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NPSL North Recap: Week 6

We’re halfway there.

June 6, 2018 - Minnetonka, Minnesota, United States - LC Aris FC midfielder Andrew Browning (23) kicks the ball during the Minneapolis City SC vs LC Aris FC match at Hopkins High School. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
June 6, 2018 - Minnetonka, Minnesota, United States - LC Aris FC midfielder Andrew Browning (23) kicks the ball during the Minneapolis City SC vs LC Aris FC match at Hopkins High School. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Wednesday:

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Med City FC

The Mayhem would hand TwinStars another loss on the season on the strength of a 3-1 victory in the Twin Cities. Claudio Repetto would start the game off with a goal in the 19th minute. TwinStars managed to capitalize before the half with a 33rd minute goal by Anayo Kwazema to even the score.

Med City wouldn’t let that stand for long as Alvaro Adan Urrea scored just before halftime in the 42nd minute. Just after the break Claudio Repetto put away his second goal of the night for the boys from Rochester.

Dakota Fusion FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

The battle for Dakotan pride saw two sides seeking to rebuild and maintain playoff momentum. Fusion were also attempting to break a run of three successive drawn home games.

Even when Sioux Falls took the lead through Manny Rosas Quiroz in the 3rd minute, it was on a counter attack immediately following Miah Wills hitting the post at the other end from a pass by Jade Johnson.

4 minutes later, Hartrick Tarr danced across the box and his shot was blocked. From the resultant corner, Aberdeen, SD’s Wills headed the equalizer home. Fusion took the lead in the tenth minute when Mohammed Bangura lofted a ball into the box, over the Thunder backline and onto Jade Johnson, whose snap shot was parried into the path of George Gauld for a tap-in.

For undisclosed reasons, Habib Beljulji took Steve Harris’s place between the sticks at half time for Beljulji’s first game time in over two years as Harris’s reliability and a concussion in training limited his time.

Fusion’s control of possession was reflected in a breakaway from a long pass down the right flank, with Johnson gave the home team a commanding 3-1 lead in the 44th minute.

Thunder instead regained their footing and pushed forward in the last ten minutes, grabbing their second goal with a finish from Eric Beltran which showed the composure that Fusion coaches were loudly imploring their own players to show. Nonetheless, Thunder’s dominance of the closing stage failed to claim a leveller and Fusion escaped their cycle of draws.

Duluth FC vs Viejos Son Los Trapos FC

As VSLT’s Mauricio Mendoza Noches curved a long shot past the keeper and put his club 0-1 in the 94th minute, he both brought new his club’s title hopes back to life and put Duluth’s in an ever tougher spot. Having come off of a home humiliation to Minneapolis City, which ended 1-5, VSLT’s first place position was in danger from the threats of dropped points and Minneapolis’ game-in-hand. To secure that spot VSLT needed to continue to not just beat the lower table clubs, they needed to earn all three against the clubs floating around the middle, something that always helps decide the difference between first and third.

While the game came with some drama, more so about officiating than the actual players, both sides played well. Duluth will regret two close chances as Santiago Castro had a header stopped on the line and Ryan Tyrer had a near goal hit off the post. Both defenses protected their keepers well and towards the end the game felt destined to be a 0-0 tie whose story would only be a matter of almosts. It was the kind of game that needed one person to have a great moment, Mendoza found his and has now put VSLT in position to continue to battle their Twin Cities rivals for first.

Minneapolis City SC vs La Crosse Aris FC

Playing in another makeshift home at Hopkins High, Minneapolis City SC cruised to a 5-1 win over LC Aris in a game that was prime for even more goals. The home Crows rested a number of regular starters, keeping both Browne brothers and Will Kidd for the second half. A tepid opening twenty minutes was broken open after Tim Wills found his way to a a bouncing ball in the box. A corner from Max Stiegwardt found Max Kent’s head for the second City goal in the 23rd, with Sekou Kromah adding a third after the striker deftly shielded a chested ball out of the reach of a sweeping Aris keeper Alberto Centeno. The home side backed off the gas as the half came to a close, which allowed Joseph Donkor to take advantage of a 1v1 opportunity and bounce a shot through Trey Benhart’s legs and past goalkeeper Matt Elder for the lone Aris goal.

After what sounded from the stands like a hairdryer treatment by City coach Adam Pribyl at the intermission, the home side came through with added energy, assisted by halftime substitute Whitney Browne. Tim Wills broke through again seven minutes into the second half, running clear in for a second goal, then came on the end of a Nick Hutton cross in the 67th to complete a hat trick before being subsequently subbed off. Minneapolis spent the remainder of the half toying with LC Aris, pressing well but unable to break through. Alberto Centeno kept the game from getting uglier than it could have for the away side, with a point blank save against Whitney Browne in the 82nd the choice of several solid stops to limit the bleeding.

Saturday:

La Crosse Aris FC vs Viejos Son Los Trapos FC

Sikiru Kareem opened the scoring for the visiting VSLT FC on the 18th minute. A minute later, the match was suspended due to heavy storms going through the area; a rescheduled date is yet to be announced.

Duluth FC vs Dakota Fusion FC

After losing to VSLT at home, this game went from important to vital for the BlueGreens. They needed to score goals, avoiding conceding, and pick up three points. Despite the obvious nature of those objectives, all three of those things have been a struggle throughout the season. Though the game was a rough one and the Fusion’s keeper, Habib Beljulji, made some insanely key saves to keep his side relevant, Duluth finally found grabbed their first home win.

The first half was as gritty and productless as Duluth’s last first half against VSLT. Aidan Hill and Ryan Tyrer had the best chances, Hill through a clever bicycle kick (stopped by Beljulji) and a diving header that missed by inches. Tyrer’s presence on corners and long throws continues to be dangerous and it should be clear why he’s managed to become the club’s leading goal scorer.

The second half would bring a new sense of intent and with it the all important goal. Joe Watt’s 58th minute goal wasn’t the most dynamic try of the match, but it made the difference as the constantly present veteran put the home side up 1-0, a scoreline that would hold for the remainder of the match.

Med City FC vs Minneapolis City SC

Minneapolis City continued its strong form with a 2-1 away victory over Med City on the back of a goal and assist from Nick Hutton. The visiting Crows applied early pressure on the wings, with Hutton cranking out a top corner bullet in the 20th minute. Med City had an equalizer called back minutes later when it was ruled that an elbow to the face led a Minneapolis defender to be knocked out of play. That error proved costly in the 40th minute, with a cross from Hutton opening up Will Kidd for the decisive second goal.

Minneapolis absorbed much of the second half pressure, resorting to a defensive midfield that included usual fullback Charlie Adams. After a tactical yellow for Mark Heydt, Med City notched a comeback goal in the 54th minute with Francisco Neto, but were unable to break through again for an equalizer.

2018 NPSL North Standings: Week 6

Team Record Points
Team Record Points
Viejos Son Los Trapos FC 6-1-1 19
Minneapolis City SC 5-0-2 17
Minnesota TwinStars FC 3-2-1 10
Duluth FC 3-1-4 13
Med City FC 3-3-2 11
Dakota Fusion FC 2-3-3 9
Sioux Falls Thunder FC 1-5-1 4
La Crosse Aris FC 0-8-0 0

Week 7 Schedule*:

Wednesday:

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

TwinStars will have an exhausting week having to play three matches over four days. The first of these tests will be against Sioux Falls Thunder in Minnetonka. Sioux Falls is looking to use this game to gain a second win and hopefully climb out of the cellar by seasons end as they sit in 7th place with a 1-5-1 record. TwinStars on the other hand while down are not out in the race for the NPSL Midwest Region Playoffs. Sitting 7 points back from Minneapolis City SC, who holds second, a shot at the playoff is still in the realm of possibility for MNTS.

Thursday:

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Minneapolis City SC

[notes on TwinStars having to play without a day in between against an undefeated but injured Minneapolis City SC garbled due to technical difficulties]

Friday:

Dakota Fusion FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

An evening visit by Aris to Moorhead is usually an opportunity to give some of the Fusion squad some match minutes and quite possibly to beat the Wisconsin team emphatically in a style which escaped them on the away game.

Saturday:

Med City FC vs Minnesota TwinStars FC

Med City and TwinStars, pending the result of games on Wednesday and Thursday sit as close as a single point away from each other. Both the Mayhem and TwinStars will need to dig deep in order to try and get 3 points to help them catch Minneapolis City and VSLT who seem to be running away with first and second place.

Minneapolis City SC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

While high flying at the moment, a 48 hour gap between matches for Minneapolis City is the last thing they need given their injury list. Depth from the team’s U23 side will be key in the match. Sioux Falls will come in with a glimmer of confidence; while they’ve lost five in a row, their season opened with a 2-2 home draw against the Crows, one of only four points on the year.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs Duluth FC

In the 2017 season, Duluth were embarrassed at home as VSLT beat them 1-4, only to beat the Saint Paul side at home 2-3. Duluth will be hoping this history repeats itself following their 0-1 home lose, VSLT of course will not. If VSLT can be consistent and win games against the mid table, they can put one hand on the title and feel that there’s little to worry about. If Duluth can take home points from this game before starting a string of home games against the struggling clubs, they can perhaps still feel a run into the top two is tangible. As with all games in this league, quite a bit’s on the line, but it’ll be awhile before we fully realize the weight and effect the result has on the season.

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