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NPSL North Roundup: Week 3

Another week of action saw Med City kick off their season, joining Minneapolis City and Duluth FC in earning three points in week three.

May 17, 2019 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minneapolis City SC defender Aaron Olson (2) beats a LC Aris player to the ball during the Minneapolis City SC vs LC Aris FC match at Edor Nelson Field. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
May 17, 2019 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minneapolis City SC defender Aaron Olson (2) beats a LC Aris player to the ball during the Minneapolis City SC vs LC Aris FC match at Edor Nelson Field. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Week 3:

Minneapolis City SC vs. La Crosse Aris

Raven-black skies overhead and the pall cast by the death of the 7-year old club symbol Tardar Sauce failed to dampen matters for the home side as Minneapolis City ultimately cruised to a comprehensive 5-0 win. An early onslaught of chances for City finally broke through in the 23rd minute for Whitney Browne, whose curling effort from the top of the box beat both his mark and the goalkeeper. The Crows resisted Aris’s attempts to counter through the end of the half as their midfield flipped on significant pressure to win the ball.

The tone for the second half was set quickly, however, as Martin Browne, Jr. slotted a 48th minute free kick off the underside of the top corner and in for City’s second. A penalty won by Tim Wills in the 73rd was converted by Max Stiegwardt before some heads up poaching by substitute Nick Hutton earned a pair of goals in the final two minutes to seal the victory. Save for fluffing a clearance on the fourth, little could be done by Aris goalkeeper Vicente Alamos on any of the goals, and he did acquit himself with two excellent stops en route to five saves on the night.

Dakota Fusion FC vs. Duluth FC

The Fusion, coming off a tight loss away to Minneapolis City, hosted a Duluth side this Saturday that had itself struggled in week two, drawing the TwinStars at home. The first half, which ended 0-0, was dominated by Duluth chances. However, a combination of good saves by Fusion keeper Billhardt, poor finishes, and gusting wind resulted nothing for the BlueGreens. The Fusion, low on possession as it were, managed several close calls on the counter, with both wingers threatening the Duluth backline.

Duluth would break the deadlock in the second half, with James Westfield netting a quick brace via a well-placed low cross from Brooks Rice and a deflection off the goalie from fellow forward Lucas Jacobs’ own strike. Alberto Diaz would add to the scoreline after a cleverly placed pass from Ronaldo Fortune would leave him at the edge of the 18 yard box with space. His shot would take a touch from the keeper’s left hand, but would still rocket into the far corner of the net. In the end it was a strong win for Duluth, who handled their first road league match well despite a tough opponent and horrible weather. Fusion will be glad to move on from two games back to back against last year´s playoff sides.

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs. Med City FC

Med City traveled to Sioux Falls this weekend to secure a 2-0 win for their first match of the 2019 NPSL season. The match came off the back of two good matches for Sioux Falls, who lost but competed against Duluth and dominated La Crosse Aris. Med City scored a goal per half via Francisco Neto (‘32) and Niklas Roessler (‘64). The result removes some of the fog around Med City this season, largely there due to their later start, playing their first game in the third week of action.

While few doubted that Med City would again be a strong side in the NPSL North, their clean sheet away win to Sioux Falls provides proof that they will be a side to watch for in 2019, after being deadly for the last two years despite the lack of playoff soccer.

NPSL North Standings after Week 3 - 2019
Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Week 4 Schedule*:

Dakota Fusion FC vs Maplebrook TwinStars

TwinStars follow up a bye week with two games in Week 4, the first coming on the road to a Fusion side yet to tally points on the year. Fusion does come into this game tested by two of the top teams in the conference, and can hope to take some of the lessons from those games to heart against the traveling Maplebrook side. The distance and the weekday scheduling could also help Fusion here, though if TwinStars is able to field a full-enough strength lineup their experience and scoring ability could make them likely to get a result.

Med City FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

A strong road win against Sioux Falls foreshadows further success for the Rochester-club, who host Aris in the next match. It’s an ideal second game for Med City, who will look to rack up the goals and earn their second clean sheet to set up a strong start to the season and a potential playoff run. Aris showed promise in Minneapolis the previous week, thus Med City should be careful to play their best, but it was also clear that a strong squad performance should be enough to get three points for the Mayhem.

Minneapolis City SC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

The home field advantage for Minneapolis City continues in their third game running back at Augsburg University against a Sioux Falls side chastened at home by Med City last weekend. The Crows left some of their weapons on the bench or out of the team entirely against Aris last week, and could look to play a full-strength side against Sioux Falls. For the Thunder, the key will be to have as strong of a traveling side as possible for a Friday road game, as they are yet to score away from home this season.

Dakota Fusion FC vs Med City FC

Fusion follow their Wednesday match with a weekend tie at home to Med City. For Dakota, this could be all about positive or negative momentum: a point or three against TwinStars could help things start moving in the right direction, while a loss could cause things to spiral. Med City’s focus has to be on getting as many points against the bottom half of the table as they can, as the core they’ve returned this season has both the talent and experience together to challenge the top of the table.

Maplebrook TwinStars vs La Crosse Aris FC

The TwinStars will have another chance to build on their good start in Duluth when they host a La Crosse Aris side that seems improved but not improved enough to challenge for points. Depending on how things go on the road in Moorhead, this could be a chance for the TwinStars to earn 4-6 points that would keep that high on the list of contenders in the NPSL North.

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