It was a tale of two halves for Minneapolis City in a back-and-forth game that left the Crows with an away point but thinking they could have had all three.
The first half was defined by Duluth’s command of possession as a new-look City midfield, assembled at the last minute because Max Stiegwardt had emergency leave, struggled for consistency.
Injuries and absences would define the game for Minneapolis City.
City were without a host of players, including midfielders Steigwardt, Shae Bottom, Tommy Katsiyiannis, neither Whitney Browne nor Branden McGarrity were fit to go the full 90, and Abdallah Bah and AJ Albers were also sidelined. Duluth were without forward Kyle Farrar and winger Ricardo Ramos.
Despite conceding possession to the home side, the Crows struck first. The move was started by Charlie Adams, the ball moved on by McGarrity who found a streaking Will Kidd through the middle. He held off the center backs to steer the ball into the back of the net.
The pattern continued through the first half, with City not looking especially flustered until a moment of impeccable close control from Duluth forward Garga Nyuah somehow receiving a ball through heavy traffic and slotted past James Neher to level the scores less than 10 minutes before halftime.
The second half started with more impetus from the visitors, and the accelerator was well and truly hit once Ben Wexler came on in the midfield. From that point, ownership of possession had swung firmly to City and they were carving chances as well.
Duluth responded by bringing on Sean Morgan, and he was able to create some chances on the counter, though both of his shots were fired well over.
Wexler seemed to give Martin Browne more freedom, and Browne found his range but his shooting was far too close to the goalkeeper.
Whitney, however, had the best chance of the second half. He blew past his defenders and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. His shot, arrowing to the bottom corner, was impressively turned away.
McGarrity limped off as time wore down and then a heavy challenge on Wexler forced the second half substitute off early. It was a disappointed early end to his game, as he was a real bright spot of creativity. His withdrawal impacted the game. The will was there–from both teams–but Wexler’s ability to find pockets of space and cue attacks was sorely missed in the final stages of the match.
The flurry of enforced changes caused the game to open up a bit as each team continued to go forward. However, aside from two City corners that seemed to have promise, neither side really tested the opposition goalkeeper in the final minutes.