Free beer! Free admission! Thunder Home Opener
class=img_thumbleft> The Minnesota Thunder open their home campaign atThe Jimmy
on Sunday against defending First Division champs Vancouver Whitecaps. Kickoff is 5:05 p.m. Tailgating will commence by 3 p.m. (Look for the flags.) As proud supporters of theFree Beer Movement
, there will be abundant supplies of beverages (and food) available for the uninitiated. Admission to the game is free. There are no excuses not to attend.
The Thunder have gotten off to a middling start. During their first southern campaign the squad nicked a pair of draws from Carolina and Charleston. But last Friday they were gutted 3-1 by Atlanta. The score was only that close owing to the heroics of defender Kevin Friedland, who cleared at least two balls off the goal line.
"The fact that Minnesota was able to go on the road and get a couple of draws is a good start for them," says Vancouver coach Bob Lilley, who I spoke with on the phone yesterday. "They'll obviously want to win their games at home and sneak points on the road. It's going to be a difficult season for all of us because I think the quality of the teams are getting better each year."
Vancouver's squad is loaded with talent. Dynamic midfielders
Steve Martin Nash and (former Thunder standout) Jay Alberts will cause fits in the center of the pitch. Up top Joey Gjertsen (the league's reigning MVP) and Eduardo Sebrango are possibly the most redoubtable scoring duo in the league. Vancouver secured a win (1-0 over Seattle) and a draw (2-2 against California) in its first two home matches.
"It's early and we're trying to get better week to week," says Lilley. "The win against Seattle was not a sharp performance. Soccer is a strange game sometimes. California, I thought we played much better and with more urgency, but didn't finish our chances."
The Thunder will have the homecooking of The Jimmy on its side. Artificial grass, narrow dimensions, and football lines. "It's a difficult place to go play," says Lilley. "Minnesota is used to those dimensions because they play all their homes games there."
The Thunder's squad is young, talented and upredictable. The Strib ran a nice piece on new 6'4" Japanese target forward Keisuke Ota.
I hope to hit practice tomorrow morning to speak with some players.
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