By Dom Bisogno/Duluth FC
Following a hard-fought 1-1 draw at home against Med City, Duluth headed to Minneapolis
needing to win to keep their chances of challenging the two clubs for the conference’s playoff
spots. With a lineup largely the same from the last two matches, Duluth took on a City side that
had won all four of their previous games.
The first half provided exciting moments for both sides, with both creating chances. The likes of
Dana Kowachek, Brooks Rice, James Westfield, and Carlyle Junior led an attack which came
inches away from taking the lead on several occasions, only for the strong keeping of Matt Elder
to prevent bliss.
The second marked key attacking substitutions for both sides, with Julio Neto coming on for
Duluth. It was City, however, who struck first, as Justin Oliver beat the Duluth defense with
strong control of the ball and a fantastic curving shot, the only one that would beat Sullivan
Lauderdale on the night.
Despite the score line giving no credit to Duluth’s strong work and good chances, the squad
pushed on, with more substitutes coming in over time. The BlueGreens equalized via James
Westfield in the 67 th minute. Westfield took the ball into the box before laying it off to Ronaldo
Fortune, who then lifted it brilliantly over two defenders. The ball landed kindly for Westfield,
who struck in his third goal of the season from an acute angle. At 1-1 and with over 20 minutes
to play, it was clear this was anyone’s game to win.
The breaking point, however, wouldn’t arrive until the 84 th minute, when Alberto Diaz scooped
up a loose ball from the Minneapolis City midfield and barreled downfield toward the City goal,
perhaps hoping to score his second of the season. Well-marked, Diaz instead tapped a stern pass
to Lucas Jacobs, who had subbed on earlier. Jacobs, on the far-right side of the 18-yard box at
the time, took two touches toward the center of the box. Evading multiple defenders, he rocketed
the ball up into the top left corner.
Jacobs’ strong performance off the bench and game-changing goal would earn him Man of the
Match honors. This was Jacobs’ first goal for the club after weeks of hard work and heavy
influence on the attack.
The final whistle would come not long after, confirming that Duluth would become the first club
since 2017 to beat City in a regular season NPSL match. Duluth had already previously beaten
City’s overall unbeaten streak in the NPSL playoffs in 2018, when they beat the Crows in the
Midwest Region semi-finals.
Four points away from City prior to the match, Duluth is now one point behind with a home
match against the Crows still in hand. Med City, in the meantime, are now in the lead with four
wins and a draw. Duluth and Med City are now the two only undefeated clubs for this season. It
will indeed be yet another tight race for the title this season in the NPSL North.
Photo Credit: Seth Steffenhagen/E Pluribus Loonum