Minneapolis City recovered from a ropey start to the game to record an accomplished, and vital, win over fellow conference title contenders Med City
in the NPSL National Game of the Week. The two sides are committed to attractive, passing soccer, and it was a feast for the neutral who was served a fast-paced, attacking game of soccer.
Med City burst out of the gate.
The Medics dominated possession and put the new-look 3-5-2 to the test, using their wingers to stretch the Minneapolis City defense.
With only 6 minutes gone, winger Midhat Mujic burst down the left flank and fired in a low cross. It couldn’t have been more perfectly placed behind the Crows’ backline but out of the reach of goalkeeper James Neher. Forward Claudio Repetto timed his run perfectly and side-footed into the roof of the net from 6 yards.
Minneapolis City head coach Adam Pribyl had called on the team to show grit, and their determination showed as they forced their way back into the game.
Wingers Whitney Browne and Isaac Friendt were finding their feet and starting to carve out chances, though neither were able to really challenge the goalkeeper.
Still, the momentum was with the Crows and their pressure paid off in the 25th minute. Forward Branden McGarrity, a hollow-point bullet of explosive power, brought down a long throw in the box, turned, and fired a shot into the back of the net. The goalkeeper got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out of the net.
The two sides had found their rhythm, with Med City pressing high and working the ball quickly from side-to-side across the back and Minneapolis City sitting deeper and looking to break, using quick interchanges in the middle to open space to spring their wingers. It was back-and-forth stuff, with both goalkeepers called into action to make good saves as the teams traded blow after blow.
As the half ticked down, Med City rattled the bar from a corner kick while McGarrity saw his missile of a shot well saved at the other end. It was 1-1 when the referee blew his whistle.
Minneapolis City started the second half on the front foot, but were dealt a blow when Friendt was scythed down by Mujic and had to come off. Forward Tim Wills came on as Pribyl reshuffled his deck.
It didn’t slow the Crows down, and McGarrity’s good movement bought him a yard of space to fire a volley from 30 yards into the corner of the net. It was a brilliant piece of improvisation, the NPSL version of Jimmy Hendrix playing the national anthem at Woodstock. The crowd were suitably enthusiastic.
Minneapolis had the lead. But not for long.
Just 5 minutes later, Med City were level. Wagner met an in-swinging corner to level the scores.
Momentum had shifted to the visitors, but they found Neher in no mood for hospitality. The momentum swung back the other way as these two sides, punch drunk heavyweights trading blows, gave no quarter.
In the 68th minute, Med City forward Neto wriggled free of Mark Heydt’s attention and watched in evident dismay as Neher, leaping like a startled cat, make a fantastic save, somehow clawing the ball from the bottom corner.
Just minutes later, countering from the ensuing corner, Whitney Browne bust past three defenders, dribbled wide and knocked in a dangerous, driven cross that could only be stopped by a handball. Tweet tweet! Penalty called.
Martin Browne, Whitney’s brother, stepped up to take it and he made no mistake, sending the goalkeeper to wrong way to take the lead.
Each team made substitutions, Med City to try and find the equalizer and Minneapolis City to ensure that there wasn’t one. The defense did their job, shutting down attacks, blocking shots, and keeping Med City honest by threatening on the counter. In fact, it was Minneapolis City fullback Aaron Olson who had the best chance of the last 10 minutes as he raced the length of the field to get one-on-one with the goalkeeper but his curling shot didn’t have enough on it to bother the back of the net.
That’s how it finished—3-2 to the home side, a valuable haul of points for Minneapolis City.