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NPSL North Recap: Week 4

Wins for VSLT FC against TwinStars and Aris pushed them to the top of the conference in Week 4.

La Crosse Aris and Dakota Fusion players go after the ball near the corner.
Ashle Norling

Wednesday:

La Crosse Aris FC vs Dakota Fusion FC

A 3-0 win for Fusion on the road in Wisconsin could indicate that Aris are finally getting out of their own way, with their defeat being merely routine rather than embarrassing. The visitors showed little tactical desire to runover their hosts, instead putting 5 or 6 men in midfield and killing off any spectacle in the game. It was only after the 81nd minute sending off of Ryan Maxwell did Fusion finish off the game with goals from Joel McIlroy and Miah Wills.

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Viejos Son Los Trapos FC

In a match pitting two of the three Twin Cities clubs, TwinStars hosted VSLT at Prairie Seeds Academy in Brooklyn Park as their normal home of Minnetonka High School was being used by the school. This was a change from the previous week when TwinStars cancelled the game against Minneapolis City but yet was practicing at Prairie Seeds Academy (you can read more about that here). VSLT would get issued 4 yellow card compared to none on the TwinStars, but the cautions couldn’t stop VSLT as they took their 3rd straight one goal when #14 Mauricio Mendoza scored in the 52nd minute.

Med City FC vs Duluth FC

A win for either club this Wednesday would have been a defining moment in their season, but handed an intense 0-0 both sides instead were forced to wait for their weekend games to show the way. Both clubs had considerable possession and chances, but strong goalkeeping and a series of fouls (fifteen by Duluth and nine by Med City) kept both goals empty. A road point will leave Duluth the happier of the two parties, but neither will be satisfied as they try to keep up with Minneapolis City and VSLT in the race for the conference title.

Saturday:

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Dakota Fusion FC

On a roasting hot day in Minnetonka, Fusion took an early lead. Nuukele Gboe scored on his debut in the 15th minute but a familiar lack of discipline cost the visitors. Unlike Gboe, Lawrenzo Toe’s debut only lasted 16 minutes. Toe joined as a substitute in the 40th minute, with the team in the lead, and departed after two yellow cards in 12 minutes, for delaying the restart and violent conduct, either side of half-time with his team losing. Having taken the lead, TwinStars took advantage of their extra man, completing the win with a Chase Wright hat trick and a fourth goal in the 88th minute from Taiki Kinugawa.

Duluth FC vs Minneapolis City SC

While the 1-1 scoreline seems mild mannered, the most recent meet up between the two sides was as physical and tense as one should probably expect considering their past games and history of social media clashing. Each side received three yellow cards, the last for each side going to Aaron Olson and Sean Morgan after a fight broke out following Olson’s controversial tackle on Duluth left back Julian Villegas.

This 87th minute drama aside, much of the match was taken up by bouts of possession for each club, though following the 22nd and 37th goals for Minneapolis and Duluth respectively few attacks led to dangerous situations in the final third. While Duluth subbed players in an effort to solidify their back line and midfield, Minneapolis made key attacking subs as they brought on the in-form Whitney Browne. Browne instantly made the Crows look and feel more deadly against a tired Duluth backline, helping create some of the better chances of the second half.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

VSLT came into this game with three straight one goal wins while Aris is coming off their best performance of the season, holding Dakota Fusion scoreless for 45’ before losing 3-0. La Crosse couldn’t hold down VSLT like they did to the Fusion as just 19’ in Boris Zaraguro scored to make it 1-0. Mark Boquin would score VSLT’s second goal 35 minutes in. After having a 2-0 halftime lead VSLT would score three more in the second half with Sikiru Kareem scoring in both the 70th minute and 87th minute while Ruben Ruiz capped off a 5-0 VSLT win with a 90th minute goal.

After 4 weeks of action VSLT holds the top with 13 points and Minneapolis City in 2nd with 8 points. TwinStars with 7 points and Duluth with 6 points follow up the next two spots.

2018 NPSL North Standings: Week 4

Team Record Points
Team Record Points
Viejos Son Los Trapos FC 4-0-1 13
Minneapolis City SC 2-0-2 8
Minnesota TwinStars FC 2-1-1 7
Duluth FC 1-0-3 6
Sioux Falls Thunder FC 1-2-1 4
Med City FC 1-2-1 4
Dakota Fusion FC 1-2-1 4
La Crosse Aris FC 0-5-0 0

Week 5 Schedule*:

Wednesday:

Dakota Fusion FC vs Duluth FC (makeup game from 5/16/18, please note)

Both Dakota and Duluth need points as they approach their midweek encounter, Dakota to avoid slipping too far down toward the bottom after a series of big losses and Duluth to keep themselves relevant in the title race as VSLT, Minneapolis City, and the TwinStars rack up points on and off the road. This will be the first time the two sides have met since their eventful USOC match which went to penalties. The two teams could not look more different than they did on May 9th. With Duluth’s home opener falling short and Dakota’s goal difference plummeting, each club has quite a bit to play for.

Med City FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

With both clubs struggling to climb out of the lower half of the table, Wednesday’s match between Med City and Sioux Falls could prove a turning point for either’s season. The hosts, Med City, have a mild home record so far with one win (albeit against La Crosse) and one draw, but Sioux Falls have yet to earn any points on the road. Both sides will need some luck on the results of other games this week, but if they get that and a win they could find new energy for their season.

Saturday:

La Crosse Aris FC vs Minnesota TwinStars FC

The TwinStars have found some great form recently and find themselves in third place, their only low point a home loss to a conquering VSLT side. With six points in their last three games, the side have a real chance to be one of the more surprising sides of the season despite recent controversies. For Aris it’s the same story we often find ourselves telling. Against Dakota we saw glimpses of something, a chance of growth in a side that actually held out for almost the entire game at 0-0 before a late collapse. Most of their matches have been less flattering but the chance is always there for an upset.

Dakota Fusion FC vs Med City FC

The Mayhem travel to Moorhead with as a roughly equal competitor to Fusion in the congested mid-section of the North and this game will probably be a dog-fight. As noted above, Fusion need to concentrate on closing the gaps at the back. Both sides need the points regardless of whatever midweek results await them and will look to take advantage of each other’s poor form.

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs Duluth FC

Having not played in week four, Sioux Falls will be facing a Duluth side that are hungry for points, on the road or otherwise. Bearing in mind the potential results of the Wednesday match, Duluth will be more than interested in getting six points in one week from two clubs who have struggled to get results. For Sioux Falls a win would lift the weight of a poor start to the season and a chance to get back into the upper half of the table.

Sioux Falls have had a relatively good home record, winning, drawing, and losing one game each, while Duluth have gotten 5 of their 6 points on the road. Needless to say the cards tell of testing match for all involved. The BlueGreens will be facing two long road trips to the two Dakota’s in the same week, which perhaps above all else, will be the test of strength and will that can define their still-developing squad.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs Minneapolis City SC

In what’s been called alternately the Clasico and the Green Line Derby (note: light rail expansion plans don’t currently include Osseo), VSLT’s strong run of controlling matches in 1-0 wins over top clubs will clash with Minneapolis City’s powerful offense. Both sides have strengthened over the last season, with VSLT in particular getting significant midfield help from Boris Zaraguro. City will need to rely on midfield boosts from last week’s debutante Juan Louis and the eventual add of Shae Bottum to cope with the long-term injury to Isaac Friendt and last week’s knock for Ben Wexler.

Injuries aside, there are ample reasons why VSLT and Minneapolis City hold the top spots in the conference. Los Trapos feature strong organization defensively, and their ability to break with Andrew Jenkins and Zuheer al-Abase will test a back line for the Crows that, while technically sound, can be beaten by strength. The same issues are at play for City going forward—the Browne brothers, Will Kidd, and Branden McGarrity will beat teams with skill, but the size of Duluth FC’s defense (and only a late cameo for Whitney Browne) showed how to neutralize them.

*For exact kickoff times, locations, and tickets, visit the websites of the home club, which can be found by clicking the bolded team