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NPSL North Recap: Week 7

Minneapolis City take the top spot in the Conference after a packed week.

NPSL North Conference logos

Wednesday:

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

TwinStars opened a busy week scoreless in the first half, kept in check by a defensively minded Sioux Falls lineup. Ahead of their match against Minneapolis City, TwinStars made wholesale changes at the half that ultimately paid dividends. Chase Wright flipped the script for the home side with a pair of goals in a six-minute span in the middle of the second half, becoming the first in the North Conference to cross the ten goal threshold in 2018. The Thunder were unable to get a foothold afterward, ultimately dropping to a 2-0 defeat.

Thursday:

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Minneapolis City SC

Giving this 1-0 scoreline for the visitors justice requires more than two paragraphs, so head here for our game report.

Friday:

Dakota Fusion FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

Aris are showing signs of improvement. Yes, really. Their keeper stopped a number of shots during this road trip to Moorhead and they did show some attacking intent. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives finished for the Wisconsinites. Following a go-ahead goal in the familiar form of Jade Johnson in the 24th minute, his fellow West Fargo Packer alum Ben Prochniak fired a bullet just before half time and the contest was essentially over. Jacques Ncengetere joined the Packers on the scoresheet with a shot that pinged off the crossbar and in during the 56th. West Fargo’s current coach George Gauld added to the scoreline in the 61st, and Jaret Mowray marked his debut with a 75th minute tally that made it a 5 star performance for a mid-table side against the division’s basement dwellers.

Saturday:

Med City FC vs Minnesota TwinStars FC

A third game in four days saw TwinStars earn a road point against Med City. Claudio Repetto opened the scoring in the 7th minute for the home team, but the Medics were profligate with their chances in the final third and ceded much of the possession to their visitors. Despite having talisman Karim Darbaki as a coach instead of on the field for the game, TwinStars were able to break through in the second half with a goal by Adama Keita. Following the game, Med City reserve Salvador Plaza was sent off from the bench for abusive language.

Minneapolis City SC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

A scorching night in Osseo saw Minneapolis City consolidate its newfound lead in the NPSL North by throttling Sioux Falls 6-1. City took advantage of Sioux Falls’s high defensive line early, passing over the top to Will Kidd for a 5th minute opener and getting a low through ball to Whitney Browne to double the score ten minutes later. The visiting Thunder got one back in the 25th minute when Rafael Domingos launched a stunner from 35 yards on a free kick, but City added two more before the half was up, once from the penalty spot in the 32nd from Martin Browne, Jr, and again from Whitney Browne in the 38th.

Sioux Falls were certainly brighter in the second half, upping the pace of their passing and getting Domingos and Brice Holliday through the back line for the Crows with more regularity; unfortunately for them, their final ball often sailed over the bar. The depth of Minneapolis City’s bench paid off in the second half, as substitutes Juan Louis and Nick Hutton each caught Thunder substitute goalkeeper Mynor Enriquez straying off the line in the 64th and 88th minute respectively; Louis’s goal came from an impressive angle on the side of the 18-yard box. Hutton’s late goal provided Minneapolis City with its highest scoreline of the year.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs Duluth FC

Only ten days prior to week seven’s match, these two sides faced off in Duluth. The game, largely filled with a deadlock created through poor handling of possession and the occasional great save, ended with a keeper-beating strike from Mauricio Mendoza Noches in stoppage time. The 1-0 defeat was Duluth’s only of the regular season so far. With this in mind, Duluth traveled to Saint Paul seeking redemption and a chance to shed the gloom of the only major negative result they’ve had this season.

The first half of the match heavily mirrored the two clubs’ previous match up, with the few good chances going to waste and the rest of the match floating in deadlock. The BlueGreens’ hopes came to life in the 73rd minute as Brooks Rice smashed the ball into the top of the net off of a long through from Cori Hill, one of many assists from Hill’s sideline antics. On the other end, Jan Hoffelner gave one of his most notable performances for the BlueGreens as of yet, blocking shots from several 1 on 1 situations with VSLT’s forwards. The 1-0 is Hoffelner’s third clean sheet of the season.

NPSL North Standings - Week 8

Team Record Points
Team Record Points
Minneapolis City SC 7-0-4 25
Duluth FC 6-1-4 22
VSLT FC 6-2-2 20
Med City FC 4-3-4 16
Minnesota TwinStars FC 4-4-3 15
Dakota Fusion FC 4-4-3 15
Sioux Falls Thunder FC 1-9-1 4
LC Aris FC 0-9-1 1

Week 8 Schedule*

Wednesday:

Duluth FC vs. LC Aris FC

With two back-to-back wins in the bag, Aris’ visit to Duluth provides the BlueGreens with a great chance to make it three. As is often the case with any side facing them, Duluth should feel confident about getting a result at home against La Crosse but should still be weary of Aris’ tendency to get on the scoresheet. Aris have scored 7 goals in 9 games, scoring in 5 of said 9 matches. While not enough to make up for their defensive issues, it could still cause issues for a Duluth side that has struggled to keep clean sheets this season.

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs. Med City FC

The reverse fixture from three weeks prior saw Med City come out on top 3-1, with both sides playing about as good of lineups available. The same scoreline would certainly help Med City’s chances to make a late run for the playoffs. Sioux Falls would be wise to trot out a lineup matching Saturday’s second half against Minneapolis City if they want to get a positive result.

VSLT FC vs. Dakota Fusion FC

Saturday’s loss against Duluth put Los Trapos four points behind their metro rivals for first place in the conference, which means that in order to keep pace they’ll need to continue their strong home form; on the flip side, the Fusion’s playoff hopes are quickly dimming, and anything less than three points could mean elimination the following weekend. While the visiting Dakotans will know a fair bit about VSLT, they’ll potentially need to contend with the team’s new look with midfield standout Boris Zaraguro, who was not in the lineup for the teams’ May match in Moorhead.

Minneapolis City SC vs. Minnesota TwinStars FC

How much will carry over from the previous Thursday’s festivities—and how much TwinStars’s reputation will carry over with the referees—is the dominant question. Adama Keita, one of the recipients of TwinStars’s late flurry of cards, will be serving a suspension for card accumulation. Minneapolis City will need to rely yet again on the depth from their U23 team, as three of the four defenders who went 90 minutes against Sioux Falls did the same against TwinStars two days earlier. Aaron Olson, who’s been a rock for the Crows defense all season, will be questionable with a thigh injury.

Saturday:

LC Aris FC vs. Minneapolis City SC

In their reverse fixture, Minneapolis City took the opportunity to rotate a significant portion of their side and still came through with a 5-1 victory. Something will have to give for City on the back line if a full-strength team is played during their Wednesday match, and while the Crows will take some solace in doing so against Aris, they’ll still have to be worried about how their four dropped points this season have all been on the road—including two against Aris’s closest competition, Sioux Falls.

Dakota Fusion FC vs. Minnesota TwinStars FC

Both teams will come into the match knowing a win will be necessary to keep up with the top of the table, with Dakota in particular at risk of seeing their chances disappear with dropped points. Much of the result may come down to Dakota keeping their full complement on the field; after leading 1-0 at the half for the reverse fixture, the Fusion capitulated after a 56th minute red card to Lawrenzo Toe and let in three down a man. Coming into this week, TwinStars are yet to lose on the road this season, though their record has only come against Sioux Falls, Aris, and Med City.

Duluth FC vs. Sioux Falls Thunder

Duluth face yet another struggling side following their game against La Crosse, much of what was said about the midweek match applies to this one, though the Thunder will be sure to put up a fight. Duluth was able to break them down away, whether or not they can at home will be a big factor as they close out the season.

Med City FC vs. VSLT FC

Should the Medics beat Sioux Falls in midweek, three points in this match would get them firmly back into playoff contention with a comparably easier stretch run. If they drop points in both games, however, the best they could expect to be is seven points below the line with three to play. VSLT will need to maintain their strong road play, having gotten results away to Duluth and TwinStars, in order to keep pace with what should be expected to be a Minneapolis City win.

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