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NPSL North Roundup: Week 2

The first full week of action is in the books and here is what happened!

NPSL North Conference logos
NPSL North Conference teams

This weekend saw the first full week of action in NPSL North with all eight clubs playing a total of four games.

Minnesota TwinStars vs Duluth FC

A wild and controversial finish in the 94th minute earned Duluth FC a 3-3 draw away to Minnesota TwinStars at Minnetonka High School Saturday afternoon. Chase Wright opened the scoring for TwinStars in the 15th minute, controlling Karim Darbaki’s pass from deep in the midfield and scoring from close range with the Duluth back line slow to pick up the break. Six minutes later, Justin Oliver made roughly the same play with the same result, doubling the scoreline. Duluth FC controlled much of the first half, but were unable to place final passes and shoot with accuracy.

From the 37th minute to the 57th minute, Duluth made a series of key substitutions, including switching returning keeper Tom Greensall with Jan Hoffelner for his debut and bringing in creative reinforcements like Garga, Ivan Adika, and Arad Ari. By the time the tone of the game began to switch, the squad on the pitch hardly resembled that of the first half.

The finishing eventually improved for Duluth FC following halftime. Kyle Farrar notched a goal in the 63rd minute after a free kick pinged around the goalmouth. Their continued pressure got them the equalizer in the 69th via substitute Ivan Adika’s cut inside from the wing. That draw lasted only four minutes, however, after Duluth conceded a penalty following a poor challenge right inside the box. Karim Darbaki sent Jan Hoffelner the wrong direction, setting the score at 3-2.

Here’s where it gets NPSL-tastic. Following a spirited back and forth in the final ten minutes, Duluth FC pressed hard in stoppage time and drew TwinStars goalkeeper Ibrahim Toure to sweep out a cross near the top of the box in the 94th minute. Toure ultimately handled the ball past the 18, making his teammates rushing the referee to protest a potential red card. Rather than issuing any card, the referee ultimately let Duluth take a quick free kick in the melee, with Dana Kowachek going clear through for the last-second equalizer. Rather than calling play back to sort out discipline, the goal stood, and the subsequent restart was the final kick of the game.

Dakota Fusion FC vs Viejos Son Los Trapos FC

When a club begins its day in St Paul, players greeting fans, you might expect fatigue to be evident when they play a 7pm kick off all the way up in Moorhead. Not so for VSLT, who broke out to an early lead courtesy of Andrew Jenkins in the 5th minute. Whilst not quite the turf burner that the US Open Cup match was, both teams pressed and countered and it made for an entertaining, end-to-end game.

5 mins into the 2nd half, Zuheer al-Abase scored VSLT’s second goal of the game and left his mark on a game against his former side. al-Abase relocated to Minneapolis in the closed season and agreed that playing soccer closer to his new home made more sense. Fusion hit back with debutant Massimo Baron scoring barely a minute later and the comeback was sealed by a scruffy, deflected header from the prolific Jade Johnson which somehow trickled into the goal almost in slow motion in the 70th minute.

Minneapolis City SC vs Med City FC

A brace for Branden McGarrity and a penalty winner from Martin Browne, Jr. gave all three points for the Crows in their Osseo debut against Med City. The Mayhem started the match with greater energy and controlled play for the first ten minutes, with Midhat Mujic crossing in a ball for Claudio Repetto’s opener in the 6th minute. Minneapolis flipped on soon after, with McGarrity scoring his equalizing goal in the 25th after a number of half chances.

A scary moment for the home fans came moments after halftime, when Isaac Friendt went down attempting to muscle off a defender. “Goose,” as the Citizens call him, was unable to leave the field under his own power and was on crutches after the game with a knee injury. Branden McGarrity continued his strong debut with a second goal in the 52nd in front of a well-screened goalkeeper. Med City was able to equalize just five minutes later off a corner kick headed in by Nicholas Itopoulos. The absorb and counter play for Minneapolis City paid off in the 69th minute when Med City conceded a penalty for a handball in the box. Veteran midfielder and captain Martin Browne, Jr. kept the PK on the ground, beating Nate Levy for what would prove to be the winner.

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

For a fleeting moment of social media confusion, the world thought that LC Aris finally won a game:

Spoiler alert: the wording on these tweets was as bad as LC Aris’s scoreline. Sioux Falls cruised to a 6-1 shellacking of the perennial basement dwellers. Brice Holiday notched a pair of goals in the opening half, with the second rebounded off of the post. Holiday was subbed off at halftime for Manny Rosas Quiroz, who added a pair of goals in the final five minutes of the second half. Evan Espelien gave Aris some hope going into the half with a goal in the 45th minute, but as NBC affiliate KDLT noted, no one quite knew who he was based off of his jersey.

After the first full week of play and two weeks overall, here are the NPSL North standings.

2018 NPSL North Standings

Team Record Points
Team Record Points
Minneapolis City SC 1-0-1 4
Sioux Falls Thunder FC 1-0-1 4
Dakota Fusion FC 0-0-1 1
Duluth FC 0-0-1 1
Minnesota TwinStars FC 0-0-1 1
Viejos Son Los Trapos FC 0-0-1 1
La Crosse Aris FC 0-1-0 0
Med City FC 0-1-0 0
NPSL North Standings after Week 2 Ashle Norling

Minneapolis City and Sioux Falls Thunder currently sit tied for first with 4 points each with the rest of the Conference, except La Crosse and Med City, sitting with a single point after drawing last weekend.

Week 3 sees the first set of Wednesday night matches on the slate as six of the eight teams take the field again followed by another full slate on Saturday.

Week 3 Schedule*
Wednesday:

Med City FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

Med City showed plenty of ability against Minneapolis City, and appeared to have a good size advantage to boot. It’s not clear if either will really be needed to beat a traveling Aris side.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

The additions VSLT made to their roster over the winter paid dividends against Dakota Fusion, while Sioux Falls showed their ability to play freely against Aris. This could shape up to be an intriguing match.

Two additional matches had been scheduled for Wednesday however both have been postponed. Those two matches were Dakota Fusion FC vs Duluth FC to be played at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead, MN and Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Minneapolis City SC. The Dakota/Duluth match was postponed due to Duluth playing in the US Open Cup this Wednesday against St. Louis FC but has since been rescheduled for Wednesday May 30th. The TwinStars/MPLS City match was postponed due to “technical difficulties” per Minnesota TwinStars. However MPLS City had tweeted that TwinStars were not able to secure a venue for the match as their normal home venue, Minnetonka High School, which is hosting the schools Track and Field team.

Saturday:

La Crosse Aris FC vs Duluth FC

La Crosse Aris’ first match of the season shows signs of repeat of seasons past, but the constant underdogs will hope that a Duluth squad worked hard by back-to-back league and USOC play will provide a chance for points. Duluth meanwhile will approach the match as a prime chance to pick up their first win of the season against an Aris squad that continues to show its old issues. Needless to say, the 3 points up for grabs could catalyze either clubs’ seasons.

Minneapolis City SC vs Dakota Fusion FC

Boasting solid talent, the Fusion go on the road to Osseo and face a Murder with momentum and a clash of styles. Minneapolis City will get a little bit of extra rest following the postponement of their Wednesday game against TwinStars.

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs Minnesota TwinStars FC

Following the Thunder’s offensive success in a win against LC Aris, the biggest question is whether or not TwinStars are legally allowed to bring more than nine people into the state of South Dakota.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs Med City FC

With a possible chance to rest key players midweek, Med City will be a stern test for the Old Guys that could outweigh the home field advantage.

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