Minneapolis City routed Viejos son los Trapos FC in Saturday’s Green Line Derby and now sit just a point behind their Twin Cities rival with a game in hand.
Surely the most anticipated game in the North Conference, these are two technical, attacking teams with a long history in the state league. There is deep respect between them, but make no mistake, this is a meaningful rivalry.
Add on that these are the top two teams in the North Conference and this was an absolutely huge match.
VSLT came into this match having conceded only two goals over their first five games. The Sky Blues were not scoring a lot, but they didn’t have to.
Minneapolis City took the opposite approach. They came into this match having scored 11 goals in four games. The Crows should have played a fifth game, but the dreaded “technical difficulties” intervened. Still, it was an impressive goals record.
The question was would offense or defense win the day?
The two teams were set-up to attack. The early stages saw a number of very pretty passing interchanges, but it was the pace of both sides that was unsettling. City’s Will Kidd had an early shout for a penalty when he was hauled down in the box and just minutes later so did VSLT’s Marc Boquin. It was clear that each team was looking for their wingers.
There was a sense that an early goal for either team would shape the match to their definitive advantage, and each team was working hard for it. It was an open game, very fun for the fans.
Sky Blues forward Andrew Jenkins was played in but his shot was stopped by a diving Matt Elder.
With 15 minutes off the clock, City midfielder Ian Smith slipped a pass through the back four for Martin Browne. The ball was bouncing awkwardly, but Browne twisted and contorted like he was in Cirque du Soleil to get a boot on the ball and fire it into the back of the net.
The deluge had begun.
More opportunities continued to open up for City. Martin Browne turned creator for Nick Hutton, but a very good tackle stopped the attack. Again, City came forward. A flurry of shots were blocked by desperate Sky Blues defenders (and a sheepish Martin Browne).
At the other end Boquin’s battle with fullback Aaron Olson was a highlight, neither backing down.
Boquin was all action. He volleyed a cross well over before turning provider, but though his dangerous ball found Jenkins in the middle the forward’s shot was blocked.
Then it was back down the other end, spectators rubbing their necks from all the back and forth, and Hutton picked up the ball on the right wing and went on a mazy run into the box. A cheeky fake, switch of the ball to his left, and shot across the goalkeeper into the net made it 2-0.
Mere minutes later—and not even a half hour into the game—Hutton was again at it. Played in by Tim Wills, Hutton was cut down in the box. Penalty!
Martin Browne stepped up, sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, and it was 3-0 to Minneapolis City.
The attacks continued from both sides. The City defense held strong, Olson and Max Kent particularly impressing, and the attack was humming too. Wills almost lobbed the goalkeeper from the halfway line but his shot drifted just wide. Will Kidd shot just inches wide after a startlingly beautiful passing interchange with Martin Browne.
It wasn’t all City. Boquin dragged a shot just wide after a half clearance, and VSLT were very much still searching for a goal.
In the dying minutes of the half, Kidd, who had been a livewire all game, dribbled into the box where he was scythed down by three Sky Blues defenders in the box. Another penalty.
Max Steigwardt stood over this one. Buried it. 4-0 at the half.
The second half started brightly for VSLT. On 47 minutes, Andrew Jenkins got behind his defender and his shot deflected off of Max Kent and past the diving Elder into the goal.
No game could have kept up that torrid pace, and this one was no different.
With such a big lead, Minneapolis City were content to let VSLT have the ball in front of them and counter when they won it. The result was a half of fewer chances as the Crows defense comfortably soaked up the pressure and they were more considered in picking their opportunities to bomb forward.
There was still plenty of action, though.
Substitutions came in from both sides and they made an impact as, with 75 minutes gone, forward Josh DeLaRosa picked up a cheeky toe-poke nutmeg pass from Juan Louis and ran like Forrest Gump past the entire VSLT defense, finishing with aplomb past the despairing goalkeeper.
The 5-1 scoreline was perhaps more lopsided than the overall run of play, but it was a deserved and clear victory for Minneapolis City, and another impressive statement win for the Crows in the North Conference.