Vlora Just One Win Away from Second UPSL title in Three Seasons

Matches on June 8th

FC Minneapolis 3-2 Turbo

Just days before their trip to Rochester, FC Minneapolis would need to host Turbo in a postponed match that provided both a chance to earn some much awaited points. While the City Lions were favorites, it was Turbo that led 2-0 at half time after a surprise burst of goals.

FC Minneapolis would catch up, however, with Yessine Bessaies, Freybin Pagoada, and Layton Blair all bagging goals as the hosts eventually won 3-2. The result provided FC Minneapolis with a bit of extra momentum as they look to climb up into the top spots before the season comes to a close.

Matches on June 10th

Rochester FC 0-3 FC Minneapolis

The City Lions traveled to Rochester on Friday in search of yet another win on the road after beating Granite City last weekend. FC Minneapolis have looked out of the race in recent weeks, but will have arrived in Rochester knowing they can keep things interesting with a win. For Rochester, late season results at home could prove a wonderful antidote for a season where they’ve failed to compete for honors.

The City Lions would make it two wins in a matter of days, this time on the road in Rochester. Yessine Bessaies stepped up with two more goals in the 43rd and 85th minutes, while Higor Franca fit into the middle in the 49th minute with a goal of his own. While it’s a disappointing result at home for hosts Rochester FC, the result continues an impressive late-season run of form from FC Minneapolis.

Matches on June 11th

Ebusua 3-1 Brooklyn Knights

The bottom two sides of the UPSL Midwest-West met this weekend in a must win for both as they look to end the year on a hard-to-find good note. Ebusua have struggled at both ends of the pitch, scoring just six goals in eight games, while conceding twenty. The Knights have conceded twenty-one goals, but have scored eight.

It would prove a truly historic night for Ebusua, who secured their first ever UPSL win in eventful fashion, becoming the last club in the conference to secure three points this season. While it took time, and the club will still sit behind the Knights due to their one previous point from a draw being deducted and a poor goal differential, Ebusua finally have some results to point to as they look to come back stronger in 2023.

Goals on the night came from Popo in the 23rd minute, Miracle in the 79th, and Sydney in the 87th. If nothing else, it’s encouraging to know that the UPSL Midwest-West will be a competitive conference this year, one where every single side earns at least a couple results.

Austin Villa 0-0 Minneapolis City

While their early run of form has slowed down, 2022 has been an eventful season for Austin Villa, managing to maintain a spot on the periphery of the title race even as they picked up losses and draws. This weekend saw them meet the reigning champions in a decisive match for both. Minneapolis City needed the points on the night as much as the hosts, as the Crows continued to fight their way back up the table and into the race with Vlora.

The match would prove an entertaining ninety minutes accompanied by a quiet scoreline. Austin Villa’s electric attack wouldn’t find the back of the net on the night, but neither would Minneapolis City’s, though City would have a goal disallowed. 

It’s a draw that doesn’t quite help either side, as it’s not enough to kickstart Austin Villa’s campaign for a higher spot on the table. It also leaves City without the points they needed to lap FC Minneapolis after the City Lions’ two wins this week. Minneapolis City still have a game in hand, so there’s plenty left to be decided, but they’re now technically third.

Matches on June 12th

Granite City 1-3 Dakota Young Stars

Granite City stay home following their 2-4 loss to FC Minneapolis, facing another chance to grab points and climb into the mid-table. While the Young Stars have found themselves in a bit of a back seat in the race for the conference title, the club can still very much put themselves in a good position to lap either City or Vlora were one of the clubs to struggle with their final matches.

While their shot at the conference title looks a bridge too far, the Young Stars did do enough this weekend to keep their extremely impressive season going as they sorted out Granite City in St. Cloud through a 3-1 win.

While Minneapolis City certainly helped make things interested in this season’s second half, it’s worth remembering we must credit the Young Stars greatly with how competitive this season has proven to be. The South Dakotans provided an unexpected threat to Vlora and are quite unlucky to end the year without any formal honors.

Turbo 0-4 Vlora

Vlora, at the top of the UPSL Midwest-West, traveled to Turbo this weekend in search of yet another result to hold on to the top regular season spot. The side have held off the likes of the Dakota Young Stars and Minneapolis City thus far, but with City holding a game in hand, Vlora needed a result on the night.

It would yet another great night for Vlora, who continue to simply be unstoppable in UPSL play. Goals would come from Robert Cooper, Uhunoma Frederick, Leo Anthony, and Pablo Campos (yes, that Pablo Campos) as the 2019 conference champions secured their seventh win of the season.

At this point, with just a few matches left, it’s fair to say Vlora have been the standout side of this 2022 season. They’ve yet to lose a game, they’ve conceded just four goals, and boy do they know how to win. Now just one result away from winning their second conference title in the UPSL, this could be an interesting club to follow in the upcoming playoffs.

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