[NASL] The NSC Minnesota Stars, whose future was in doubt a year ago because they did not meet the federation requirements for a Division 2 club, moved closer to the NASL championship with a 3-1 win over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers thanks to three superb goals Saturday in the first leg of the final.
Neil Hlavaty set the tone when he opened the scoring by curling a free kick inside the far post in the 4th minute.
The Strikers equalized when Justin Davis chested his back pass past goalie Joe Warren inside the near post in the 52nd minute, but Luke Mulholland put Minnesota back ahead a minute later with a blast from 20 yards.
Argentine Lucas Rodriguez made it 3-1 in the 77th minute when he beat two Ft. Lauderdale players and split two more as he fired home the insurance goal.
Oct. 22 in Blaine, Minn.
Minnesota 3 Ft. Lauderdale 1. Goals; Hlavaty 4, Mulholland 53, Rodriguez 77; own goal 52.
Minnesota -- Warren, Davis, Cristiano, Altman, Kallman, Rodriguez, Gotsmanov (Takada 82), Hlavaty, Cosgriff, Mulholland (Del Do 88), Cvilikas (Bracalello 88).
Ft. Lauderdale -- Glaeser, Gordon, Lancaster, Stahl, Laing, Coudet (Palacio 62), Arguez, Mayen (Pecka 82), Restrepo, Shriver, Thompson (Nunez 68).
Minnesota-Fort Lauderdale Highlights: