This is the halfway point of the season. Well, expect for us and #TechnicalDifficultiesFC because they were able to cancel a game for no good reason, in violation of league rules, and not trigger a forfeit. Because of that, we still have a game in hand.
That aside, as we move through the second half of the season it is all very much to play for.
The Mighty Crows are in second place, just a point behind VSLT FC (but with that game in hand). #TechnicalDifficultiesFC and Duluth FC know that they need to start winning to have a chance at the playoffs, and Med City FC has turned around a rocky start to surge up the table—they host City tonight.F
Like the first meeting between there two teams, a lot hinges in the balance. They played out to a very even, and very entertaining 3-2 win for City, and it set the Crows on their way. A win again could do the same. At the same time, the Medics have finally clicked and gotten some very good results. They will know that they are still in the title hunt and they will know that only a win will do.
Fullback Aaron Olson was blunt. “We need to win. In a season with only 14 games and a tightly contested table, there is no room for error. We have had a good run so far, but we can’t rely on last game’s result to take care of us this weekend. The focus and intensity needs to remain locked in because Med City never plays easy.”
May has been extremely unkind to Minneapolis City.
Issac Friendt, injured in the game against Med City, remains out for at least another week. Ben Wexler and Branden McGarrity, injured in the game at Duluth, are long-term absences. Abdallah Bah picked up a muscle strain in the game against Aris, as did midfielder Ebesa Hamid.
Additionally, midfielders Shae Bottum and Tommy Katsiyiannis remain unavailable until they return to Minneapolis.
Whitney Browne is the lone, but critical, positive note. He suffered a muscle issue during his National Team of the Week performance against Dakota Fusion and has been able to play only as a substitute since then. But, after a dynamic 20 minutes against La Crosse on Wednesday, the fleet-footed winger should be back in action from the start on Saturday.
That is a long list of unavailable players, almost a full team, and it will certainly impact how the Crows play and what choices Adam Pribyl has to adjust to Med City.
Luckily, there is a strong U23 team to tap. Expect some players like Lionel Vang, Matt Murakami and Josh de la Rosa to feature.
Med City scouting report
This is a possession-oriented team that likes to use its pace on the flanks to create space in the middle for striker Claudio Repetto, whose positioning, ability in the air, and first touch make him an extreme threat.
Away losses to Minneapolis City and VSLT soured the start of the season for the Medics, but they have responded strongly. They have beaten Sioux Falls and #TechnicalDifficultiesFC and drawn Duluth and away at Dakota Fusion. They are unbeaten in their last four games. It leaves them on 11 points from 7 games, absolutely in striking distance of the top.
The Medics are strengthened by the return of Ignacio Miller from college. Since his return, since their opener against City in fact, the Medics have conceded only four goals. Their defense is joint best in the league with VSLT and Minneapolis City.
Without McGarrity up front, can City get past the Medics’ revitalized defense? That is the key question going into this game.
Keep tight at the back
Head coach Adam Pribyl laid it out: “The Med City game will be extremely tough.”
He continued, “Out of all of our competition this year, I am most impressed by Med City. They are organized and their players play hard. We have to continue our run of form, and play with confidence but with the GRIT that has gotten us to where we are.”
Despite Minneapolis City grabbing its first win on the road against VSLT, it’s a different proposition when the road trip isn’t to St Paul.
Pribyl concurred, “it *is* always difficult to go on the road. We are also dealing with quite a few injuries, and coming off our first mid-week game of the season since we had one cancelled due to technical difficulties.”
Critical for Pribyl is going to be squad management and, specifically for the game, staying tight at the back. Knowing that Med City has evolved over the early season into a very good defensive team means that the first goal is going to be critical. Get it, and City can pick off the Medics on the counter. Give it up, and City will have to break down a dogged defense while worrying about speedy wingers and Claudio Repetto.
“There are a lot of factors that as a coach it is my job to mitigate and ensure we put out the best product possible to secure points,” Pribyl concluded.