VSLT forward Ayuk Tambe opened scoring in the 13th minute, but Minneapolis was able to pick up three points by scoring two goals after a red card issued to center back Raul Guzman reduced Trapos to 10 men. Trey Benhart and Will Kidd each tallied second-half goals to secure a come-from-behind victory for the Crows.
The victory brought City level with Trapos, with both teams having earned 13 points after eight games in the middle of a congested North Conference table.
Trapos opened the game in a 3-5-2 while City countered with a familiar 4-1-4-1.
It was VSLT that controlled the game’s opening minutes, and it was VSLT that drew first blood.
In the 13th minute, winger Elder Barrientos worked the ball from the left flank in to Tambe. From the edge of the penalty area, the forward was able to cut inside of his mark, create his own shot, and finish past goalkeeper Peter Runquist and inside the far post.
“It was just a great pass from Elder,” said Tambe. “I took two touches, took a shot, and luckily it went in.”
An additional pair of dangerous scoring chances were produced by VLST in the following 15 minutes, but Trapos was unable to convert either into a second goal.
In the 24th minute Mark Boquin switched the field with Barrientos again receiving the ball on the left flank. The winger laid the ball off to Edi Buro at the top of the 18-yard box, but the former Minnesota United midfielder’s shot skipped wide of the far post.
Three minutes later, Tambe was played in on goal from midfield. The forward elected to chip Runquist as the keeper charged off his line to close down the angle, but Tambe’s effort floated just over the crossbar.
VSLT would come to rue its near misses when an officiating decision changed the game in the 36th minute.
“We were totally dominant in the game. We were 1-0 up, no problems at all,” said VSLT’s captain, Juan Fiz. “I couldn’t tell if [Kidd] was offside or not. Raul [Guzman] touched the ball from the side, and the referee gave a free kick and a red card.”
Full back Charlie Adams had sent a longball in the direction of Kidd who had gotten in behind VSLT’s back line. Kidd chested the ball while turning up field, and a split second later, Guzman initiated contact and Kidd fell to ground. The contact was ruled to have come from behind, and the referee sent Guzman off for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
With City’s set-piece wizard Martin Browne, Jr. absent due to injury, Abdallah Bah was tasked with taking free kicks in his stead. The midfielder was unable to get the ball down after electing to go over Trapos’ five-man wall, and the Crows were up a man but still in search of their first goal.
VSLT made a pair of changes before the half; one tactical, one out of necessity. Buro departed due to injury, and forward Miguel Lopez Varela was taken off to allow Trapos to sub in a defender. Alejandro De La Mora joined Trapos’ back line, while Kapaw Htoo entered the midfield.
Sliding Boquin up to partner Tambe, VSLT opted to retain a two-man strike partnership and a three-man back line while shifting to a diamond midfield.
In spite of the man advantage, City was unable to win the battle of possession nor get on the scoreboard before the first half came to a close.
In a move that would later prove fortuitous, Minneapolis head coach Adam Pribyl opted to replace center forward Brandon Bye with Miles Stockman-Willis at halftime.
For the first 15 minutes of the second half, VSLT was able to stifle the Crows. Trapos’ aforementioned diamond midfield proved effective in controlling the center of the pitch, and City was inexplicably averse to attacking down the wings.
The Crows, unable to play through Trapos’ defense, would find their equalizer in the 60th minute via the first corner kick of the game.
Midfielder Dan O’Brien swung a driven ball into the fray in front of goal, finding the head of the 6-foot-3 Benhart. The center back powered the ball past Herrera from close range, leveling the scoreline at 1-1.
“Danno played a nice ball in, right in the middle, and I was there to put it away,” Benhart said.
Buoyed by the goal, Minneapolis began to assert itself over 10-man VSLT and looked increasingly likely to grab a go-ahead score as the game’s final 30 minutes wore on.
That goal came in the 70th minute from a nice bit of hold-up play from Stockman-Willis.
Retaining possession along the right edge of the penalty area, Stockman-Willis fended off pressure before squaring the ball into the box. Capping a well-timed run, Kidd arrived just in time to poke the ball past Herrera with his left big toe.
“It was a long, long one-two,” said Kidd. “I heard, ‘Play Miles through,’ and played [the ball] up field. Then I got the ball back. Slid, got a lucky touch on it, and put it through the keeper’s legs and in.”
VSLT’s travelling support produced a late chorus of “Viva los Trapos” in an attempt to rally their team, but City remained in control of the game until the final moments.
A free kick booted long into Minneapolis’ 18-yard box in the contest’s final moments was headed out, sent back in, and deflected off a player in a crowd before looping towards the penalty spot. Charging off his line, Runquist punched the ball clear before colliding with VSLT defender Matias Diaz Galeano.
A scuffle for the loose ball was won by VSLT, with Htoo then able to square himself for a shot on the edge of the area. It is difficult to say if Htoo’s line drive was headed inside or outside of the far post, but that question was rendered moot as Kidd found himself in the right place at the right time, and headed the ball away.
City dealt with the subsequent corner, and seconds later the referee brought the evenings proceedings to a close.
The win was just City’s second home victory in five attempts and kept the Crows in the hunt for the playoffs. For VSLT, the result was a disappointing one that snapped a two-game winning streak.
“The red card changed the game,” reflected Fiz. “This is soccer. That happens. The referees are human and make mistakes, but we did not deserve this result.”
“Winning 3-1 over Dakota and 4-1 over Duluth, everyone can see that we’re playing good soccer,” Fiz continued. “Eleven on eleven, we’re just as good as anyone.”
“I feel we were dominating the game. We controlled possession,” added Tambe. “The red card killed us. That was unlucky for us, but we have to focus now on the next game. We have three home games coming up.”
Meanwhile, City’s head coach, Pribyl, was in good spirits as his team bounced back from a midweek defeat to secure three points.
“I didn’t have to motivate them; I didn’t say much before the game. You experience a loss and the guys are hungry,” Pribyl noted. “The biggest thing is they had composure today. We went a goal down, and that kind of sucks, but we came back. I’m really proud of the guys.”
His team having been on the receiving end of three red cards this season, and having seen City’s last two opponents have players sent off, Pribyl offered a closing thought. “Frankly, I just want to go through a whole game without a red. Either way, I don’t care.”
“That’s a huge three points coming off the loss to TwinStars,” said Kidd. “It keeps the standings close.”
A version of this recap also appears on NPSL.com.
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