Against Sioux Falls, Rochester scored three goals in 25 minutes, but earned a red before the first half was over, and another in stoppage time at the end of the second. They finished that match 3-1 before heading to Aris FC for a 3-2 win.
Dion Dozzell’s soft-spoken voice and quiet demeanor off the pitch belies an on-the-pitch aggression that led to him scoring four of those six goals.
“That’s my job, so I’m happy with that,” a reserved Dozzell said after the Sioux Falls match.
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But Med City seems to be racking up red cards as well as goals.
“Our guys, they’re trying to up their aggressiveness and physicality, and sometimes that’s a fine line to walk,” Med City head coach Luke Corey says. “We crossed it a couple times in the last few games.” Med City had earned another red in the game before Sioux Falls against Duluth FC. He adds, “But I like the attitude. The intention is there. This is part of the development and learning phase.”
Corey says the team just needs to learn how to control its aggression a little more and unleash it at the right moments, but without giving way to red card behaviors.
Each red card has come when emotions have been running high, with one red against Sioux Falls coming from a light, though late and intentional, kick out at an opposing player when play had stopped. Even a man down, Med City looked likelier to score during most of the second half, showing how ruthless the team can be with its attacking style of play.
Corey says that in addition to accruing fewer red cards, team rotation will prove to be key in winning the league.
“We have a very compact schedule and we need to keep guys fresh,” he says. “We have a 25-man roster, and all 25 guys can play and start every game. So it’s definitely a bonus for us to have that, and we’re going to utilize that to keep our guys fresh. As you can see, this league is going to come down to the last few games of the season. If we have fresh legs, that’s going to be an advantage to us.”
Med City has only lost one game this season, and sits at the top of the league table with 17 points. However, the Dakota Fusion — the only team to beat Med City this season — is at 15 and play the Rochester side Saturday on Med City’s turf. The next three teams below them are within touching distance at 13 points.
While rotation can be hard for players who want to play every minute and are in a rich vein of form like Dozzell, it’s hard to argue with the method when wins keep coming, and a slim lead at the top of the table as a new team.
“I was quite shocked of it to be fair,” Dozzell says of being in first place. “I just came here to be fit and now I’m competing. Loving it.”
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