Superior City’s Matti Sysimaki. Image courtesy of Cole Gewerth.
Just like last week, week three of the UPSL Midwest-West’s 2023 season gave us some big results, some shocking results, and plenty to think about. Superior City, by the end of the wild affair, have yet to drop a single point. Meanwhile, multiple expected title challengers dropped points in unexpected fashion.
Minneapolis City Futures 2-0 FC Minneapolis
The Futures came into this game favorites against 0-0-3 FC Minneapolis, but it proved to be a more complicated path forward than what appeared on paper. The match was locked at 0-0 at halftime, with the City Lions managing to frustrate the hosts (playing away from their actual home at Burnsville High School).
Carter Hermanson stepped up in a big way for Minneapolis City Futures in the second half with two goals with assists from Jonathan Bayer and Griffin Price to take all three points home for the Crows. The result leaves the Crows with seven points from three games, a strong start by all accounts, especially with the likes of Vlora, the Blackhawks, and St. Croix all dropping points recently.
The long road to victory continues for FC Minneapolis, who seem to be missing something from last year’s impressive campaign. Though it’s worth noting they’ve had to play some of best of the best right away this year. The club have struggled to make much of their matches at either end of the pitch, but teams have a way of turning things around quickly at this level.
Superior City 1-0 Worthington Community
Superior City continued to make a big statement in their debut UPSL season last weekend with a fourth win in four games. The win was one of their tightest yet, just 1-0 over visitors Worthington Community, but it means the newcomers are well and surely top of the division for the week.
The victory showed us another side of Superior City, as the team earned its first league win of the season without a goal from Mally Lumsden. While Lumsden’s form has been exciting for the team, Superior City cannot rely on the Jamaican frontman to always score, though it should be noted he assisted the winner from Ryan Tomsche in this game.
It’s Tomsche’s first goal for the club, a great bit of reaction to a loose ball in the box and the kind of gritty goals Superior’s relied on so far and will continue to need to keep this run going.
Worthington Community have had a rough run recently, but it’s worth noting that’s mostly been on the road. Los Toros will be looking to make the real difference at home, bringing opposition to their home in southwest Minnesota and putting the rest of the division to the same long-distance tests they’ve had to deal with themselves.
St. Paul Blackhawks 1-0 Maplebrook
The Blackhawks brought home a thin but important 1-0 win over Maplebrook last wekened. Bethel University’s Ryan Swanda scored the winner from a corner with a strong header, assisted by Oscar Brennan.
The St. Paul Blackhawks controlled the first half but saw their efforts fall short aside from the opening Swanda header. Chances wasted left the game open as weather played a role in the second half, with rain and wind bogging down both teams going late into the match.
Blackhawks goalkeeper Tony Favorite came up big late in the game with a save to stop Maplebrook from capitalizing on a rare chance. It secures a win the Blackhawks needed badly after last round’s shock loss. The newcomers are back on track with six points from nine possible.
Twin City 0-0 Vlora FC
Twin City earned their first point of the season at home in a tight contest with Vlora, flipping expectations against the 2019 division champs, who also played and lost to Honduras FC Majors in the second round of the Amateur Cup a day before this game. The rotation that followed that game certainly informs this result, but considering these days several clubs field teams in multiple leagues at this level, that’s becoming just another part of the challenge.
This 0-0 draw, the first in the enter Midwest-West this season, doesn’t answer the question of where Twin City will find goals, as they’ve still yet to score, but a point is a point and it shows the club has something to offer after a tough opening loss to Superior City.
Last year, Ebusua, which has rebranded as Twin City, really struggled to get much done in their debut UPSl season, finishing with a 1-1-8 record and the deduction of one point. This year, the community club looks reinvigorated and ready to give teams a proper game.
It’s a bit much to say this result ends anything for Vlora. A point is a point and the club remain undefeated. However, these standings often end up being determined by the slightest of margins and this division isn’t what it used to be. With so many other clubs starting well, Vlora will need to kick into another gear to keep up.
Austin Villa 2-2 St. Croix
Both Austin Villa and St. Croix looked good at the start of their respective seasons, leaving this game, Austin Villa’s home opener, a real point of interest for week three. It did not disappoint, as St. Croix took a big halftime lead of 2-0 thanks to Ramzi Ouro and Will Miers, continuing to look like one of the most dangerous attacks in the division.
Austin Villa, however, had answers. The hosts found two second half goals, one in extra time, from Rylan Boldt and Raul Alfonso Fernandez to even it out at 2-2 and claim a big point against a St. Croix side that was two for two with 10 goals before this weekend.
St. Croix’s 2-1-0 start is still phenomenal, there’s no questioning that, but Austin Villa have provided proof the club isn’t infallible and has a nice four points of their own to start off the summer. It’s worth noting that St. Croix have made great use of players with UPSL experience this season, including former Minneapolis City players like Ramzi Ouro and Kevin Andrews.