Tampa Bay Rowdies at Minnesota Stars FC
2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Finals - 1st Leg
Saturday, October 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET
NSC Stadium, Blaine, MN
The match can be seen live online here.
Regular Season Records (W-T-L)
Tampa Bay: 12-9-7, 45 points, 2nd place
Minnesota: 8-11-9, 35 points, 6th place
Tampa Bay travels to Minnesota for the first leg of the NASL Soccer Bowl Finals, after defeating Carolina on a 5-4 aggregate score in the NASL Semifinals. The Rowdies will then host the Stars in the second leg, with the winner on aggregate crowned champions of the NASL Soccer Bowl Finals. This is the second straight year the Rowdies have made it into the NASL Playoffs, losing to Minnesota in the 2011 NASL Quarterfinals.
2012 NASL Coach of the Year & NASL Fair Play Award
The Rowdies earned their second consecutive NASL Fair Play Award on September 27, given annually to the team that compiles the best discipline record during the regular season. On October 4, Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill earned the inaugural 2012 North American Soccer League Coach of the Year Award, given annually to the best coach in NASL as voted by media and soccer writers nationwide.
Since the Rowdies returned in 2010, Tampa Bay leads the regular season series, 5-3-4 (W-T-L). Tampa Bay leads the series in 2012 with two wins and one tie and one loss. Minnesota defeated Tampa Bay in their only playoff meeting back in the 2011 NASL Quartefinals.
The Rowdies lost 2-1 to Minnesota at NSC Stadium on July 12. Tampa Bay rallied to cut Minnesota's lead in half with a second half goal by forward Matt Clare, but the Stars held on for their first regular season victory over the Rowdies since the 2010 season.
The second-placed Rowdies finished the regular season in with 45 points, posting a 12-9-7 record. The five away victories are tied for most by any team in the league, and the Rowdies have only lost one game at home during the regular season and playoffs.
Forward Daniel Antoniuk and Mike Ambersley are tied for most goals on the Rowdies with eight, while Ambersley has eight assists, tied for most in the league.
Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella finished second in the league with a goals against average of 1.07, while leading the league with 118 saves. Attinella’s 11 shutouts helped the Rowdies give up only 30 goals this season, tied for second lowest in the NASL. TheRowdies enter the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Finals with an eight-game unbeaten streak and a 2-3-0 record in their last five games.
Minnesota began their road to the NASL Soccer Bowl with a 2-1 win at Puerto Rico on Sept. 30 in the quarterfinal round. In the 2012 NASL Semifinals, Minnesota played to a 0-0 draw at home against San Antonio in the first leg, while defeating the Scorpions in the second leg 2-1 advancing to the finals on an aggregate score of 2-1. This is their second consecutive trip to the NASL Finals, as they are defending champions.
With 35 points, the Stars finished in sixth place in the regular season posting an 8-11-9 record. Minnesota gave up only 33 goals this season, fourth fewest in the league. Forward Amani Walker led the team in both goals and assists, scoring seven goals and picking up five assists in the regular season.
Defender Kyle Altman captained the Stars to their second consecutive NASL Soccer Bowl, as they defeated Ft. Lauderdale in the 2011 edition. Altman was elected as part of the NASL Best XI, as he logged 1700 minutes for the team this season.
Goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel finished fifth in the league with a goals against average of 1.20 and is sixth in the league with 77 saves. The Stars are 3-4-1 in their last eight games played.
Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill
“We look forward to going out on Saturday and playing our game,” said Hill. “We know they are the defending champs, but we know our rhythm and style of play and we won’t let them interrupt that. The guys know how important it is to come back to Tampa Bay with a great result, and we look forward to Saturday’s game in Minnesota”
The Rowdies will host Minnesota in the second leg of the NASL Soccer Bowl on Saturday, October 27 at Al Lang Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available starting at $12. For more information and for discounted tickets, call our front office at 813.287.1539 or log on to RowdiesSoccer.com.