Wave United leads Thunder 1-0
Series heads to Minnesota for second leg
MILWAUKEE, WI -- The Minnesota Thunder fell to the Milwaukee Wave United 1-0 Friday evening to open the A-League playoffs at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
Minnesota was unable to equalize after surrendering a penalty kick in the 14th minute to forward Nick Walls.
Down one goal in the two-game, total-goals series Minnesota will host Milwaukee Sunday at the National Sports Center in Blaine (kickoff 5:30 p.m.). The Thunder will host Milwaukee at the National Sports Center in Blaine Sunday, Sept. 7. Tickets ($10-20) are still available by calling the Thunder office at 763-785-3668 or online at www.mnthunder.com
The Wave United wasted little time grabbing the momentum as midfielder Nick Walls broke free along the left side of the Thunder defense, forcing goalkeeper Joe Warren into an aggressive challenge inside the penalty area. Milwaukee midfielder Greg Howes capitalized on the ensuing penalty kick to give the Wave United the 1-0 lead in the 14th minute.
The Thunderís best scoring opportunity in the first half came in the 28th minute when forward Johnny Torresí left foot shot from 18 yards out was deflected off the goal post by Milwaukee goalkeeper Jim Larkin.
Throughout the second half Minnesota pressed forward in search of the equalizer. In the 78th minute Torres found daylight through the Wave United defense but his shot from 15 yards out was corralled by Larkin.
Moments after entering the match as a substitution, Thunder forward Melvin Tarley nearly tied the match in the 83rd minute, but a game-saving slide by Milwaukee defender Joe Hammes on the goal line sealed the Thunderís fate and helped protect the Wave Unitedís 1-0 lead.
The loss gives the Wave United the 1-0 edge in the total-goals home-and-home series which shifts to Blaine on Sunday. Returning home in the playoffs down in a two-game series is far from unchartered waters for the Thunder. In 2000, Minnesota lost 3-0 at Vancouver in game one, before returning home to blank Vancouver 3-0 and ultimately earning the series clinching goal in overtime.
The team with the higher combined score will advance to the Western Conference finals, facing the winner of the Seattle Sounders-Vancouver Whitecaps series. If the combined score is tied after Sundayís match, then series overtime of two 15-minute golden goal periods are played. If no team scores in the series overtime, the series will be decided via FIFA penalty kicks.
MIL: Howes (pk) 14
MIN: Shak 56
MIL: Morman 78
Referees: Cien Asoera, Francisco Sanchez, James Walter, Christian Rickman