PREVIEW: CROWS VS FUSION

Minneapolis City play host to Dakota Fusion in a crunch early season match between two title contenders.

The Crows were supposed to have played at TwinStars on Wednesday, but “technical difficulties” were the reason cited by the Dragons when they unilaterally cancelled the game. Disappointing to say the least, but with Dakota also idle on Wednesday, it means that both sides come into this game equally rested.

Last season, Fusion came roaring back to grab a shock 3-2 win over City in Minneapolis while the Crows were able to return the favor with a controlled 1-0 win in Moorhead. It’s two sides with distinctly different styles, but with a lot of parity on the pitch.

Midfielder Ian Smith, just returned to Minneapolis, is upbeat. “It feels great to be back and amongst it again. The guys have been training hard all week and the atmosphere around the sessions has been spot on, really excited to get out and play again and hopefully get 3 points in front of The Citizens.”

INJURY UPDATE

Issac Friendt is out for Saturday with a high ankle sprain

Thanks to the incredible work by David Bloomquist and the Twin Cities Orthopedics team, Abdallah Bah is fit enough to make the squad for Saturday. The fullback had been out with a groin injury.

AJ Albers also returns to the squad after putting a back complaint behind him.

Unfortunately, Isaac “Goose” Friendt is out. The tricky winger sustained a high ankle sprain in the Med City match and is out for a few weeks. Also out is Nick Hutton, who was unable to overcome the nagging ankle knock that has bedeviled him since the Sioux Falls game.

There are a few other notable absences as players return to town for the summer. Forward Juan Louis and midfielders Shae Bottum and Tommy Katsiyiannis are unavailable for selection this weekend, but should work into the team once they are back in Minneapolis.

Dakota scouting report

Fusion have a pair of draws on the books so far this season, 4-4 against Duluth in the Open Cup and 2-2 against VSLT in NPSL North play. It’s a familiar team, with Jade Johnson still banging in goals, and a familiar tactical set-up.

Our man in the Red River Valley said “they still play a direct game. Who wouldn’t with Jade Johnson to hit? However, their new coach has evolved their style a little bit and they should involve the wings more than we saw last season. Also, they picked up a defensive midfielder who can really pull the strings, he’s a great pick-up and City will have to shut him down to get a result.”

Despite the new man in the midfield, it’s really all about Golden Boot winner Jade Johnson. The lethal frontman just scores goals, and the Crows will need a plan to keep him quiet.

Head Coach Adam Pribyl is bullish. “Our boys last week vs Med City showed the heart and grit it takes to be successful in this league. The talent is there, but it takes a lot of courage as well to do the little things to secure 3 points day in and day out.”

Pribyl continued, “three weeks in a row – Med City, Dakota, Duluth. These are tough opponents and these games are critical for our season. As we saw in the US Open Cup, Dakota is tough and they can score goals in a hurry if need be. However, I am less concerned about the other team. I am more concerned with out guys, how we prepare, and the product we put out on the field. If we do what we need to do and play the way we are very capable of playing, I have the utmost confidence in our team.”

It’s about getting started quickly

So far this season, slow starts have put City in a hole that they have to climb out of. While they remain unbeaten, wins could have been secured against Luther and Sioux Falls without a dodgy early start.

Look for the Crows to tweak their pre-game routine and focus on a strong, organized start to the game. Especially given how quick Fusion have started—especially against Duluth where they scored within the first five minutes—it is going to be important to match their intensity early.

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