Minneapolis City’s offensive juggernaut was not stopped by La Crosse Aris on Wednesday night as the Crows scored five goals for the second game in succession as they downed Aris 5-1.
There were a lot of new faces in the Minneapolis City line-up. Keen to keep his players fresh, head coach Adam Pribyl used the visit of La Crosse Aris to rotate his squad and give some players a chance to show what they could do.
After a cautious opening 10 minutes, where City circulated the ball all around the field feeling out their opponents, those players showed that they could do a lot.
With midfielder Max Stiegwardt pulling the strings, and getting involved into sight of goal himself, City’s attackers began creating chances with wondrous ease. The front four of Nick Hutton, Tim Wills, Sekou Kromah and Juan Louis used pace, trickery, and intricate passing interchanges to get sight of goal. So it was no surprise when Wills was able to break the deadlock, slamming home after Kromah’s powerful shot had been clawed away by Centeno in the Aris goal.
Minutes later, fullback Abdallah Bah went charging down the touchline and sent a swerving, menacing shot that flicked just wide of the far post.
No matter, three minutes after that City won a corner and Max Stiegwardt’s delivery found the head of Max Kent and, together, the Max’s made it 2-0 to City.
Everything was going City’s way at this point and the character of the match was set: City would possession and craft openings and, here and there, Aris would counter. Rinse, repeat.
Centeno was getting a workout, but also proving his class. With half an hour gone he pulled off a fine double save against Hutton.
However, he was beaten in the 34th minute when a fine ball from Stiegwardt was chested down and past the onrushing goalkeeper by Kromah who finished–despite the ball bouncing awkwardly–with insouciant ease.
As the minutes died down, the Crows visibly took their foot off of the accelerator. That slight lapse was all that Aris needed to get on the scoresheet, their speedy attackers finding the slightest of openings to shoot. The shot, which deflected heavily off of Kent, wrong-footed Elder in the City goal and trickled in off of the inside of the far post.
The half ended with City leading 3-1.
The final 45 minutes followed the pattern of the first, with Minneapolis City hogging the ball and attack, attack, attacking Centeno’s goal. To his immense credit, Centeno was unfazed. He faced shots, 1-on-1’s, crosses, and chips, and put on a fine display of goalkeeping.
However, it was not enough to stop Wills from completing his hat trick.
Early in the second half, Stiegwardt leaped like the orca from Free Willy to head a high ball through the Aris back four. Wills read it perfectly, dribbled slightly wide of the goal and curled a lovely shot around the despairing Centeno and into the back of the net.
With an hour gone, Hutton, who had spent all evening doing this, found joy against his marker, got to the byline and found Wills with a smart cut-back. The forward made no mistake to bag his hat trick.
City used their full complement of substitutions and they should have gotten on the scoresheet. Centeno was again and again called on to make stops against Hutton, the Browne brothers, and Will Kidd, and his defense cleared the ball off the line twice to keep the scoreline at 5-1 to Minneapolis City.
The win may have been expected, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t vital. The three points keep Minneapolis City at the top of the table with St. Paul rivals Viejos son los Trapos.