It’s been a few weeks since our last regular NPSL North coverage piece so we’re here to get you up to speed. Week 8 saw no midweek matches for the first time in a few weeks and saw all the favourites win over the course of Friday and Saturday. Med City defeated Dakota Fusion 4-1 in Rochester, Minneapolis City defeated Aris 3-0 in MPLS, and Duluth FC defeated Joy Athletic 5-1 in St. Louis Park.
After a week without any weeknight matches, Week 9 featured all weeknight matches as the teams prepped for a weeklong break around Independence Day. Sioux Falls Thunder and Joy Athletic went to a 3-3 draw in South Dakota, the originally scheduled match between Med City and La Crosse Aris was postponed for reasons not specified.
Lastly the Crows headed to Duluth to face the BlueGreens and attempt to stay unbeaten and clinch the conference title. Aidan Hill scored early for Duluth to get them up 1-0 but the Crows’ Jack Berry tied up the match in the 20th. Hill was then sent off shortly into the second frame after accumulating two yellow cards, the ensuing man advantage allowed City to break the match open to 6-1 and claim the North title.
After a seven day break the teams resumed play last week for Week 10 with a three game slate on Wednesday. Duluth FC partially redeemed themselves for the 6-1 loss the previous week by defeating Aris at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth by a score of 6-0. Med City outlasted Joy Athletic with a 1-0 score in St. Louis Park. Lastly Dakota Fusion got payback for their loss to Sioux Falls earlier in the season, as they defeated the Thunder 3-1 in Sioux Falls.
Six of the seven sides also played again on Saturday with a big shock happening. After a 10 day break and 10 straight wins Minneapolis City fell at home to Joy Athletic by a score of 3-2. Joy controlled much of the match and led for almost the entire time and at no point did City hold a lead. Duluth FC also outlasted Dakota Fusion in Moorhead, earning a 2-1 victory in what easily could have ended as a draw. While Sioux Falls had to come from behind to force a draw with Aris at home in South Dakota.
In the lone weeknight match in Week 11, Med City stomped La Crosse Aris 7-0. The match was originally scheduled for Week 9 in Arcadia but was rescheduled for this past Tuesday in Rochester.
Currently this is how the standings look heading into the matches this weekend. City has won the conference title as noted and is vying for a top two spot and first round by in the Midwest Region Playoffs. Med City FC and Duluth FC are both tied on points, however per the NPSL tiebreakers Duluth FC has second and holds the playoff spot themselves.
Joy Athletic’s season has finished and they will finish in fourth place in the conference no matter what. Sioux Falls and Dakota Fusion are tied and this weeks results will decide who sits in 5th and 6th place. La Crosse Aris are at the bottom and will take the wooden spoon no matter what they do.
Med City vs Minneapolis City SC
One of the two meaningful matches on the weekend pits North Champion, Minneapolis City against 3rd place Med City FC. The Crows have the fitness advantage having not played this week while Med City will play on their home ground. The Mayhem can only do so much in this match for their playoff hopes as a lot of their hopes lie in Sioux Falls Thunder.
If Med City can manage to beat the Crows and put them down for a second time this season then Sioux Falls can win or draw with Duluth to get the Mayhem to the playoffs. A draw and Sioux Falls must win, but if Med City looses their season is finished regardless of what happens on the North Shore.
Duluth FC vs Sioux Falls Thunder
This is going to be a tough challenge for Duluth, the Thunder defeated them earlier this season in Sioux Falls and have been a worthy challenger in the North this year, albeit a snakebitten one. Duluth’s playoff hopes are on the line and do somewhat depend on Minneapolis City. However if the BlueGreens win then they will enter the Midwest Region Playoffs regardless of the Crows/Mayhem match.
If they draw or lose however they will need Med City to do the same or worse in order to make the playoffs.
La Crosse Aris vs Dakota Fusion
Sadly there isn’t much on the line in this one. Aris will stay with the wooden spoon, Fusion will finish fifth or sixth no matter what. It’s just one final match and one more chance for Aris to get their only win of 2021.