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NPSL North Recap: Week 3

One goal games and blowouts were the story of Week 3

May 16, 2018 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Sioux Falls Thunder FC forward, Brice Holiday (9) holds back VSLT FC defender, Matias Diaz (3) during the VSLT FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC match at James Griffin Stadium. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
May 16, 2018 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Sioux Falls Thunder FC forward, Brice Holiday (9) holds back VSLT FC defender, Matias Diaz (3) during the VSLT FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC match at James Griffin Stadium. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Wednesday:

Med City FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

La Crosse couldn't handle Med City finishing with a 5-1 loss to the Mayhem on the road. The first half was met by only one goal when Med City FC took a corner in the 45’ from the far side and Nicholas Itopoulos headed in a shot from just outside the 6 to make it 1-0.

It wouldn't take as long to score in the second half as Med City crossed the ball on the ground from the right side towards the box was played badly by a La Crosse defender as he gave the ball right to the Mayhem’s Claudio Repetto who finished it with an easy chip inside the 6 to make it 2-0 in the 53rd minute. 11 minutes later Francisco Neto ran down the right side of the pitch with no defenders near him and made an easy shot on the run from 8 yards out to make it 3-0. In the 87th minute La Crosse would foul Med City’s Niklas Roessler inside the box to give Roessler a PK which he subsequently buried on the right side of the goal to make it 4-0 Mayhem. 2 minutes later Med City had a free kick from 15 yards out on the right side which was curled into the 6 on the left side where Claudio Repetto finished it for his second goal of the night to make it 5-0. La Crosse would score their lone goal in the 90th minute of the match on a PK after Max Kundert was fouled inside the box.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

A curling free kick by Boris Zaraguro was the difference in VSLT’s 1-0 home opening win over Sioux Falls Thunder. Both sides traded pulled punches throughout the first half, with possession only just cracking the attacking third through much of the opening half hour. Fans hoped that Andrew Jenkins had added to his account in the 18th minute, with the goal disallowed for offside. VSLT began to apply greater pressure as the half continued, with Jenkins and Zumeer Al-Abase pinging shots in tight to Sioux Falls keeper Dennis Thurman. The Thunder was game to attack on the counter, with Brice Holiday and Amadu Myers both seeing clear breakaways go wanting.

The Thunder made wholesale changes up front during the break and looked primed to get the opener for the second half’s opening minutes. Nearly everything was ending up direct to Francisco Durruty, however, with the VSLT keeper getting six saves in the second half alone. As they regained a foothold, VSLT ultimately capitalized on a free kick from 25 yards out, with Boris Zaraguro curling the dead ball inside the near post of Thunder substitute Oliver Harrison in the 70th minute. Sioux Falls pushed for an equalizer through stoppage time, but a series of indifferent set pieces gave VSLT the opportunity to counter, coming close to insurance goals on the break. Late injuries for Los Trapos appeared the result of the clock running into stoppage time, but the home side held on for the win.

Saturday:

La Crosse Aris FC vs Duluth FC

Duluth entered the week three, coming off a midweek loss in the USOC to St. Louis, needing points and goals to keep up with the likes of Minneapolis City and VSLT, having tied their only league match thus far. As was foreshadowed by Aris’ earlier results against Sioux Falls and Med City, Duluth got exactly what they needed in their 1-7 road win. With three players, two being the BlueGreens center back pairing, getting their first goals of the season and Dana Kowachek continuing his eventful entry into the starting XI, Duluth will walk away only unhappy that they slipped up on a counter and gave La Crosse a chance to continue their streak of scoring every game this season.

Aris certainly had moments of interest, both in their goal and a chance shortly after that looked dangerously close to making the game 2-3, but always seemed to have their moments of brilliance cutoff by high pressure from Duluth’s front line or simply a poor pass or long ball. While Duluth shouldn't expect to score this many goals every game, it did show that the changes in lineups and new faces might finally be clicking in a way that can get big results.

Minneapolis City SC vs Dakota Fusion FC

Coming into the match, Minneapolis City publicly expected a tight match against the class of the 2017 conference. Instead, a 5-0 dismantling of Dakota Fusion showed the growing comfort the Crows have built up with their talented attack.

The Fusion didn’t make it easy for themselves early, having to start a man down due to an apparel violation following Jacques Ncengetere’s inability to remove a nose ring. Once they came to full strength, however, Minneapolis City grabbed an opener in the 7th minute. Debuting Fusion goalkeeper Lasse Binder strayed well off his line with the ball in midfield, and Max Stiegwardt took advantage with a long chip. As the visitors attempted to equalize—a 27th minute header from Jacob Weiler was acrobatically saved by City’s James Neher—any hopes of a momentum shift were dashed with Whitney Browne’s heads-up play to take the ball from the foot of Lewis Grant, slotting it home in the 29th minute. The winger picked up another goal eight minutes later, volleying in a rebound following a strong shot by Stiegwardt that Binder could only parry away.

Trading Ben Wexler at the half for Martin Browne, Jr., City kept the pressure high in the opening minutes. Whitney Browne’s hat trick came in the 56th minute following a deep run from midfield to get on the end of Will Kidd’s through ball. The elder Browne also got on the scoresheet three minutes later with a rocketed shot to the top corner from 25 yards out just through the outstretched arms of Lasse Binder to make it five for the Crows. To the Fusion’s credit, they worked hard through the closing thirty minutes to grab a foothold in the game, and came within inches of a goal in stoppage time when Hartrick Tarr saw his shot from the top of the box strike the underside of the bar but bounce upfield.

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs Minnesota TwinStars FC

Both teams came into the week needing points as Sioux Falls was looking for their first win of the season to stay near the top of the table, while TwinStars was looking for their first win in their second match after having the originally scheduled midweek match vs Minneapolis City rescheduled. The first half of the match saw Sioux Falls hold control with Nigel Nielsen scoring the the 26th minute to make it 1-0. This was followed up by Amadu Myers scoring in the 36th minute to make it 2-0 Thunder, which is how it would stay into halftime.

In the second half TwinStars started off hot scoring all three goals within 10 minutes as Christian Deaconson scoring in the 48th minute to make it 1-2. In the 50th minute Taiki Kinugawa scored to even the score at 2 goals a piece before Chase Wright scored just a minute later to make it 3-2 TwinStars, where it would remain the rest of the match.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs Med City FC

Both teams came into Saturday having played, and won on Wednesday night, though in different ways. Med City gave La Crosse a 5-1 thrashing while VSLT won a tight match over Sioux Falls just 1-0. It was the latter of the two that this match resembled as the only goal of the night was scored in the 17th minute by VSLT’s Andrew Jenkins.

After 3 weeks of play Minneapolis City remained on top with a win, VSLT jumped from 6th to 2nd by gaining two wins this week. Dakota Fusion FC dropped to 7th place as they remain without a win and La Crosse stayed in 8th place as they do not have a win or a draw so far this season.

2018 NPSL North Standings

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

Week 2 Schedule*:

Wednesday:

La Crosse Aris FC vs Dakota Fusion FC

It is perhaps fortuitous scheduling which gives Fusion an immediate chance to get back on a roll following the events outlined above, against a club which seems to seems to lack the stamina to keep out other teams. Case in point, a 2-0 half-time deficit against Duluth, becoming 7-1.

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Viejos Son Los Trapos FC

VSLT is coming off 2 consecutive one goal wins and TwinStars is also coming off a one goal win on the road. This match is currently scheduled for Prairie Seeds Academy, which is where last Wednesday’s rescheduled match against MPLS City was scheduled. This match could be an interesting one between two teams looking to prove themselves.

Med City FC vs Duluth FC

Med City’s matchup against Duluth FC could prove a major decider in the momentum of both clubs. Med City have struggled, losing two games against two of the strongest clubs in the conference so far, and will need to rebuild on home performances to rise above the troubles of having only 3 points from 3 games. Duluth need to continue to get points on the road if they want their title defense to end well. With the TwinStars and La Crosse matches proving (mostly) positive for their stretch of away games, a win in Rochester would be the perfect conclusion ahead of their home opener against Minneapolis City.

Saturday:

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Dakota Fusion FC

This is a conundrum of a matchup, with one side regaining momentum and settling on a side now that all the college players are available (Fusion) and one (TwinStars) which seems to be constantly shuffling its deck. Last season's matchups were at least competitive and there's no reason this couldn't be too.

Duluth FC vs Minneapolis City SC

The rivalry between the two clubs would generally be enough to spark fireworks in this one. Add in Minneapolis City’s momentum in scoring eight goals in two weekends against a pair of sides picked for high finishes going up against a Duluth FC team whose physicality and size are perfect foils for how the Crows prefer to play and this should be the pick of the weekend. Coming off of a 5-0 win against Dakota Fusion, Minneapolis’ success has largely come from home while the two’s match will be Duluth's home opener.

City will field a slightly weakened side, with James Neher unavailable for selection and college returnees Shae Bottum and Juan Louis likely too short of time with the first team. Duluth, meanwhile, will face the Crows having played a midweek road game, leaving both sides obstacles to overcome. With Duluth starting to find their way following the USOC hangover, the matchup will provide a chance for both sides to spoil the other’s party.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

Both clubs will be coming off a Wednesday night match and will both need to be conditioned well, especially since this is the 4th match in 10 days for both clubs. If La Crosse continues to play as they have during their first three matches, expect it to be more of the same one sidedness.

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