
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|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||10||2||2||6||-7||8|