Coming off a near month-long NASL break, Minnesota United looks to get back on the winning track and regain their NASL form against the Spring Season Champion, Atlanta Silverbacks – the team that clinched the Spring Season crown on United’s home field back in the Spring Season finale on July 4th.
Minnesota United certainly has not sat idle during the near month-long break, having played in several exhibition games, defeating fellow NASL club FC Edmonton 2-0 in the Schwan’s USA Cup Pro Classic; as well as toppling the PDL’s Thunder Bay Chill 4-0 in an international friendly. The team also took new shape during the break. United brought in several new faces to compete to fill out the roster as trialists, as well as making some bold signings. United brought in Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Calum Mallace on season-long loan from the MLS’s Montreal Impact. A player exchange was also part of the mid-season moves as United traded midfielder Bryan Arguez for Carolina RailHawks’ midfielder Floyd Franks.
Another trade sent high-profile signee Etienne Barbara to Tampa Bay Rowdies for forward Mike Ambersley August 1. Barbara scored twice on 10 shots in 551 minutes for Minnesota and was named NASL Week 5 Player of the Week after scoring twice in a 2-2 draw against Carolina May 4. The 2011 NASL MVP signed a three year contract with Minnesota during the off season after playing for Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer in 2012.
Ambersley comes to Minnesota with two goals in 286 minutes of play. He started three times and appeared in six games for the Silverbacks. He led the team with 27 starts
“We’re excited, our goal is to improve and get better and Mike has been a great player in this league,” said United Head Coach Manny Lagos. “He’s a quality forward and we think we have someone that will give us a lot of experience and energy moving forward.”
Minnesota United will also be without the services of former captain, Kyle Altman after he announced his retirement to pursue his goal of attending medical school.
The Silverbacks were also active during the break, playing in a pair of tune-up matches. Reserves and trialists led them to a 2-1 win over the NPSL’s Georgia Revolution, while they played their starters in a 3-2 victory in an international friendly against Guatemalan club Xelaju MC at Silverbacks Park.
Offseason matches and players moves aside, this is the time for Minnesota United to regain their stride on the field during NASL play. Minnesota United FC coach Manny Lagos watched his side lose three games to wrap up the first half of the 2013 season, after having been in contention for Fall Season crown. “We’re looking forward to getting back on the field and competing again to wash the bad taste out our mouth that we didn’t finish where we’d like. We’re excited to compete and try to win a Soccer Bowl.”
The coach and club are looking forward to getting back at the Silverbacks this Saturday, “Atlanta did a good job getting first place and taking the first season and we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing the defending season one champs and competing and playing well.”
The match kicks off at 7 p.m. CDT at National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, Minn. You can purchase tickets by calling 763.331.8777 or by heading to www.MNUnitedFC.com. Can’t make it to the game? We have you covered with our LIVE streaming coverage at www.MNUnitedFC.com