They call it the Green Line Derby after the light rail line that connects Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Minneapolis City and VSLT FC met for the second installment of the derby with title hopes and playoffs positions on the line.
Minneapolis City remain on top of the conference, a spot that they won after defeating VSLT 5-1 in St. Paul, but the Sky Blues were very close–just five points back, but with a game in hand against last-place LC Aris FC.
VSLT were out of the blocks quickly, snapping and snarling and pressing with midfielder Boris Zaraguro seemingly everywhere. Their start stymied the Minneapolis City attack at first, but as the first half wore on the Crows began to find their feet. Nick Hutton on the wing was the main outlet, and it was from him that the first goal was created.
A very long throw found the head of forward Tim Wills at the back post. Wills leaped above his marker to head home, his bouncing header sneaking over the goal line before a despairing sliding clearance was able to stop it from going in.
It was 1-0 to City, and that goal seemed to buoy them.
VSLT, however, were far from out of the game.
Always dangerous from set pieces, Juan Fiz’s near-post header hit the crossbar and bounced out. Mark Boquin was unable to volley the rebound past Myles Norville, and after that scare City were able to see out the first half comfortably.
The second half was a spectacle.
VSLT needed at least a draw to remain in the playoffs hunt, but knew that realistically a win was going to be necessary to fight off the challenge of a resurgent Duluth. City for their part needed the win for the same reason.
The Sky Blues were again ferocious out of the blocks.
Once they were able to get the ball in the back of the net, but it was called back for offside. Another time, they were able to get the ball just about in the back of the net, an incisive breakaway and classy chip beating Matt Elder, but centerback Max Kent flew in like a soccer playing cross between Superman and The Flash to hook the ball off the line and out.
In the end, they would not be denied their equalizer. A driven corner kick was headed away but only as far as Domingues and his rifle volley struck Ian Smith on the line, but Smith was only able to divert the ball into his own net.
With 30 minutes to play, VSLT began to bunker down and play for the draw. They were still effectively countering, but were more interested in denying space and time on the ball to their opponent than attacking.
It gave the initiative to City, and they took it gleefully.
Time was running out quickly, however, and when Justin Oliver’s flicked shot was saved well with 10 minutes left it seemed like this would end in a stalemate.
Until Will Kidd was played a ball wide on the right. The winger held the ball up, waiting for support, feinted down the line to buy space and time to shift the ball onto his left foot and launch an inch-perfect cross into Juan Louis’ intelligent run.
Louis made no mistake, karate kicking the bouncing ball into the back of the net.
With that, it was 2-1 in the 86th minute. With mere minutes left, it was not enough time to create even another chance as City saw out time for another critical win.
Contributor: Minneapolis City SC
Photo Credit: Minneapolis City SC