Christian Ramirez’s shooting has been wayward, but give the Minnesota United striker credit – he’s finding other ways to find the back of the net. He chested in a goal, from a beautiful bounding Kevin Venegas free kick, and Miguel Ibarra added a long-distance strike in the second half as United came from behind to win 2-1 over Fort Lauderdale.
It was United’s first win since August 17, a welcome shot of momentum for a team that appeared to be stuck in the early-fall doldrums. With a visit to San Antonio on tap for next Saturday, and the Scorpions and Minnesota vying for first place in the overall NASL standings, any tailwind will be welcomed
31 minutes in, Fort Lauderdale took the lead – one of the few times they’ve managed to do so on the road this year. Striker Pecka volleyed home a Stephane Guillaume cross, a good-looking goal that was greeted with nothing short of jubilation from the Fort Lauderdale sideline.
Seven minutes later, though, Ramirez brought United back level. Venegas’s free kick from the right was perfectly placed – too far for the goalkeeper to come out to get it, but with enough pace and bend to flummox the Fort Lauderdale defense. It took one wicked hop, straight into the chest of the onrushing Ramirez, and the striker had only to let the ball deflect off his chest to get the goal. It gave Ramirez 15 goals for the season and three in United’s last four games – though the first two were from the penalty spot.
Ibarra took less than ten minutes in the second half to find the winner, a long-range blast that flew into the bottom right-hand corner, perhaps Ibarra’s best goal of the season – and his first since mid-July, to boot. It was enough to reduce the Strikers to a long-term policy of shin-kicking and roughhousing, one that proved unable to produce any particularly notable chances.
Ramirez, though, had a gift-wrapped through ball fall to him, three yards from an open net; sadly, he ballooned his chance over the crossbar. It was the latest in a stretch of near misses for the striker. Yet, give him all the credit in the world; he’s found other ways to score, including – tonight – with his chest.
In other NASL results, New York led Atlanta 2-0 after ten minutes, blew the lead, then scored in the 84th minute to win 3-2; Carolina whacked San Antonio 3-1; Indy and Edmonton drew 1-1; and Tampa Bay lost 2-0, at home, to last-place Ottawa, and responded with a monumental “sore loser” moment on Twitter.
— Tampa Bay Rowdies (@RowdiesSoccer) September 12, 2014
Might hurt less given the circumstances, Tampa Bay.