On a beautiful Friday night in Minneapolis, with The Citizens in the stands, the Crows of Minneapolis City SC kicked off their 2017 season with a friendly against the University of Minnesota Men’s club soccer team at Edor Nelson Field on the campus of Augsburg College. City was a bit short-staffed on the pitch compared to a normal night as quite a few players on the roster are still playing with their colleges and both former pros, Dan O’Brien (injury) and Brian Kallman were out for the night.
The match was played to benefit the Gophers, who recently lost funding from the University of Minnesota. The team received 30% of the gate receipts from the friendly. They will fundraise by assisting other U of M sporting events such as gymnastics and swimming, and through their tryouts.
The match started out slowly but the Gophers completely controlled the first ten minutes of play even managing three shots. The first an easy save in the 2nd minute, then in the 5th minute a shot missing the goal to the right, and another that missed the goal in the 10th minute.
While City’s defense was easily cut through down the middle, they did make it hard near the sides as the Gophers had an extremely tough time controlling the ball near the touch lines, a theme that would continue all night for the U of M. The Gophers gained another scoring opportunity on the left side of the box in the 14th minute, only to be called offside.
After 15 minutes of complete control by the Gophers, City took their attack and started to threaten in the late 15th minute with a scoring chance in the box that would be run past the end line without a shot. City came back in the 18th minute with another opportunity in the left side of the box, but the Gophers using five defenders in their back line, cleared it out without a shot.
In the 19th minute, the Crows gained a corner kick from the left side but the low ball was easily kicked out by the Gophers. After those five minutes passed, the Gophers went back to what they did in the first 15 minutes, dominate possession and even gaining a corner in the 26th minute.
Minneapolis City had been struggling using short passing all night long to this point, could threaten with the long ball but pushed back three opportunities by the 30th minute.
Going into the 33rd minute, City had a nice chance on a corner and the ball was put back to the PK dot followed up by a screaming shot that was blocked by a Gopher defender.
The Crows looked to be threatening again in the 39th minute with a long ball down the left side but the pass was uncontrollable and the U of MN took possession after it went out of play. In the 42nd minute a foul lead to a direct free kick by the Gophers, that shot sailed high over the goal post in the 43rd minute.
After 45 minutes of play and one minute of added time, there was no score.
There were definitely adjustments to be made at halftime, but also some good was showing. The University of Minnesota goalkeeper was looking like an unbeatable wall during the few chances City got to take a shot at him. Martin Browne Jr. (#7 for City) had great skills with the balls and constantly made defenders just look plain silly near him.
On the other hand, the Gophers attack was looking great and just needed to get the ball on net, while the Crows three man back line defenders looked as if they didn’t even want to be there. Adding to this frustration, was the lack of success with short passing while on the attack for Minneapolis.
But the Gophers needed to clean up their game as they had a huge majority of fouls called.
The Gophers wasted no time utilizing their attack after a foul to give them a free kick in the 47th minute the U created a scoring chance on a cross on the left side that was blocked out of play resulting in a corner. On the corner, the ball went into a crowd of players from both sides near the right post where it immediately was put in for a goal.
Minnesota Gophers 1 - Minneapolis City 0 after 47 minutes.
In the 54th minute, the game’s first booking happened as Martin Browne Jr. was shown the Yellow.
Action was limited until there was a flurry of chances in front of the Gopher net in the 68th minute. It wouldn’t stay so pleasant for long as the consistent fouls the Gophers had been committing came back to haunt them when #7 Martin Browne Jr. took a direct free kick, and put a beautiful curve on it and in to the net to even the match at 1-1.
A foul ended up getting #19 for the Crows, Joey Gustafson, booked and a free kick for the Gophers. The free kick was put over the heads of the defense, and hit the underside of the crossbar going in for a goal to make it 2-1 Gophers.
City would come back in the 79th minute with another scoring chance only to have it broken up in the box. For the next seven minutes, the game was played almost entirely in the middle third of the pitch.
In the 86th minute, when City had a scoring chance that was broken up by the U of M, that didn’t stop the Crows as they took the ball back and had another shot that was blocked and they put out of bounds.
2 minutes into stoppage time, a long pass was broken up and put out of bounds by the Gophers resulting in a corner for Minneapolis City. The corner was headed out, but put back into the box where Nick Hutton scored the equalizer in the 90+2 minute with a half-volley that cut through heavy traffic in the penalty area.
The match would end in a 2-2 draw.
Post Game Thoughts
Minneapolis City SC is hoping to be the top club in NPSL North, but they didn’t show that tonight.
Even with players out and missing they should have performed better. The defense definitely needs to be tightened up for the rest of the season and the attack needs to work on the short passing.