Only three games remain in the regular season and, while City are top of the table, the Crows’ lead is just a single point.
With the final two games against Duluth, just three points back in third, and Med City, a single point back in second, Saturday’s game in Sioux Falls is a must-win game.
So far this season, City have taken maximum points from teams except the top two. That has been the difference so far in a title race that is shaping up to resemble the Manchester City-Liverpool Premier League title race this past season–the margins are fine, the top clubs are manhandling their opposition, and, barring any surprises, the last two games of the season will determine the conference title and the two playoff places. Exciting times.
That said, it’s up to the Crows to make it happen.
Though Minneapolis City have never lost to Sioux Falls, it’s important to note that last season the Thunder were able to battle to a 2-2 draw against the Crows. Even earlier this season, though the game ended 2-0 in City’s favor, it was a closely fought match. Sioux Falls is not to be underestimated.
SIOUX FALLS SCOUTING REPORT
This is a team that has the capacity to get a result from any side in the conference.
Only a freak own goal was the difference when Duluth visited two weeks back. Then, last weekend, they went to Rochester and forced a creditable 2-2 draw against the then league leaders. This weekend, in Sioux Falls, it’s their chance to derail Minneapolis City.
The Thunder are not significantly different from years past. Brice Holliday headlines, Amadu Myers patrols the backline, and Nigel–everyone’s favorite–provides spark from midfield. They have had time to gel as a team, which has been critical, and have improved significantly at goalkeeper. In fact, their man between the sticks has to be in contention for goalkeeper of the year after a number of sterling displays this season that have kept opponents at bay.
CITY SCOUTING REPORT
Speaking of goalkeepers doing important work, City beat TwinStars in the Minneapolis Derby last weekend but it was a closer-run thing that they would have liked after a string of excellent saves from TwinStars’ goalkeeper stymied the Crows’ attack.
Injuries and absences have disrupted the Crows season, with Max Kent, Samuel Ruiz Plaza, Luke Haakenson, Tim Wills, Nick Hutton and Myles Norville all missing significant parts of the season. Hutton and Norville, at least, have been playing their way back to full strength and should be match fit this week.
The positive from the injuries is players who have had an opportunity to shine. Jonah Garcia hasn’t set a foot wrong all season. Zuheer Al Abase has been impressive as an attacking fullback. And Aidan O’Driscoll pulled the strings on Saturday from an attacking midfield position. We haven’t even gotten to U23 call-ups like Eli Goldman, Noah Senn, and Mike Riley. There is depth in this team.
Is there the desire?
A late draw away in Rochester, the grit to dig out the TwinStars result, and this club sitting at the top of the table in a season where no breaks have gone their way indicates that there is. They will need it on Saturday, with the prize that a win sets them up for two massive games to make or break the season.