Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Image: @DanielMickPhoto/Twitter

The Twin Cities Derby was renewed again Sunday night, and the two sides picked up right where they left off earlier in the season. St. Croix came into the match with a 2-1-1 all-time advantage over the Crows, 1-0-0 during the current season, and were looking to finish off their metro rival in their final match-up this USL2 season.

The Legends lost defender Jared Hecht early in the game, as he was replaced by Isaac Eckroth in the 14th minute after picking up an injury. He was able to walk off under his own power, and St. Croix will hope that it was nothing serious with their upcoming Minnesota Super Cup match this Wednesday being a must-win game by virtue of goal differential.

Despite the early substitution, St. Croix was strong defensively, shutting down City’s attacks and winning ball after ball in their defensive third as the Crows continuously pushed numbers forward. They were looking to take advantage of their possession every time as well, pinging searching balls in behind, trying to break their leading goal scorer Nathan Donovan or Kevin Andrews free.

It was one of these passes that found the Legends their first attacking threat, a free-kick just outside of the eighteen yard-box after Kaelen Matascastillo accidentally handled the ball outside of his goal box. Kolton Prater made no mistakes with the opportunity either, smashing the ball inside the right post to put the Legends up 1-0 midway through the first half.

The rest of the first half was characterized by neither team being able to find themselves in dangerous attacking positions, with both the Crows and the Legends playing at the top of their game defensively. Each team had opportunities for close-ranged free-kicks, but neither was able to find the net, and the game went into halftime with the Legends in the driver’s seat thanks to Prater’s free-kick.

The game really kicked into gear in the second half, with St. Croix opening up play looking to get forward, forcing Matascastillo into multiple saves, including an effort that saw Luca Contestabile receive and dribble past a City defender before firing a close range shot into Matascastillo. Aidan O’Driscoll also stepped up big for the Crows, making a sliding tackle in his own box to clear the danger away and keep Minneapolis City within striking distance. O’Driscoll wasn’t finished yet either, picking up the game’s second yellow card, his first, with an off the ball foul against Nathan Donovan. It was a silly foul, with Donovan nowhere near the play, and it would come back to haunt the Crows later in the game.

But first, Nathan Donovan had a goal contribution to pick-up. Donovan saw Matascastillo taking his time trying to decide on a pass, and caught him off-guard, winning the ball off of him in the box and laying it off to the waiting Contestabile who chipped the keeper and three defenders racing back to try and clear the ball to put the Legends up 2-0 with only 25 minutes to go in the game.

Hakeem Morgan would do his best to try and bring Minneapolis City back into the game, chesting down a cross and putting it home on the half volley to cut the lead down to 2-1. The Crows would keep pushing through the end of the game, even having a couple of nice looking attacking opportunities, but reality came a callin’ in the 80th minute with Aidan O’Driscoll holding back Nathan Donovan as the two chased a throw-in and earned himself his second yellow card of the game. That paired with the aforementioned first card was enough to send him on his way for the day, and with City playing down a man for the final ten minutes, they weren’t able to find the energy necessary to overcome St. Croix’s extra man advantage. The Legends would take their 2-1 lead all the way to the end of the match, winning both the game and the season series over Minneapolis City.

You can watch the game in it’s entirety over on St. Croix’s youtube page, here:

‘Eh’ Standings Overview and a Break for the Birds

The Deep North Division is currently as far North as it can go with the two Canadian teams on top by virtue of PPM. FC Manitoba sits alone atop the divisions with 14 points off of 6 matches played for a PPM of 2.33 while second place is shared between Thunder Bay Chill and RKC Third Coast, each with 2 PPM, though RKC does have two more points than Thunder Bay. The Legends are equal on points with RKC, but are down in 4th place in the division since they’ve played an extra game than the Wisconsin side, sitting on 1.71 PPM. The bottom three is rounded out by Rochester FC, Minneapolis City SC, and Bavarian United SC, with 1.43, 0.67, and 0.14 PPM respectively, the Bavarians having only earned one point in the first seven matches of their inaugural season.

St. Croix will be the only of the Minnesotan teams to play in a USL2 match this week, taking on the Bavarians in Stillwater on June 23rd.

Both Minneapolis City and Rochester FC won’t play a League Two match this week, with the Crows’ next two matches taking place at Edor Nelson Field on June 28th and July 1st against Thunder Bay Chill and Bavarian United SC respectively. The Loons meanwhile, will also play a home double-header, taking on the two Canadian teams, with Thunder Bay visiting on June 29th and FC Manitoba visiting RCTC Stadium on July 1st.

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