The second installment of the Minneapolis Derby was as action packed as the first, and with the same result: a win for Minneapolis City.
The match between City and suburban rivals MapleBrook TwinStars promised much. The first match-up of the season was a back-and-forth affair, all offense, that was won, 3-2 in the end, by Kevin Hoof’s headed goal. Both clubs have been scoring freely. And, like all derbies, local bragging rights generate extra intensity–and we have certainly seen a lot of intensity in the past.
Minneapolis City started brightly, their first foray forward seeing Abdallah Bah wriggle free down the left wing and find Will Kidd for an early chance. Bah’s cutback was just cutout, at full stretch, before Kidd could turn it home. Then, the ensuing corner was somehow scrambled clear, TwinStars defenders hurling themselves in front of shots to keep the ball out.
It was a sign of things to come. Throughout the game, both sides defended with quality, strength and in swarming numbers.
But the first 20 minutes were all City. Kidd and Bah on the wings were finding space, fed by the intelligent passing of Max Stiegwardt and Aidan O’Driscoll. It was the wingers again creating havoc, Bah’s deep cross finding Kidd but–somehow–Kidd’s header was clawed off the line.
The Crows were keeping the ball well and attacking well down both wings. With a quarter of an hour gone, Bah fed forward Whitney Browne in the box. Browne intelligently laid it off to Stiegwardt 18 yards out and Stiegwardt’s rasping drive was turned away at full stretch–a fingertip save of the highest quality.
Less than 10 minutes later it was another top drawer save from the TwinStars goalkeeper as kept out Whitney Browne’s low drive. Edor Nelson Field was rocking at this point and TwinStars were just barely holding on.
That doesn’t mean that it was all one-way traffic. TwinStars were defending in numbers and looking to counter quickly, something there were able to do once or twice as the half wore on. They had a good opportunity on 25 minutes, Garga Nyuah getting the ball at the 6 yard line and right in front of the goal, but Kevin Hoof tackled well and cleared the danger.
Yet again the TwinStars goalkeeper was called into action. Two saves in quick succession were followed by a shot that squirmed through his legs, but the pace had been taken out of the shot and he easily turned to claim.
Despite a first half that saw the Crows completely in charge, the final minutes were hairy for the home side. Kevin Hoof slipped and TwinStars were in, one-on-one with Matt Elder. When all looked lost, the TwinStars forward’s shot hit hard and low, the veteran goalkeeper showed extraordinary reflexes to get down and make the save. He was not about to be outdone by his counterpart in the other goal.
TwinStars kept their momentum going into the beginning of the second half as they began to get their wingers more involved, playing the ball wide and then looking for early crosses. A good chance opened the half, an early cross finding Nyuah in the box, but again Hoof calmly took care of the danger.
As the half wore on, O’Driscoll began to find more and more space between the lines. At his prompting, the City attack became more direct and pacy. He almost played in Whitney Browne on 56 minutes, with the TwinStars centerback making a vital, and difficult, tackle from behind to stop Browne. He was earning more than his fair share of free kicks too, his quality on the ball and ability to pull defenders to him not only opening space for the City attackers but gaining him extra attention from the TwinStars defense.
Substitutions on the hour mark added both attacking flair, with Eli Goldman coming on, and defensive steel, as Noah Senn also came on. Both players had began the year in the City U23’s and this was their debut at Edor Nelson Field.
The game had become more end-to-end, though the both defenses were dealing with dangerous attacks before they became shots on goal. Or, in the case of TwinStars, they carved two very good opportunities but in both cases their shots were off target.
Yet City were still attacking with focus and intent, and O’Driscoll was very much involved. He almost got on the end of a classic Stiegwardt diagonal, but the TwinStars goalie did well to intervene with his head well outside of his area, and the filthiest of moves beat two defenders and had O’Driscoll galloping in on goal before he was hacked down and won a free kick.
So it was no surprise that O’Driscoll created the goal. Out wide, he picked up the ball and drove into the box. A short pass went in to Goldman, central and about 8 yards out. Goldman one-timed it back to O’Driscoll and the last defender followed him, only for O’Driscoll to cut it back to Goldman. The first shot was stunningly blocked–all reaction and positioning from the goalkeeper–but the ball popped up well for Goldman to volley home and score his first ever goal for the Mighty Crows.
The last ten minutes saw City park the bus, bringing on Myles Norville as a fifth defender, and they comfortably, if nerve wracking-ly for the fans in the stadium, saw out the game to record a vital 1-0 win and do the double over their metro neighbors.