Thu. Sep 21st, 2023
Editor’s Note: Kyle Eliason covered Minneapolis City SC, independently, for FiftyFive.One from 2015 to 2017, and since 2021, has served as staff writer for the club. Sota Soccer’s Dominic Jose Bisogno, who answered questions on background information, exempting a break in 2022, has worked as a staff writer for Duluth FC since 2017.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Since its inaugural season in 2016, Minneapolis City SC has never played in a league that did not include at least one opponent also from the Twin Cities metro area.

In that first year, a then second-division Minnesota United fielded its reserve team in the Premier League of America; between 2017 and 2022 the National Premier Soccer League-era Crows squared off against the likes of the Minnesota TwinStars, Viejos Son Los Trapos FC and Joy Athletic; and over the last pair of seasons, City has faced Stillwater-based St. Croix Legends five times in USL League Two action.

But in spite of all local opposition, Minneapolis’ biggest rivalry remains with a club located, as the Crow files, 137 miles to the northeast: Duluth FC.

On Tuesday evening, the pair will meet for the 12th time, but for the first as members of separate leagues, squaring off for a spot in the inaugural Minnesota Super Cup semifinals.

June 30, 2017 — Duluth FC forward Kyle Farrar takes on Minneapolis City SC’s Abdallah Bah at Public Schools Stadium. Image Credit: Alex Ganeev/Duluth FC


At least a small part of why friction developed between the BlueGreens and Crows are their similarities. As a thought that gnaws privately can be all the more painful to acknowledge openly, half-hearted apologies to any that take offense to the suggestion.

Duluth FC was born from discussions held in 2014, and the following year, the BlueGreens began play in the Duluth Amateur Soccer League. In 2016, the club joined its first regional competition, achieving an undefeated 4-0-4 record and finishing second in the American Premier League.

Two-hours south on I-35, still in 2016, another amateur team was looking to make the jump to regional play. Minnesota Amateur Soccer League club Stegman’s SC launched Minneapolis City into the aforementioned PLA.

Growing out of local men’s-league teams, Duluth and Minneapolis each had to prioritize fan engagement, community sponsorship, and competitive soccer out of necessity. Unlike many of their opponents over the subsequent years, neither could draw on resources as the senior team perched atop a large youth soccer club. Get shirt sponsors, hang in-stadium ads, sell merch, sell tickets, and find volunteers, or go broke from facilities-rental, league dues, referee fees, and travel costs.

That shared financial reality motivated both teams to build public interest in their respective communities. Among amatuer teams in the Land of 10,000 lakes, the pair received a bit of early-mover advantage, growing fan bases at an opportune time, just ahead of an oncoming national-boom in similar leagues, which did not leave Minnesota untouched. (Fast-forward to present day, and assigners have had difficulty finding enough officials to work the panoply of USL2, NPSL, UPSL, USLW and WPSL games this summer.)

Those fan bases meant, when the two clubs would almost-immediately sour on one another, others besides players and coaches noticed.

If any readers are looking to start their own regional or national summer league, to add to the current glut, recent-history suggests they would do well to avoid giving it a name that results in an acronym comprised of the letters A, L and P. Both incarnations of the APL and PLA folded after their 2016 seasons. But fortuitously for lower-division soccer fans in Minnesota, it was this combination of events that set the BlueGreens and Crows on a collision course.

The pair would join the NPSL’s then-newly rebranded North Conference in 2017, and over the next five seasons, battle to a nearly-even 5-4-2 record; just one win to City’s favor. Neither team would place lower than third, until 2022, when Minneapolis opted to field an NPSL team while also joining League Two, and slipped to a fourth-place finish in the former.

Last season, amid that frustration of failing to secure a top-three finish, City found schadenfreude in helping to delay the BlueGreens’ second North Conference title by at least a year.

The Crows, through no lack of effort, lost both games against the eventual-champion, Rochester, Minn.’s Med City FC. But Minneapolis managed to white-knuckle a 2-1 home win against then-undefeated Duluth. 

And while City honored its intent for the 2022 season — to play in two leagues, using a large, single pool of senior-team players — NPSL head coach Marco Campoverde was given his pick of personnel to ensure victory at home over Minneapolis’ rivals.

“Whatever they want to do as a club, it’s not my concern,” said former conference-and-division-winning BlueGreens midfielder, and current Duluth FC head coach, Sean Morgan. “But whenever we went down to play them, I know about City, and I know enough about teams around the area, to know which players are which. It’s pretty obvious [in June of 2022] they’re putting out a stronger team, with guys that are playing USL2 games in previous weeks, against us.”

The BlueGreens would go on to finish a single-point behind Med City in the 2022 North Conference standings.

June 1, 2019 — Minneapolis City SC’s Aaron Olson Carrie’s the ball upfield at Edor Nelson Field against Duluth FC. Image Credit: Daniel Mick

First Encounters

Between May of 2017 and June of 2019, the two teams played against each other a half-dozen times. Though never beating Minneapolis by more than a one-goal margin, Duluth built a 3-1-2 head-to-head record to start the series. Judging only by the BlueGreens’ early on-field success, it might seem strange that the feud became a two-way affair by just the second meeting.

It all began with a 1-1 draw at Edor Nelson Field in the City of Lakes on May 20, 2017. Crows’ fan-favorite Martin Browne, Jr. opened scoring with what would become his trademark — a left-footed free kick, more dangerous for bend and placement than pace.

Things were looking good for the hosts. That is, until Browne’s brother, 2016 Open Cup Qualifying hero Whitney, was sent off. The younger Browne was shown red when he ended a pre-free-kick exchange of pulling and pushing with a forearm. Making the most of a man advantage, second-half substitute Mally Lumsden would level the game in added time, salvaging a result for the visitors.

Addressing the outcome, and an instance of shithousery, the stately Martin Browne, Jr., let, what was for him, an uncommon touch of exasperation slip out.

“The red card was cheap,” Martin said. “[Duluth center back Gonnie Ben-Tal] baited Whitney into getting a red. That shouldn’t have been the case. It’s one of those things, [Whitney] needs to grow up as well. He shouldn’t fall for stuff like that.”

Conversely, the BlueGreens’ hackles weren’t raised, not quite yet.

When Duluth captain Kyle Farrar calmly said, postgame, “We always like a derby. It was a tough game, but enjoyable,” he wasn’t actually referring to Minneapolis, directly.

Rather, the College of St. Scholastica alumnus was comparing an evening that included six yellows and a red to the kind of physical contest he had experienced annually, via the Saints’ Bridge Derby with the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Hell, that initial Crows-BlueGreens match was tame by Bridge Derby standards.

Thirty-four days later, following a 2-1 BlueGreens win at Public Schools Stadium in the Zenith City, Farrar’s perspective had changed.

“A lot has been said over the season. Both teams wanted to go out and prove themselves right,” noted the victorious forward.

“It wasn’t so much for the three points. It was for pride.”

May 20, 2017 — Duluth FC midfielder Sean Morgan is shown in action at Edor Nelson Field against Minneapolis City SC. Image Credit: Alex Ganeev/Duluth FC

Twin Ports Versus Twin Cities

At a shade under 300,000 people, the Twin Ports metropolitan area that Duluth shares with Superior, Wisc. is more than an order of magnitude smaller than the Twin Cities metro. The latter broke four-million inhabitants in the 2020 census.

“Duluth’s a pretty working-class city, blue-collar, and very gritty,” said Morgan. “There’s probably a perception in the Midwest that you have to be a bit hard or a bit nuts to live here, at times, with the weather, and survive in the winter. People go down to the Cities, and everything a little-bit shinier and bigger. More things to do and more resources.

“As a club, our mentality has always been that we never say die. If we’re behind in games, that we’ll always get an opportunity to pull a goal back and get something out of it. We’re always going to work hard and outwork the opposition.

“At times, maybe that was fuel for us. Looking down at teams in the Metro area, Minneapolis being one of them, that they’re coming from a little bit more privilege. Or, that they’ve got that arrogance about them, where they’re looking up here, thinking, ‘Oh, they don’t know what they’re doing up there. Duluth’s a small place, bunch of country folks,’ or whatever. In my time playing, that was somewhat the motivation; let’s go down there and show them what we’re all about. And when they come here, let’s show them how we’re going to play.”

A significant factor in the BlueGreens’ early success — which included an undefeated APL season followed by a 2017 NPSL North Conference title — was the club’s local connection to the College of St. Scholastica. Prior to the 2020 recession when financial resources were reduced, head coach Barry Chastey made impressive use of a recruiting pipeline to the British Isles that brought in talented players like Morgan, Farrar, Joe Watt, Tom Corcoran, Andrew Jenkins, Ben Phillips and Charlie Crane — all of whom went on to play for DFC.

“I always remember looking at the college rankings when I was playing at Trinity University in San Antonio,” said all-time Minneapolis City appearances leader, Aaron Olson, “and we were always top-three in the [Division III] national rankings. But statistically, you looked at leading scorers, and St. Scholastica always had one or two guys that were just blowing the scoring-leaderboard out of the water. Maybe the conference they were playing in wasn’t the greatest, but you’ve got to have some talent to produce at that level.

“Then, we got into the NPSL. When we got to play them, I thought, ‘Yeah, these guys are for real. It’s not just that they’re playing against some shit teams up there.’ They have that X-factor, that it doesn’t matter who they’re playing. But particularly when they do play a team that has a target on its back, like City, they’re gonna bring their A-game. They’re going to play with additional intensity.”

Farrar, who recorded a whopping 72 goals and 46 assists in 83 career-games for Scholastica, would go on to become the BlueGreens all-time leading scorer, and now has the club’s golden-boot award named in his honor.

The inclusion of all of the aforementioned Saints players was a boon to the then-newly rebranded North Conference and its spectators. Simultaneously, their integration with DFC’s early marketing did raise the odd eyebrow in Minneapolis.

Tim Sas, the Romanian Orthodox priest that founded DFC, took a family-friendly approach to branding the BlueGreens, perhaps particularly when compared to Minneapolis City.

As a DASL team, in its inaugural 2015-season, there’s every reason to believe DFC did adhere to a club rule about refraining from swearing while on the field. And there was palpable tension, two-years later, between home fans and the Minneapolis Citizens supporters’ group, when the latter visited Duluth.

The Citizens drew rebuke in the stands for language used in a long-running chant of theirs, that involves mention of corvus brachyrhynchos defecating on automobiles with open sunroofs. BlueGreens fans did have the last laugh, chanting “Score-board!” several times over the evening’s final half-hour, during a game in which Duluth led from 9th-minute Farrar goal to final whistle.

When Sas mentioned his club’s rule prohibiting offensive language in an interview for FiftyFive.One, ahead of the team’s first season in the NPSL, a reader who wished to remain anonymous, as they were intimately involved with the Twin Ports soccer scene, reached out.

“CSS usually has a bunch of kids from England, and they don’t come over here on some sort of religious mission,” said the source. “They speak like English footballers, with the word ‘f—k’ used as a noun, verb, adjective, and sometimes a preposition. To them, a proper use of the Oxford comma involves the phrase, ‘F—k you, f—k them, and f—k all.’”

Meanwhile, the opportunity to play in front of fans who weren’t comprised mostly of players’ parents helped City stand out among multiple amateur-teams in the Twin Cities.

“Playing with City, there is this expectation of a winning culture, and that being in the larger metro area, we’d be able to draw from a bigger pool of talent, even with the ethos of the team being ‘keep the roster local,’” said Olson.

May 24, 2019 — Minneapolis City SC midfielder Aiden O’Driscoll shown, mid-game, at Edor Nelson Field. Image Credit: Daniel Mick

Les Enfants Terribles

All of Minneapolis City’s three co-founders were in their 30s when they launched the club ahead of the summer of 2016. Two-thirds of that trio — chairman Dan Hoedeman and former scouting director/current broadcast commentator Jon Bisswurm — work in advertising, as does longtime PA announcer Nate Morales.

Many of the heads of other NPSL North clubs, then and now, older, had played in the MASL of yore, and knew one another. When a younger and noisier City joined the party, the reception the Crows received cooled quickly.

The ad kids from Minneapolis had ideas about how to get attention for their new team. They involved a social media persona that was often silly, irreverent, engaging and absurdist, and also at times, petulant. They also understood their audience, and within the not-for-proift financial means of a team run by middle-class professionals, catered to fan experience.

The approach drew in supporters from around the Twin Cities, at least successfully enough to lead the NPSL North in attendance for all of the Crows’ six seasons in the conference. It also, on social media, once drew a monetary fine from the league office.

“City have always been a well-run club,” said Morgan, with a touch of magnanimity. “When they got started in the NPSL, there was not just us, but [for] other teams in the league, they were the benchmark — getting crowds in and playing good football. I’m sure other clubs looked at that with a little bit of jealousy.”

There was, however, a disconnect in sensibilities between City’s millennials and much of the North Conference’s leadership. The former sought engagement and at times fed controversy. The latter wanted respect for time served in the state’s small soccer community, and at times the flattering of egos, as well as for all involved to go along to get along. Both approaches, for their respective practitioners, were initially-sincere attempts at being business partners. Not that professional wrestling and professional golf, to give another example, see eye to eye on promotion.

The public tone set by Hoedeman and company was shared by many of City’s fans. This, too, could be received by some as abrasive.

One thing that did catch the eye of BlueGreens players was a banner brought to Public Schools Stadium in 2017, for the first-ever Duluth home game against Minneapolis. After a card-heavy first encounter in which it was City that had a player sent off, the Citizens reworked Duluth FC’s original crest, replacing the Lift Bridge with a donkey and Enger Tower with a broken bone. The tifo was captioned, “Get Your Kicks From DFC.”

”I know, at the time, City were pushing social media, doing a good job of getting the word out, and building the club, and you can’t begrudge them for that,” said Morgan. “But, you know, we were kind of labeled as being a team that’s just gonna come out and kick people. And [that] we just play this kind of traditional British style of football, where we just play 4-4-2 and kick it long and battle. Thinking back, and even at the time, I don’t believe that was ever our mentality.

“Yeah, we might have been physical and never shirked a challenge. But we always tried to play. I think the thing that probably pissed a lot of guys off, more so than anything else, is [the suggestion] that, ‘Hey, these guys can’t play, they’re just here to kick people,’ and so-forth.

“There’s probably an element of we want to prove people wrong, but we’re not gonna back down, and we’re willing to mix it, both ways, if we need to.”

June 23, 2017 — The Minneapolis Citizens supporters’ group unveils a banner, pre-game, that reads, “Get Your Kicks From DFC.” Image Credit: Minneapolis Citizens

On Field

What began with an only mildly-notable but physical first-encounter grew into a competitive rivalry, as both Duluth and Minneapolis fought for conference titles (along with Rochester’s Med City FC).

“You love the game [against Duluth] and hate the game, at the same time,” said Olson. “You always get up to play them, because you know that it’s going to be battle, and there’s so much intensity and emotion behind it.

“There was an understanding that if you take the first game from that home-and-away series, you’re going to be in a really good spot moving forward.

“The first year we were in the NPSL, I don’t really think any of us knew exactly what it was going to become. The players Duluth has been able to bring in, season after season, it’s always surprising. But it’s always great that they find the talent that they find, because it raises the level of the league. It heightens the level of the game.”

As mentioned, it was Duluth that seized the NPSL North’s inaugural title. For the next three seasons — skipping a 2020 campaign canceled due to COVID-19 — Minneapolis would claim the next three, while Duluth would finish second, third, and second, respectively.

However, during City’s time in the conference, the top two teams following regular-season play advanced to the Midwest Division playoffs (more on that, later). And in 2018, Duluth beat Minneapolis 2-1 in Ann Arbor, Mich. to advance as the Midwest’s representative in the national semifinals, eventually losing only to Miami FC II’s roster of professionals in the final. The BlueGreens remain the only NPSL North team to win the Midwest Division.

(The TwinStars have also done so, but a decade earlier as members of a different conference.)

Sota Soccer asked Morgan and Olson — both members of their respective 2017 squads when the two teams first met — as well as current-BlueGreen Jake Starling and current-Crow Aidan O’Driscoll, for the Duluth-City games that have stuck in their memories.

June 23, 2017: Minneapolis 1 – Duluth 2
Duluth answers back.

“Probably that 2-1 game, to be honest, memory-wise,” said Morgan. “It was everybody’s first year playing at that level. Off the back of a 1-1, both teams are going well in the conference, and probably the donkeys thing made it a bit more sweet at the time.

“Those early years kind of formed our attitude as a club, and having that grittiness that I mentioned earlier, that kind of never-say-die attitude, that’s a memory people will hold.”

June 30, 2018: Minneapolis 4 – Duluth 2
City clinches the NPSL North amid an undefeated regular season.

“My favorite win over Duluth was the season we played at Osseo High School, and they came to Osseo,” said Olson. “I believe the score was 2-0 and Matt Elder saved a penalty kick, almost right before halftime. Elder saved that PK and that moment, I think we all looked at each other and we just knew we were going to win that game.

“That was also the game that Abdallah Bah, charging up the left wing, cutting in to the right, just unleashed hell with his right foot. Just a scorcher to the top corner. That was a magical season.”

July 20, 2018: Minneapolis 1 – Duluth 2
Playing in Ann Arbor, Mich. it’s the BlueGreens who advance to the Midwest Division final after an extra-time win.

“That game sucked,” Olson said. “That was definitely one of my least-favorite games. It was just the ancillary factors to that game that just completely ruined it for us. I mean, no blame goes to Bah for having a nose ring that he couldn’t get out, for whatever reason. He just had trouble getting it out before the game, then we started with 10 guys. And we continued to play the start of the game with 10 guys for 15 minutes or so, and we ended up getting scored on in those minutes.”

“Then we had to sit there and watch Duluth go to the national semifinals after that. And we had to sit there with the knowledge, in our heads, that had we won, we definitely would have had the talent to take us to the national semis that year.”

June 1, 2019: Minneapolis 1 – Duluth 2
Away, at Edor Nelson Field, Duluth tallies the third win of the series’ first-four.

“More of the 2019 one, away,” said BlueGreens all-time appearances leader and native-Floridan, Starling, “because that was my first summer up here. And that was the heart of the rivalry, and I got to experience those fans and what it was like. I believe Lucas Jacobs scored a later winner, somewhere around the [84th] minute.

“Just being in that environment and being able to get 3 points in front of all those fans. To win for our team, and make sure our presence was known. We knew they were one team you had to go through to get points off of, so that was more memorable, for me.”

June 30, 2021: Duluth 1 – Minneapolis 6
The Crows win the conference away with the most uneven score in series history.

”The one that stands out is obviously the 6-1 up at their place,” said O’Driscoll. “I think that was to seal our [conference] title. And you know, I ended up getting our fifth goal in that one.”

“We were down to 10 men,” Morgan noted. “When the game was tight, I think it was 2-1, we opened up and went for it. And, we paid for that, obviously, leaving spaces and conceding goals.”

May 6, 2021 — Duluth FC captain Jake Starling brings the ball out of the back against Minneapolis City SC at Edor Nelson Field. Image Credit: Holden Law/Duluth FC

Parting Ways

”As far as the rivalry, I think it’s been built up and blown up because of things that have happened off the field. Like owners groups, or whatever-whatever. I personally know Jonah Garcia and the Oliver boys. Whenever we were playing them, it was always hammer and tongs for 90 minutes, but felt like there was a degree of respect after the game. That you battled for it and whoever won, won. Yeah it sucked if you lost, but you shook hands with the other team and got on with it.

“Even after the fact, I still peak to people I run across who played in those games. There’s good people at both clubs. And there’s elements of different things written in different mediums, and maybe not so much confined to the players, but confined to the people associated with the clubs kind-of enhancing the rivalry.”

In speaking with all current and former players quoted in this article, it was clear the heightened animosity that has gone on, behind the scenes, between the leadership of two clubs, did not make its way back to the players. And none were familiar with the events of 2020 that occurred when there was no NSPL summer season.

Friction over City’s approach to marketing and social media engagement had irked the rest of the folks who ran teams in the North, along with the Milwaukee Torrent, such that those who were members of the conference at the time submitted a complaint to the league office, to the effect that Minneapolis be dismissed from the NPSL. Further, they issued a collective-ultimatum threatening to leave the league were the Crows still members come 2021.

The corporate disciplinary committee found that City had violated no league bylaws, that there were no grounds for dismissal, and suggested the complainants reconsider their ultimatum, which evidently they did. It also placed all NPSL North teams on probation with regards to social media content.

One specific and notably-flimsy accusation was that the Crows were guilty of posting anti-German sentiment on social media. It came as a particular surprise to City co-founder Jonathan Bisswurm, the son of a German-immigrant father from Baden-Württemberg, who grew up playing for the Milwaukee Bavarians, and was once on the books of Fußball-Club Kaiserslautern as a reserve-team player.

The disciplinary committee noted the complaint had not even bothered to provide the social media post in question, which turned out to be an animated gif Minneapolis had tweeted. That gif contained John Belushi’s character, John “Bulto” Bultarsky, from the 1978 film Animal House, asking the comically-confused rhetorical question, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!”

Per City, conversations between then-Minneapolis general manager Adam Prybil and Sas confirmed that the latter, in his capacity as the then-owner of Duluth FC had joined the complaint, and as the highest-ranking member of the North Conference — one of eight regional representatives on the league’s board of directors — strongly supported it. Thankfully for City, the complaint was heard by a committee that exempted any of the parties involved.

Sas declined an invitation to provide comment when contacted, and noted he is no longer a member of Duluth FC. This past January, the team was sold to Olympic curling goal medalist John Shuster and Gitchi Gummi Soccer Club co-founder Alex Giuliani.

The dismissed complaint would have knock-on effects, like adding to the bad blood that prompted the Crows’ brass to prioritize a home victory against the BlueGreens, amid a congested schedule, last season.

City began considering joining another league to hedge against future attempts to render it suddenly without a place in which to play. In 2022, the Crows joined USL League Two. When fielding teams in both League Two and the NPSL proved an ill-advised undertaking, Minneapolis left the NPSL ahead of the 2023 season.

It is also possible the fallout had an impact on this year’s NPSL North title.

If for no-other reason than self-interest, as one of the better North conference teams in years past, the Crows had opposed a previous proposal to determine the conference’s champion via playoffs. Minneapolis was and would have remained a predictable nay-vote, strongly preferring regular-season record be the lone determinant of who was king in the North.

Ahead of the 2023 campaign, the North followed most — but not all — NPSL conferences in adopting single-elimination playoffs. In its specific case, the top-four teams from the regular season would play to determine its champion.

Objectively, Med City, which defeated Duluth 2-1 in extra time on Saturday — in a game that saw 14 cautions and four red cards — is the new NPSL North champion. This is plain fact.

Subjectively, it isn’t wholly-unreasonable to suggest Morgan’s BlueGreens, who put together a truly-stellar, undefeated regular season in which they led all-93 NPSL teams in points-per-game and goals scored, were a bit hard-done by the conference’s current format.

June 1, 2019 — Minneapolis City SC celebrates after scoring against Duluth FC at Edor Nelson Field. Image Credit: Daniel Mick
June 1, 2019 — Minneapolis City SC fans react to a Crows goal in a game that Duluth FC would win 2-1 at Edor Nelson Field. Image Credit: Daniel Mick

Super Cup Reunion

On Tuesday, for both Crows and BlueGreens, it’s advance or go home.

That Minneapolis will host Duluth in the final Group A Minnesota Super Cup game for both teams is a notable advantage for the Crows. But earlier results, in which City lost to Minnesota United FC MLS Next, and Duluth tied 1-1 with the same U19 Loons, means DFC needs only a draw to reach the tournament’s semifinals.

“We know what we need to do,” said Morgan.

A Bluegreens win this week would also even the all-time series at 5-5-2.

And though they would never, ever have wished it, Morgan and the BlueGreens, with no divisional playoff games on the weekend, will be able to focus on Tuesday’s cup tie.

With a decent amount of turnover in both side’s rosters coming into the season, veterans Starling and O’Driscoll have briefed younger teammates on what to expect at Edor Nelson Field.

“I told the guys here, that haven’t played [the Crows] yet, that when we go to Minneapolis City, the atmosphere and environment is going to be a lot different than any other team we’ve played,” Starling said. “Going to play at Augsburg with all the fans screaming and yelling at you, and they don’t really like us, puts a different environment on things.

“Honestly, I love going to play there because there’s much more to it than just three points… you want to play the best to be the best.”

Interviewing Starling for just a few minutes, it becomes evident the versatile defender is, as a player, all business. As to if the prospect of ending City’s season was an added prize, the BlueGreens’ field general had his sights locked on a different target.

“We want to win,” Starling said. “We’re focusing on our part so we can move on in the Super Cup.”

O’Driscoll, for his own part, is also rallying his teammates.

“I think it’s important,” said O’Driscoll, “to let our guys [who haven’t played in a Duluth-City game] know, that this is a game that’s important to the club. And that it has been important to the club. And that there’s some history involved.

“It was essentially the two-best teams from the NPSL [North], pretty much every year, with maybe the exception of a couple years when Med City was challenging for the title. Coming into the team, you knew this was going to be a tough game. You knew there was going to be some history on the line, even though [initially] I didn’t know how loaded that phrase was. And you knew, going into the game, Duluth was going to be up for it.

“That’s what the older guys told me when I was first stepping into the first-team. And they were right.”

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