Minneapolis City SC will have to hope some time in Canada will lead to their first USL League Two win of the season, whether they savor some sweet maple syrup or some milk in a bag.
In the first leg of their 20-hour bus trip and Canadian two-step, the Crows lost their first ever international match to Thunder Bay at Chapples Park on Friday, 3-1.
Andrea Di Vincenzi’s late second half goal in the 80th minute secured the win for Thunder Bay and erased a hard fought battle for the Crows. Osita Obiekwei then added another goal in stoppage time to put the result entirely on ice.
Crows head coach Matt VanBenschoten said giving up transition opportunities were damaging again, as positioning is something his team continues to work on.
“It’s more learning moments for us,” he said. “Especially in a 1-1 game where we come up and try to steal a point, you got to be smart about how and when we attack.”
Aidan O’Driscoll had scored the equalizer for the Crows in the 49th minute on a free kick from the far side, finding space between the near post and Thunder Bay keeper Alejandro Chavarria.
“It was a big moment for us,” said VanBenschoten. “It was just what we really needed in the moment.”
Following the goal, Minneapolis SC stayed on the attack in the second half, yet there was chance for Obiekwei where no foul called on a deep chance in the box in the 53rd minute. The potential non call appeared to raise the intensity of the match, as there were several fouls and yellow cards.
“It was physical and guys were competing, no ill will,” said VanBenschoten. “After an accumulation of fouls, guys are going to get yellow cards.”
Chances came often for the Chill amidst the intensity as a long run by Obiekwei helped set up Sebastian Canales in open space in front of goal in the 75th minute. His shot was stopped by a diving Martin Sanchez, one of several nice saves for the Crows keeper.
“Regardless of the outcome of most of our games he’s usually a shining performer for us,” said VanBenschoten of Sanchez.
The first half was highlighted by the goal for Thunder Bay on a through ball into Canales in open space. Sanchez challenged, but Diego Martinez capitalized with a deep strike on an open net in the 25th minute.
“It was a good decision by Martin to come out,” said VanBenschoten. “He was the last guy back and makes a great tackle… You always to come out and be aggressive and challenge the attacker.”
Prior to the first goal, the first quarter of the match was played quite evenly with Aidan O’Driscoll getting a nice shot off a corner in the 5th minute that was saved by Chavarria.
Shortly after, Canales played the ball into Martinez on a counter on a shot that was tipped high of the bar by Martin Sanchez in the 7th minute.
Even with the 1-0 lead in the first half, Thunder Bay kept up the pressure as Martinez played a cross to Canales, saved by Martin Sanchez in the 30th minute and a potentially beautiful bicycle kick by Canales went wide in the 33rd minute for some of the best chances for the Chill in the first half.
Later in the 40th minute, Sydney Tume made a nice run for the Crows to set up Jacek Nickowski from the right side, as he chipped a shot that went over Chavarria’s hands but also over the crossbar as well. It certainly gave the Crows some glimmers prior to the break.
“I can’t fault our effort,” said VanBenschoten. “There’s mistakes we’re still making in terms of transition moments, but the effort was there tonight. We had chances and just couldn’t finish them when we needed it.”
The Crows remain winless (0-5-2), while the Chill improve to a winning record (2-1-2).
The Crows continue their Canada road trip, staying overnight in Winnipeg and will next play at FC Manitoba in USL2 action at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 19. VanBenschoten said they will spend a total of 20 hours on the bus.
“It’s a great atmosphere up here,” said VanBenschoten. “It’s a fun environment to play in for sure.”
In NPSL action, Minneapolis City SC hosts Med City at Edor Nelson Field at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 18.