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NPSL North Roundup: Week 4

Another week of NPSL North action produced ups and downs in Fargo, while success continued for Med City and Minneapolis City.

May 11, 2019 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Dakota Fusion defender Osman Mberwa (11) dribbles the ball during the Minneapolis City SC vs Dakota Fusion FC match at Edor Nelson Field. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
May 11, 2019 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Dakota Fusion defender Osman Mberwa (11) dribbles the ball during the Minneapolis City SC vs Dakota Fusion FC match at Edor Nelson Field. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Week 4:

Dakota Fusion FC vs Maplebrook TwinStars

TwinStars, fresh from a late draw against Duluth FC, travelled up to Moorhead on another blustery, wet evening. The game began scrappily before Fusion began to take control and secured a well-earned win, albeit through the surprising guise of defensive midfielder Nuukele Gboe’s hat trick with goals in the 35th, 43rd and 77th minutes to secure a first win of the season.

Med City FC vs La Crosse Aris FC

Med City’s home opener went largely as expected when the Mayhem took all three points against La Crosse Aris FC due to a 20 minute burst of goals in Rochester from Wismayer, Neto, and Garcia in the 1st, 3rd, and 20th minutes respectively. Aris would hold out for the rest of the match without conceding, but failed to a comeback. The Wisconsin-side did pull a goal back in the 90th minute thanks to Christian Milner. It would be their first goal of the season and enough to make the scoreline seem far closer than their second match of the week.

Minneapolis City SC vs Sioux Falls Thunder FC

City faced off against the Sioux Falls Thunder last Friday in their third game of the season, which would prove their third win of the season. Sioux Falls had looked threatening all through the opening of 2019, only winning one game against Aris but staying competitive against Med City and Duluth in the early weeks. The Thunder were far from dominated, but simply didn't have the skill to get past a City side that looks set to be favorites for a playoff spot.

First half goals from Tim Wills and Aaron Olson would seal all three points for the Crows before they begin a difficult spell of matches against the TwinStars, Duluth, and Med City. Yet to play away from home, City have started the year impressively, scoring 9 and only conceding once.

Dakota Fusion FC vs Med City FC

On an evening when the rain clouds had cleared, the match itself turned tempestuous. An evenly contested first half finished 1-1 with Fusion taking an early lead through Isaac Kehson as the attacker pounced on a misplayed bounce by a Med City midfielder, and with everyone up for a MCFC corner, he sprinted away and slotted it past the keeper. The equalizer came in the 21st minute as a goal kick was headed back from midfield to the edge of the penalty area and Francisco Neto rifled it past Lukas Billhardt in the Fusion goal. The second half was an ill-tempered affair, with a number of free kicks being awarded to Med City and a sideline warning issued to Fusion head coach Jon Melendez. In an otherwise relatively even match in possession terms, the Mayhem took full advantage, with captain Ignacio Milla coming off the bench to score twice within 5 minutes around the hour mark. Fusion’s loss was sealed with a red card in injury time at the end of the game.

Maplebrook TwinStars vs La Crosse Aris FC

The TwinStars earned their first win of the season when they hosted Aris in an explosive 7-0 thrashing. Jorge de Alencar, Kapaw Htoo, Sheady Htoo, Sikiru Kareem and David Kromah all found the back of the net, with Kapaw Htoo earning a hat trick with goals in the 2nd, 62nd, and 73rd minutes. It was a big win for a side that had failed to connect the dots against the Fusion the week before in a surprise 3-0 loss. With four points under their belt in three matches, the TwinStars aren't quite ready to give up their campaign to push into the top echelons of the table.

NPSL North Standings after Week 4 of the 2019 season
Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Week 5 Schedule*:

Wednesday:

Duluth FC vs Med City

Returning after a week off which saw most of the conference even out with their count of three games played, Duluth will host Med City in their third home game of 2019. Despite a strong performance in their last match away to the Dakota Fusion, Duluth will need to tread lightly as they come up against one of the two clubs in the conference with a perfect 3-0-0 record. Med City did fail to keep a clean sheet against the Fusion and Aris, perhaps reflecting that there is room for Duluth to come up big on the attack. Duluth’s own lineup has changed frequently from game to game, something which could help or hinder both sides, as it leaves Med City somewhat unsure of who they’ll face.

Maplebrook TwinStars vs Minneapolis City

Given the events of last season and their relative proximity, this match could be seen as a grudge match although the form of the Crows so far seems to suggest it won’t be a close final score. That said, TwinStars will be fresh from the palette cleanser that is a semi-annual thrashing of Aris and there should be none of the travel issues which otherwise affect this level of soccer. The TwinStars proved capable to grinding a point out against the Crows last year, and more recently managed so against Duluth. Will they be the first to take points off of the already dominant City?

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs Dakota Fusion

Fresh from a hammering by Bugeaters, Thunder play host to a Fusion side recovering from a rough performance of their own, with both sides fighting to develop some upward momentum. The match presents a chance for both sides to change the rhythm of their seasons, with the Fusion able to grab a big six points over the course of the week if they beat Aris later that weekend. With it very up in the air as to whether North or South Dakota will have the better season this year, the first rivalry match between the two of 2019 ought to give onlookers a clearer idea.

Saturday:

Minneapolis City SC vs Duluth FC

Easily the match of the round, the defending conference champions meet the defending regional champions, with neither side wanting to cede ground. Minneapolis have had the better start of the season, while Duluth will hope to win both this match and that against Med City to propel themselves up the table. As is often the case when Duluth and Minneapolis play, this one may end up telling us a lot about the playoff race.

Maplebrook TwinStars vs Med City

The Mayhem travel in to Maple Grove and both sides will be coming off tough away matches at playoff contenders. How they perform could end up being a reflection of the ease or difficulty of those midweek matches.

Sunday:

La Crosse Aris vs Dakota Fusion

Aris will be facing a Fusion side that has looked both good and struggling depending on the minute of play. Depending on the result in Sioux Falls, Dakota will be coming into this match up feeling either the need to redeem a series of disappointing losses or to build on a possible streak of points. The Fusion have more than enough ability to get the win here, but recent stumbles may lead the more optimistic to see this as Aris’ best chance yet to grab their first point(s) of the year.

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