Med City and Steel City prepare to take penalties. Photo courtesy of Med City.
Med City 0(6)-0(7) Steel City (NPSL Midwest Semifinal)
Med City traveled to Iowa last weekend to play in the NPSL Midwest playoffs following their North championship win over Duluth. They played Steel City of Pittsburgh, the first-ever time the two clubs have faced off.
The 90 minutes that followed were a classic, if patience-requiring, Med City performance. The Mayhem defended in a way that harkened back to the performances we saw in 2022, holding out against Steel City’s attack throughout as the two sides drew the night out to a 0-0 draw and moved into 30 minutes of added extra time.
Iker Gonzalez, recently named to the NPSL North Best XI, looked as confident as ever in goal, while Med City’s backline did their job providing him the tools to manage the goal line. The Mayhem did find chances to attack, but were equally unable to break Steel City’s wall.
Med City’s defense remained resolute in the AET, maintaining their clean sheet and executing their plan well with moments of attacking threat that almost turned the tables in the night’s game. Steel City will likely feel they earned their goal in the 30 added minutes, but the Mayhem refused to let the ball cross the line and the game went to penalties for the first time in Med City’s three game playoff run.
What followed was an epic clash from the two teams at the penalty spot as 8 rounds of penalties were taken to decide who would play Tulsa Athletic in the regional final. Both teams missed their opening shots to provide a stuttered start, but both then scored six consecutive penalties as player after player found their way past the respective opposition goalkeepers.
Steel City’s William Afawubo scored his penalty, the club’s eighth attempt, to set up the telling moment as Matias Millard’s penalty, Med City’s eighth, went high to end the game as Steel City won 7-6 and moved forward in the playoffs.
The result, at least for now, ends a historic run for Med City, who have earned two trophies in their last two years, going from no NPSL conference titles in four seasons to two in two. Along the way, the club has vastly expanded its playoff history with trips to Michigan and Iowa to play the best in the Midwest. While the club does have to wait another year for a shot a first regional tournament win, the Mayhem have come forward miles and its an exciting chapter for soccer in the city of Rochester.
Med City vs. Minneapolis City (MN Super Cup Semifinals)
In a match to remember for all sides, Med City topped Minneapolis City 3-2. The victory did not come easily, as the Crows took the lead through Dennis Mensah, who scored a sizzling volley in the 5th minute. That 1-0 lead lasted into half time.
The second half saw the energy turn up in Rochester. Med City suddenly kicked into gear with goals in the 67th and 69th minutes. The first was a clean finish off of a counter attack from Lucas Hart, while the second goal was scored by Ricardo Schroeder after putting pressure on the Minneapolis City goalkeeper, Evan Siefken.
Crows captain Wes Lorrens scored a header off a corner kick to equalize for Minneapolis City, but Mayhem defender Andrew Wilkinson recreated the goal at the other end to return the lead to Med City just minutes later and the Mayhem went on to win, meaning the NPSL North will be the only of the main three lower league men’s leagues in Minnesota present in the final.
Vlora vs. Minnesota United U19’s (MN Super Cup Semifinals)
The Minnesota United U19’s had to be patient in their win on penalties over Vlora FC. A diving header following a free kick from Diego Valencia opened the scoring for Vlora in the 69th minute. MNUFC scored a crisp goal from a MNUFC U19 player on a quick transition in the 88th minute to even things out.
No deciding goal came in added extra time, meaning the match went to penalty kicks, where the Loons topped Vlora 4-2 in a dramatic showdown featuring multiple saves, a retake following an early jump from Mitch Wolff, and a winner from a MNUFC U19 player.
While the Minnesota United U19’s were clearly a side to contend with coming into this tournament, I think it’s fair to say many were also unsure if they’d either dominate or struggle down the stretch. The young Loons have shown they can go head-to-head with experienced adults with their win against Minneapolis City, draw against Duluth FC, and penalty shootout win over Vlora.
The inaugural Minnesota Super Cup Final takes place this Saturday, July 29th at Macalester College Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT and tickets can be purchased HERE.