For the first time since the late summer of 2019 the National Premier Soccer League’s North Conference kicked off. This time with just two matches and four of the seven clubs taking the pitch. Expansion side Joy Athletic faced Dakota Fusion at Oriole Stadium in St. Louis Park. Out in South Dakota the Sioux Falls Thunder returned from hiatus (they weren’t scheduled to play in 2020) to face Minneapolis City SC at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls.
Joy Athletic Club vs Dakota Fusion FC
The expansion side Joy Athletic opened their inaugural season with a home clash against Dakota Fusion FC. Joy would come storming out of the gate as former Minneapolis City SC star Whitney Browne scored the first goal in club history just three minutes into the match.
Browne would snag his second goal at the 30th minute to also earn the first brace in the history of Joy Athletic. Four minutes later Emmanuel Iwe would score for the third time on the evening for Joy. Philip Caputo would score Joy’s only goal of the second half to give them a 4-0 lead after 56 minutes.
Aaron Pike would keep Dakota Fusion from being shut out with a 69th minute goal for the visitors. And in what was a relatively clean game with only one yellow card each side, Joy would come out on top in their debut by a score of 4-1.
Sioux Falls Thunder vs Minneapolis City SC
The Crows and the Thunder made their return with the Thunder hosting their annual game at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls. The return to play for Sioux Falls was with different ownership and front office staff, while for City was just due to the pandemic.
However that return would be made a little harder for the Thunder when Brennan Haggerty was sent off in the 42nd minute for Serious Foul Play, brining Sioux Falls down to 10 men.
City would use this to their advantage with Mohamed Youssef scoring the first goal of 2021 for the Crows in the 53rd minute. William Kidd would strike the second goal for City in the 78th minute brining the Crows to a 2-0 lead with 12 minutes plus stoppage to play.
Klenton Stockman-Willis would finish the scoring with a 90th minute goal to bring Minneapolis a 3-0 win over the 10 man Thunder to open the 2021 season.
Week 2 Schedule:
Minneapolis City SC vs Dakota Fusion FC: Edor Nelson Field, Minneapolis, MN - 7 PM
Out of the three matches this weekend only one match will be played on Friday night, this one as the 1-0 Crows host the 0-1 Dakota Fusion. Dakota Fusion will finish their two game swing to the Twin Cities while City will come home for their 2021 Home Opener.
The Fusion will have a lot of work after a 4-1 loss to Joy Athletic last Saturday night. City on the other hand will be looking to improve off a sluggish start where they didn’t score for almost the first hour against Sioux Falls.
Med City FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder: Rochester Regional Stadium, Rochester, MN - 6:45
Saturday night opens with a bit off an odd start time as Sioux Falls heads down I-90 to face Med City FC at Rochester Regional Stadium. The Thunder are coming off a 3-0 loss to Minneapolis City SC however the scoreline doesn’t tell all about that match. Sioux Falls held City down for nearly an hour and had just 10 men on the pitch when they allowed all of their goals.
Med City will return to competitive action for the first time since 2019, though the Mayhem did take a 2-1 win in a friendly over Granite City FC of the UPSL this past weekend. Not only will the Mayhem look to use that momentum but their also coming off a second place finish in 2019 and a Midwest Region Playoff appearance.
With two sides on the up and up this is by far is the Game of the Week for week number two.
Joy Athletic vs La Crosse Aris FC: Oriole Stadium, St. Louis Park, MN - 7 PM
Lastly but not necessarily least is Joy Athletic vs La Crosse Aris FC. Joy will be using all their momentum coming off a 4-1 drubbing of Dakota Fusion this weekend. Aris on the other hand, well the perennial wooden spoon contenders are who they are. With a lack of info out of Aris we can expect this to be yet another drubbing.
However while Aris really isn’t going to be a North Conference title contender they could always play spoiler to some of the bigger clubs with a few wins or draws. So as much as this could be another drubbing of the Wisconsin side I wouldn’t completely count them out.