Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Image: @mplscitysc/Twitter

It was a week of firsts in USL League Two this time around, with Minneapolis City grabbing the full three points for the first time this season in their matchup with Bavarian United SC, while St. Croix Legends dropped their first points of the season in their game against RKC Third Coast.

Minneapolis City SC 1-0 Bavarian United SC

All eyes were on Edor Nelson field last Friday as the Crows took the field against the Bavarians. Minneapolis City had been off to a rough start to the season, managing only one point from their first three games, and were desperately looking to get their season kick started against bottom of the table Bavarian United who themselves were on a three game losing streak to mark their first season in USL2 competition.

If City were going to find a breakthrough, it would have to be without their first choice Goalkeeper. Kaelen Matascastillo took the field as part of the starting line-up after Oscar Herrera, who had started the first three games of the season for City, had been plugged as the presumed starter on their social media.

Matascastillo would be thrown directly into the fire when Jackson Castro sent in a cross in the 10th minute that found the head of Mitchell Dryden, who sent a rocketing header on target that Matacastillo was able to deflect up onto the crossbar. Play was eventually stopped for offsides in the build-up, but a warning shot had been fired, and it seemed the Crows were ready. Bavarians would challenge again in the 23rd as Mikkel Fodstad was played over Minneapolis’ backline and attempted an audacious chip of the keeper, just barely missing over the bar in a bid to put them up 1-0 early.

Not to be outdone, Eli Goldman, coming off of a hattrick against RKC Third Coast and a goal against Rochester FC, made his own run in behind the Bavarians defenders, was found with a beautiful looping pass over the top, and tried to chip Tobias Jahn. Unfortunately for Goldman, his attempt hits the inside of the post and bounces across the six-yard box before being cleared out by United to snuff out the danger. This kick started a brilliant couple of minutes for the Crows. Goldman proceeded to immediately lead a counter-attack that saw him do his best Luka Modric impression, cross the ball with the outside of his boot right onto Hakeem Morgan’s foot who himself dished out a nifty little no look pass for Eric Contreras who blasted it into the crossbar for the Crows second chance in as many minutes. Ultimately, it would be Hakeem who would play the ball that lead to Minneapolis City’s lead, as he launches a cross just shy of the box, begging Jahn to come out for it, and when he does Morgan’s St. Olaf teammate Shea Bechtel is right there to head it past him for the opening goal of the match, giving them the lead that they would take into halftime.

Bavarian United would do their best to even the score in the second half, coming close in the 48th and 54th minutes, only to be denied by Matacastillo both times, the first a nice clean save, but the second saw City in a bit of a scramble as a corner from the Bavarians had the time to bounce around in the box and cause quite a few hearts to rise in their throats before it was properly dealt with. Matacastillo made sure to clean up the next corner much quicker, with a strong punch in the 82nd keeping the Crows in the lead as time wound down.

And that was all she wrote at Edor Nelson Field, as Minneapolis City picked up their first win of an admittedly still young USL2 season. On top of which, Kaelen Matacastillo picked up the Citizens Man of the Match Award with his brilliant performance in net. It’ll be interesting to see if this will be a one off from Carl Craig, or who will be in net when the Crows face-off against Rochester FC on June 10th

You can catch City’s first win of the season here:

RKC Third Coast 3-1 St. Croix Legends

St. Croix Legends and RKC Third Coast came into their game tied for first in the division, with both teams having won their first two games of the season and putting their unblemished records on the line in this top of the table clash, and the game did not disappoint.

The Legends started the game off on the front foot with the team’s leading goal scorer, Nathan Donovan, being the first to test RKC’s goalkeeper, beating his defender off of the dribble before his attempt on goal was saved. Kevin Andrews followed that up not a minute later, finding himself one-on-one with the keeper before the offsides flag was waved, ending the attack before it he could unleash a shot. Despite the Legends best attempts, it was RKC that struck first, building up the wing before finding an oh so sweet cutback that Benjamin Barkley was able to put into the side netting in the 17th minute to give RKC Third Coast an early lead.

RKC would threaten again when they earned a corner in the 26th minute. Initially ruled a goal, it was called off after a discussion between the Assistant and Center Referees, allowing St. Croix to remain within one goal to their Wisconsin rivals. And wouldn’t you know it, the Legends weren’t going to let that opportunity go to waste. Aidan Hillis dribbled up field before sending a cross into an on-rushing Nathan Donovan. Donovan put a head onto it, forcing a save from the RKC keeper before slotting home the rebound to tie the game up in the 41st minute with his fourth goal in three games. Wesley Sanders also notched two saves in the waning minutes of the half, one in the 43rd from inside his six-yard box and the second in the 45th, where he stopped a RKC breakaway to keep the score level going into halftime.

The second half was just as much of a back and forth affair for the two teams, with each threatening early. Sanders was forced into another massive save in the 50th minute before Donovan puts his own attempt over the crossbar on the other end of the field in the 56th. Unfortunately for the Legends, the pendulum was swinging against them when another goal came, with RKC’s Joshua Kidder notching home an easy tap-in to restore their lead.

St. Croix had an opportunity to tie the game up again, with Wesley Sanders kicking off a Legends attack with a deep punt that saw Nathan Donovan’s shot saved for a corner. Not willing to give up yet, Donovan then drew a penalty on the ensuing corner, which he stepped up to take with a chance to tie the game.

Unfortunately for Donovan, the keeper was ready, and his penalty was saved to keep RKC on top 2-1. The final goal of the game came with St. Croix pushing for an equalizer, as RKC Third Coast found themselves on a breakaway and Ethan Hoard curled in a shot deep into stoppage time for their third goal of the game.

You can watch the Legends 3-1 defeat here (though it is behind a paywall):

Uneven Standings and Matchweek Five

The Deep North Standings currently have a rather interesting look to them as the seven clubs have played between two and four games each, and due to USL2 rules, they are organized by Points Per Match (PPM) rather than points, so things are a little skewed. Currently RKC Third Coast sit on top thanks to their perfect record of 3 PPM, followed closely by both St. Croix and FC Manitoba, each on 2 PPM. Rochester FC and Minneapolis City SC round out the top five with 1.75 and 1 PPM respectively, followed by Thunder Bay Chill with 0.5 PPM and Bavarian United in the unfortunate position of the cellar having not taken a point from any of their first four league games.

The next game will see Rochester FC attempt to hand RKC Third Coast their first blemish of the season as they face off in Rochester on June 7th before heading to Edor Nelson Field where they will face-off against Minneapolis City SC on June 10th. The St. Croix Legends will look to rebound quickly as they begin their Canadian road trip by taking on Thunder Bay Chill on June 9th before facing off against FC Manitoba on June 11th as they also have a two game matchweek.

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