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NPSL North Recap: Week 5

The halfway point is nearing, and the race for the Midwest Region playoffs is starting to take shape.

June 2, 2018 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - VSLT FC midfielder Kapow Htoo (17) makes a pass during the VSLT FC vs Minneapolis City SC match at James Griffin Stadium. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
June 2, 2018 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - VSLT FC midfielder Kapow Htoo (17) makes a pass during the VSLT FC vs Minneapolis City SC match at James Griffin Stadium. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Wednesday:

Dakota Fusion FC vs Duluth FC

Duluth traveled to Moorhead trying to keep pace with the Crows and VSLT at the top of the division but Massimo Baron scored an early breakaway to put Fusion ahead. When the home team doubled their lead in injury time at the end of the 1st half, with a rare goal from defender Ben Eastwell, it looked like Fusion were on their way to a first home win of the season. However, Duluth closed the gap through Liam Moore on 50 mins and then a well-practiced long throw from Cori Hill - virtually running in from the hockey barn next door - was flicked home by Ryan Tyrer on 53 mins for the tying goal with Steve Harris rooted to the spot. Chaos reigned in the Duluth penalty box at the end of the game but nothing came of it other than a yellow card for Tom Corcoran. The 2-2 result was ultimately unsatisfactory for either side.

Med City FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

Sioux Falls came out to Rochester for the other Wednesday night match. The Thunder were looking for a win to help them move up the table, while Med City needed 3 points to try and jump to the top half of the standings. Med City started controlling the pace early on with most of the chances early on but weren't able to score until the 37th minute when #20 Niklas Roessler scored from the top of the penalty area on a crawling shot to the left of the keeper who makes no attempt to save it. Two minutes later the Mayhem’s #6 Ignacio Milla was issued a yellow card but it didn't stop them as #12 Francisco Neto on a bouncing shot into the left corner in the 43rd minute.

The Thunder weren't going to give up right away as two minutes into the second half Brice Holiday put in what would be Sioux Falls only goal of the night. However Med City brought it back to a two goal lead in the 60th minute when #30 Claudio Repetto put in the Mayhem’s third goal of the night. Over the next 30 minutes both teams had chances to put in another goal, including a few by Sioux Falls in the final minutes, but nothing came about with the match ending with a decisive 3-1 victory for Med City.

Saturday:

La Crosse Aris FC vs Minnesota TwinStars FC

Goals, goals, and more goals was the story of this game and those goals started early on as just four minutes in Bruno Marone put Aris up 1-0. That lead wouldn't last as Chase Wright scored in the 7th minute, scoring again just 5 minutes later to make it 2-1 TwinStars. Taiki Kinugawa was in only interruption in Wright’s four goals, when drove in the third goal in the 20th minute. Chase Wright managed two more tallies in the 29th and 31st minutes to make it 5-1. Aris fired back in the 41st minute with a goal by John Curran which ended the first 45’ with 7 goals and a scoreline of 5-2 TwinStars.

After a goal filled first half it toned down quite a bit in the second half with only two goals as Aris Max Kundert scored in the 77th minute but TwinStars put the lead back to 3 goals with an 85th minute goal by Tyler Oliver to finish off TwinStars 6-3 win over Aris.

Dakota Fusion FC vs Med City FC

On an unseasonably cool and blustery evening, Med City and Fusion ground out a 0-0 draw. It was the fourth draw (if you count the PK loss to Duluth) for the home team this season and the third draw out of three played at home. Unlike the helter-skelter against Duluth, neither side on Saturday night had a genuine threat, both teams were defensively sound and neither deserved to lose.

If this had been a Cup game, Med City may have prevailed, as they had the stronger forward line but the plethora of crosses into the box lacked a target man to finish them off. Fusion were more coherant than recently but not threatening. West Fargo High’s Ben Prochniak came on in the 32nd minute, and then off again in the 53rd.

Fusion started and finished the match strong but large portions in between belonged to the visitors and there was a loud shout for a Med City penalty when a shot ricocheted off the arm of Jacob Weiler but the referee gave a corner instead.

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs Duluth FC

Both sides came into Saturday’s match unhappy with their last result. Sioux Falls faced the wrath of a Med City side who rarely showed any wrath at all and Duluth were left with yet another draw as their comeback against the Dakota Fusion fell short. In the 1-2 back and forth that would follow, Duluth would go one up at the 67th minute, face an equalizer in the 69th, and then seal their three points with a header in the 85th.

The match’s first half was a series of missed chances and poor turnovers for both sides, with neither really showing the desire to win. Duluth made four substitutions in the last 10 minutes of the first half (the other three coming in the second) and went into the second hoping to adjust their way to a win. The win would come at the hands of Liam Moore and Ryan Tyrer, who now stands as the club’s league goal scorer, though Eric Beltran’s strike for Sioux Falls kept things interesting. Tyrer’s goal marked the second time this week in which he scored a header off of a long throw from Cori Hill, as the same strategy worked against the Fusion.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs Minneapolis City SC

In a match that linked up the conference’s most organized defense and its most prolific offense, visiting Minneapolis City made a conclusive case for being the class of the NPSL North, beating VSLT 5-1 in the Green Line Derby. After a pair of early penalty shouts for both sides, City broke through in the 16th minute courtesy of Martin Browne, Jr. finding his way to a ball bouncing through the box. Nick Hutton doubled the scoreline after a long run from the wing eight minutes later, then was bundled over in the box for a penalty kick converted by Browne, Jr. in the 26th. While VSLT FC maintained pressure in the first half—specifically from the active winger Mark Boquin—the Crows kept up the pressure and earned another PK in the 40th minute when Will Kidd was felled in the box. Max Stiegwardt’s shot went through to leave a 4-0 scoreline at the half.

Los Trapos clearly wanted to push back after the half and earned a lifeline via Andrew Jenkins, whose shot ricocheted off of a City defender before beating Matt Elder. City were able to hold the pace as the half progressed through a number of strong substitutes, choosing to clog lanes and take safe counters. Second-half sub Josh DeLaRosa broke through on one of those late runs from fellow late sub Juan Louis to restore the margin in the 82nd minute, and despite some brief expressions of frustration from the VSLT defense, the game ended with a score of 5-1 to the visitors.

2018 NPSL North Standings: Week 5

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

Week 6 Schedule*:

Wednesday:

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs Med City FC

3 points are on the line and both clubs want and need this win. TwinStars have started the season very very well and currently sit only a single point out of a playoff spot and a win over Med City would help their cause. Med City on the other hand sits at 2-2-2 needing a win to push themselves up the table as we come to the midpoint of the 2018 schedule.

Dakota Fusion FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

Both teams enter play comfortably out of the playoff hunt, but this matchup contains potential for a battle of the Dakotas and another return to Fargo for Amadu Myers, the founder of SFTFC, whose first games in amateur soccer were played on this same turf for FC Fargo.

Duluth FC vs Viejos Son Los Trapos FC

Following a surprising collapse against Minneapolis City, VSLT will have quite the target on their back when they come up north to play the BlueGreens. With Duluth yet to win at home in league play and seeking chances to jump into the top two, the midweek match is as a good a chance as any to change the tone of their season at the half way mark and begin a run of successes instead of acceptable draws. VSLT’s clean sheets were shattered when they conceded five to Minneapolis, but Duluth has struggled to keep their empty, earning only one clean sheet this season.

On a (hopefully) lighter note, the match could also bring about a reunion between Duluth FC and their former player Andrew Jenkins, now a key part of VSLT’s squad. Jenkins was a key player for the BlueGreens last year and most would hope the reunion is a good one regardless of the score.

Minneapolis City SC vs La Crosse Aris FC

On the plus side, Aris notched their highest goal total of the year against TwinStars this past weekend. The drawback? Minneapolis City matched theirs last weekend, on the road, against a team that had let in two goals in five prior games, and without a recent NPSL Player of the Week in the starting lineup. For a midweek road game, this could get ugly quickly for Aris.

Saturday:

La Crosse Aris FC vs Viejos Son Los Trapos FC

La Crosse still hasn't won a game since 2015 and don’t expect that to change. But do expect Aris to give VSLT a fight who will be coming off a tough game in Duluth a few days prior and a beating by Minneapolis City the previous week.

Duluth FC vs Dakota Fusion FC

This could be another draw, but could realistically be anything other than the penalty shoot out botched by Fusion at the start of the season at UMD. After all, Duluth FC and Dakota Fusion have scored 6 goals each in two drawn matches this season. Duluth will be looking for a chance to finally start grabbing home wins and will look to implement their better performance against Sioux Falls as a practice in how they can grab all three from a Fusion side that continue to struggle at home and away.

Med City FC vs Minneapolis City SC

The Medics’ trip up to Minneapolis City gave the Crows one of their toughest and most physical tests of the young season in week two, and while Minneapolis survived for a 3-2 win, they did lose Isaac Friendt in the match. MPLS have recovered very well and are riding a lot of momentum, while Med City have been unable to break through into a purple patch yet. For Minneapolis, the key will be to maintain possession without resorting to high passes against a team that has a big size advantage, while Med City will hope to use the home field advantage to push the visitors toward more of a Sioux Falls-ian result.

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