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Minnesota ready to build on spring title
July 11th, 2014 2:57PM

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[NASL: Fall Week 1] After a five-week break for the World Cup, the NASL kicks off its fall season Saturday. Minnesota United FC, winner of the spring trophy, begins at the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.

Minnesota's spring title assures it of a berth in the NASL semifinals, so getting ready for the postseason will be its focus.

"I think as a group we are looking forward to getting back to league play,” said Minnesota coach Manny Lagos. “We had a great spring season. We obviously felt good about where we ended up, but we know we still have the fall season left to get better and improve. We are ready to get back on the field and build to be ready for the postseason and compete. It's going to be a challenge and we are looking forward to it.”

Minnesota returns Brazilians Tiago Calvano and Cristiano Dias to anchor the backline as well as Christian Ramirez, who leads the NASL in both goals  (5) and assists (4). United gets outside back Kevin Venegas back after he was forced to sit out much of the spring season due to a jaw injury.

Fort Lauderdale made some changes during the break. Slovakian Kamil Contofalsky, 36, will replace Oka Nikolov in goal, and the Strikers added 28-year-old Haitian midfielder James Marcelin and 23-year-old Brazilian attacker Jenison.

2015 EXPANSION. Armada FC, the Jacksonville expansion team, will play its home games at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, beginning with its inaugural 2015 season. The move is considered temporary as the club develops plans for a new soccer-specific stadium on the First Coast.

NASL commissioner Bill Peterson said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday that he is confident Oklahoma City will be playing in 2015. The launch of the expansion team in Northern Virginia will be delayed another year until 2016.

Peterson said the NASL's goal is to reach 18-20 teams by 2018. Expansion targets include San Francisco and Los Angeles.

NASL SCHEDULE, Week 1:
Saturday, July 12
7 pm ET
New York vs. San Antonio
7:30 pm ET
Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta
Carolina vs. Indy Eleven
Ft. Lauderdale vs. Minn. United
Sunday, July 13
6 pm ET
FC Edmonton vs. Ottawa

NASL SCHEDULE, Week 2:
Thursday, July 17
8 pm ET
Minn. United vs. Carolina
Saturday, July 19
7:30 pm ET
Atlanta vs. FC Edmonton
Indy Eleven vs. Tampa Bay
8:30 pm ET
San Antonio vs. Ft. Lauderdale
Sunday, July 20
3 pm ET
Ottawa vs. New York

NASL SCHEDULE, Week 3:
Wednesday, July 23
8:30 pm ET
San Antonio vs. Carolina
Saturday, July 26
7:30 pm ET
Atlanta vs. Minn. United
Carolina vs. Ottawa
Ft. Lauderdale vs. New York
Tampa Bay vs. San Antonio
Sunday, July 27
4 pm ET
FC Edmonton vs. Indy Eleven


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