Minneapolis City defeated La Crosse Aris 5-0 to continue their solid start to the season, with three goals scored in the final twenty minutes to add gloss to a game that featured a lot of possession and pretty interplay but often lacked the edge of more competitive games.
The tenor of the night was set early, with the Crows bossing possession and looking to get the wide pair of Justin Oliver and Will Kidd connected with Whitney Browne, who led the line.
It worked early and often. Three minutes in, Kidd beat two men on the right and got to the byline. His cutback found Browne in space, but the shot was too close to the goalkeeper. Minutes later, good work down the other side played in Browne but the Aris goalkeeper was quick off of his line and did just enough to keep Browne’s shot out.
Aris showed a level of quality that shows real progression from last season and, while they were regularly pinned back, when they were able to win the ball made good use of it, especially in the center of the park. In two cases, their work was rewarded with corner kicks but Troy Louwagie showed good command of his box to pluck the ball out of the air each time.
Again and again City attacked, starting wide and cutting in. Whitney Browne was on the ball in the 23rd minute and cut in, looked up to see Will Kidd making a diagonal run, and then put his head down, took another touch to get space, and fired a powerful, curling effort inside the far post. A classy goal from the City forward.
From the City perspective, the remainder of the half was frustrating. Good chances were carved, but all too often the shot was right at the goalkeeper or the final ball or final touch was every so slightly off. The play was positive but the results just weren’t there. It was just 1-0 at the half.
It wasn’t to stay that way for long after the re-start.
Just three minutes after the re-start, Aris fouled Justin Oliver as he attacked on the dribble. The free kick was 32 yards out and even with the goalkeeper’s right post. Martin Browne, whose left foot has clearly been touched by something holy, Johan Cruyff’s sweat perhaps, stepped up to fire an Exocet missile of a free kick, all power and bend, into the top corner of the net. The home side were up 2-0 and on cruise control.
The Crows spent the half attacking with pace and passing with intent and creativity. When, in the 70th minute, Will Kidd burst into the box, leaving defenders trailing in his wake, he was taken down by a desperate lunge and the referee pointed to the spot. Max Stiegwardt sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 3-0.
A host of substitutions threatened to derail the game except one of those substitutions was Nick Hutton.
Hutton scored two goals in two minutes at the death to gild the victory as the Crows took maximum points once again.