The NSC Minnesota Stars won their first North American Soccer League title against the Strikers on a 3-1 aggregate following a 0-0 draw on Saturday at Lockhart Stadium. Regardless of the rainstorm prior to the match, the Stars weren't going to be denied their NASL Championship.
After qualifying for the playoffs with a 9-9-10 record, the Stars had to face three of the top four teams in the NASL in their journey of becoming NASL Champions. After defeating the third-seeded FC Tampa Bay 1-0, the Stars thwarted the regular NASL regular season champion Carolina RailHawks from advancing to the NASL Championship Series in a memorable semifinal series.
In the NASL Championship Series, the Stars faced the hottest-scoring team in the postseason. Prior to facing Minnesota, the Strikers had outscored FC Edmonton and the Puerto Rico Islanders by a combined score of 10-2 in three matches.
In a series of defense vs. offense, the Stars demonstrated some offensive firepower of their own. In the first leg of the championship series, Minnesota won 3-1 over the Strikers. With the second leg in Florida, the Stars were able to prevent Florida from producing any goals on Saturday night.
Following the victory, it'll be interesting to see how the monumental win impacts the club in the upcoming months. Currently the Stars are owned by the NASL with the hopes of finding an owner. Time will tell how the Stars' NASL Championship impacts the soccer culture.
“We don’t want to shy away from what we are, and that’s a team that’s owned by the league and looking for the right owner,” Minnesota Head Coach Manny Lagos said in a press release. “I hope the pride we bring back to the state open eyes and gives Minnesotans some pride in this state as a soccer market. We’re looking forward to coming home and sharing this moment with the fans who weren’t able to travel.”
The Stars return to Minnesota at 10:30 a.m. on Monday. Fans are welcome to meet them in Terminal 2 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport and are also encouraged to attend a championship celebration at Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis starting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night.
Cesar Diaz is a mild-mannered reporter who writes for several online publications. If there's a soccer topic you believe that needs to be written about, please feel free to contact him. Easily accessible, you may contact him CoveringSoccer@gmail.com and at @Covering Soccer.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.