MN Stars last-minute goal captured in amazing photo

MN Stars last-minute goal captured in amazing photo
Photo: Jeremy Olson,

On Saturday night, the Minnesota Stars beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-0 in the first leg of the NASL Championship series, meaning they'll enter the final game in Florida next week with a two-goal advantage.

The game went scoreless for 67 minutes, when Stars forward Amani Walker broke the tie, followed by a second goal by Martin Nunez with 30 seconds left on the clock.

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In the end, it was one of the most intense games of non-stop, heartfelt play in recent memory, says Wes Burdine, member of grass-roots soccer advocacy group MLS4MN. And the action was intensified by the fact that, though the Stars are poised to win a second consecutive championship, the team could be on the verge of folding.

"It was just the action of the game, but it's also a combining sense that no one knows what's going to happen in the future of Minnesota soccer," says Burdine. "If we're gonna go out, we're gonna go out in a blaze of glory. And I think that feeling was going through the fans and the players."

The feeling described by Burdine was captured in an amazing shot by Aramis Ikatu of Aramis photography, taken right after the second goal sneaked past the Rowdies goalie. Note the layer of mist created from flares and smoke bombs brought in by fans (Ikatu tells us he's trying to find a sponsor to send him to this weekend's second leg in Tampa Bay, and if you're interested, contact him at [email protected] or 763-568-0969):

MN Stars last-minute goal captured in amazing photo
Courtesy Aramis Photography.

After Nunez scored the goal, players rushed the stands in celebration, says Burdine. "The fans fell over the boards and onto the players, so there was about 100 people just stacked on top of each other," he says. "The referee had to come over and sort everyone out."

Diehard fans like Burdine hope Saturday wasn't the Stars last home-field hurrah. As it stands, the future of the Stars is unknown. They are currently owned by the NASL, and without a buyer, the league could decide to cut ties at its Board of Governors meeting this weekend.

"They're meeting on Saturday in Tampa before the final," says Burdine. "So the idea is that they will have decided the fate of the team before they play, and obviously they probably won't tell anyone..So I think the plan is, if we win the trophy and then get rid of the team, we just hold the trophy ransom."

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