Minneapolis City 2-1 Duluth FC
It’s been a tale of two cities for Minneapolis City and Duluth FC this season, with the three time reigning champs struggling to break beyond the mid-table following three losses while the BlueGreens look prime to get their first title since 2017. With the clubs’ history against one another in mind, this midseason clash in the Twin Cities quickly became a focal point for determining how both clubs’ seasons would go.
Several memorable match ups between Minneapolis City and Duluth FC have ended in big results for the away side, from City’s big 5-2 and 6-1 wins in Duluth to the BlueGreens getting a draw key to their conference title win in 2017 and a 2-1 win in 2019 which cut short one of the Crows famous unbeaten streaks.
It would prove an absolutely huge night for the hosting Crows, with starlet Zach Susee grabbing an early lead with the aid of a Mesanvi assist. Susee has had a strong year so far with the Crows, but he started his night with the unique accolade of becoming the first person to score on Duluth FC in competitive play in 2022. The goal came after a burst of Duluth pressure, a theme that would carry through the night, as Minneapolis showed a patient but cleanly executing side to its game.
Duluth would chase a goal into half time, with the likes of Sam Thornton and Blake Perry creating plenty of chances with the help of fullbacks Gantley and Juarez, but it would remain 1-0 at the half time whistle with City encouraged by the crowd at the Breck School. It’s fair to say that without Matacastillo’s confident goalkeeping in the opening hour or so, this would be a very different match.
Duluth would come out of half time as hungry as before, but again missed chances would leave them wanting. In their place, City would find a second goal through a superbly taken 52nd minute free kick from Luca Constestabile on the edge of the box. In a match where both sides seemed dangerous and ready for a goal, only one side was scoring.
The remaining thirty or so minutes of the match would become largely a siege as Duluth attempted to battle their way back into the match. City would have chances on the counter, but no additional goals would come from them. Duluth would get their goal via Paul Bobai, his first goal for the club, but the 93rd minute tap in following a saved shot, was too little too late.
That result almost doubles Minneapolis City’s points tally from four to seven, while wounding Duluth’s perfect record and bringing them quite close, in fact below, Med City. Duluth has a game in hand against the Mayhem.
Sota Soccer caught up with new Minneapolis City head coach Marco Campoverde after the game to learn more about the story behind the night’s big win. Campoverde started by acknowledging that it was a key result for the club after a season that had seen them struggle for consistency.
“I mean it’s huge right, and not just to get a win but to get a win in the way we did against the quality that Duluth FC has is about as big of a momentum shift as you can ask for. Super happy with the work we did in the build up to the game and obviously to get a result that’s huge for the club moving forward.”
Campoverde also noted he appreciated the opportunity to experience the NPSL North’s essential rivalry first hand, having seen it from a distance while coaching the Dakota Fusion.
“It’s phenomenal, right? I’ve had an appreciation as a bystander for this rivalry over the last few seasons and just really thankful to be a part of this organization, but obviously it’s a little bit sweeter a notch up on your biggest rival.”
Finally, Campoverde explored what had been different about tonight’s match, which saw City excel, after starting the year off with losses to Duluth and the Fusion, along with a draw to Sioux Falls. The Minneapolis City head coach says that while the message has remained the same, and is finding its way into the group, facing quality opposition in front of your own fans is always an occasion to step up for.
“I think the message was really simple. We have a way we want to play and we have a mentality that we want to embody. It doesn’t matter who is across from us, we’re going to stay true to that. So, we knew that Duluth had a lot of quality, a very good team on the counter attack, lots of pieces throughout the field that present you with challenges. So for us, it was about sticking to what we had planned throughout the week and what we worked on and just being motivated to go put on a show for our fans.”
Both teams will play this Wednesday, with Minneapolis City hosting the TwinStars, while Duluth host Joy Athletic. It’s fair to say that how both teams perform in those fixtures will go a long way toward showing just how vital this match was.
Dakota Fusion 3-1 Joy Athletic
Following a somewhat shocking win away to Minneapolis City, the Fusion’s return home to host Joy Athletic looked like the perfect chance for the home side to get their second win of the season right away. Joy, though, looked an improved side last week when they beat Sioux Falls on the road and it looked to be an interesting match up. It was telling that, after their 2-1 win over Minneapolis City last week, Fusion Head Coach Samuel Winning told Sota Soccer, “I’m just excited for Joy to come up to Fargo now, that’s what I’m excited for and that’s what we’ll focus on now.”
Turns out Coach Winning was on to something, as the Fusion secured their second straight win of the season in 3-1 fashion against a Joy Athletic side that simply continue to struggle. Numbers wise, it’s the most convincing result the Fusion have had this season, though beating Minneapolis City the week before foreshadowed a good result.
The Fusion have a ways to go if they want to manage to get into the playoffs picture, but the North Dakotan side are showing the potential many saw in them ahead of the 2022 season. No one should particularly want to play the Dakota Fusion right now.
La Crosse Aris 0-5 Minnesota TwinStars
After several issues off the pitch saw Aris first postpone a match and then forfeit another, the Wisconsinites welcome the TwinStars for a much awaited return to normal play. Aris had been on a high point before the drama emerged, having beat Joy 3-0, and would hope to rekindle that form. For the TwinStars, it’s a chance to grab more points against previously-beaten opposition and continue their campaign as one of the better-performing sides in the NPSL North.
As it turned out, Aris’ return to the field would be a tough one as the TwinStars racked up five goals in a clean sheet road win against the Wisconsin club. The TwinStars have been an under the radar power this season, struggling to do much against the usual top three, but burning through much of the rest of the pack as they put together a strong campaign to at least be one of the best of the rest.
This result is perhaps most indicative of Joy Athletic, who lost 3-0 to this side, at home, not so long ago. Perhaps the hype built up around Joy Athletic, in part by this writer, deserves to be placed on the returning TwinStars instead.
Note: The NPSL site currently has this match registered as a 0-0 draw. Sota Soccer is not aware of the reason behind this, but both clubs have acknowledged that it ended in a 5-0 win for the TwinStars.
Sioux Falls Thunder 1-2 Med City
Sioux Falls stays home after a disappointing 2-3 loss to Joy Athletic, hoping to rediscover the early season form that got them a 1-1 draw against their newest visitors, Rocheter’s Med City. For the Thunder, it’s yet another chance to get that first win of the season. For Med City, it is an absolute must win as they continue to march against Duluth.
Med City would step up and get a huge result on the night, beating Sioux Falls 2-1 to secure yet another tight win, this time at a location known for its tough road matchups. It’s a marked improvement on Med City’s 1-1 home draw against the Thunder early in the season, an improvement that sees Med City take a clear lead over Duluth FC on the table, though the BlueGreens do have a game in hand that would draw them closer if won.
Perhaps what this week, with Duluth losing and Med City winning once again, best sets up is the two matches the clubs still have to play against one another. Med City will host Duluth on June 25th, while Duluth will host Med City on July 9th, the second to last round of the season. With both sides proving they can drop a few points, those two matches may prove blockbusters.
Then again, both Med City and Duluth will have to make sure they don’t drop points along the way, or they may hand the title to one another before ever playing each other.