By Dominic José Bisogno/Duluth FC
Duluth FC returned home to Duluth and Public Schools Stadium to face Dakota Fusion FC following a three-game away run which saw the BlueGreens win once and lose twice. The return was one of two back-to-back home games for the BlueGreens before returning to the road and presented a chance to return to their winning ways as the race for the North Conference’s two playoff spots intensifies.
The match also marked a rematch of the two clubs three years after both made their debut in the U.S. Open Cup against one another in 2018, a match which Duluth won in part thanks to a goal from none other than current head coach Sean Morgan.
It would prove a strong return home for Duluth. An early brace for Sidney Warden, either the first goal coming in the first minute, gave Duluth a 2-0 lead by the 36th minute before Jacob Deffren added a third, with Duluth leading 3-0 at halftime. It would be Deffren’s first goal for the club, while Warden reached the eight-goal mark, furthering his lead in Duluth’s race for the 2021 Kyle Farrar Golden Boot. Warden has scored in all but one of his appearances for Duluth, with four braces in five matches.
The second half would see Dakota go down to 10 men following a red card, but still manage to push Duluth with several chances and a share of possession. While the visitors’ league record this season is not without issue, the Fusion were able to push Duluth’s defense to its limits at times in what proved to be far from a one-sided match in terms of effort. Duluth would have their share of chances too, with James Westfield looking as dangerous as ever on the wing, while Warden and later Gloire Lawara hunted for goals in the box.
The second half’s only goal, however, would come in the 90th minute via Micheal Devlin, who tapped in his first goal for the club after a series of deflections in the box. The final whistle would come soon after, ending the match at 4-0, giving goalkeeper Brendan Dally his first clean sheet of the season.
Tonight also marked a first start for Duluth’s own Keegan Chastey, who played the entire match and came inches away from scoring on his debut, but was stopped by a wonderful save on the line. Joined by the University of Wisconsin Superior’s Scott Wilson and Eric Watson, Chastey emphasized a fantastic night for locally-based talent.
Duluth’s Man of the Match on the night was Liam Condone. The center back, playing for Duluth FC for the second consecutive year, has proven a key starter for the BlueGreens and proved vital against the Fusion, both in his defensive duties and also through several key plays to aid counter attacks and build up play.
Tonight’s win, the BlueGreens’ second clean sheet of the year, leaves Duluth with nine points from five matches. They will play their next match, at home, on the 16th against Med City. They will then travel to Rochester to play Med City again on the 19th.
Photo Credit: John Law