A never-say-die Minneapolis City SC turned on the class to beat Sioux Falls Thunder 3-1 despite playing a man down for 45 minutes.
On a beautiful night in Minneapolis, both teams looked to keep the ball on the deck and play good soccer and in the early exchanges it was all City as forward Brandon Bye, making his debut, looked comfortable in a front three with Will Kidd and Isaac Friendt. Despite having the overwhelming possession and chances, it was a clever counter-attack by Sioux Falls that drew first blood.
A long ball out of the back hit Brice Holiday who turned quickly and played in Michael Haight. The Thunder forward had found just enough space to sprint between fullback Charlie Adams and center back AJ Albers, take a touch, and slip the ball past the onrushing Matt Elder.
It took just seven minutes for Minneapolis City to respond.
Brandon Bye did well to hold up a clearance and find Ben Wexler, who had rushed up in support. Wexler had time to pick his pass and found Isaac “Goose” Friendt who had cut in from the right wing. Friendt gave a feint, shifted the ball to his left foot and let fly from 22 yards and into the net.
It was a full-speed start to the match and, while both teams had chances, the final highlight of the first half was when Albers was dismissed at the stroke of halftime. A second yellow card was awarded after a head-to-head challenge.
With only ten men, City started the second half but continued to boss possession and create chances.
The 51st minute brought about more excitement. Will Kidd had gone on a mazy run down the wing and fired a cross into the box only for the Thunder defender to get a foot in to block and knock the ball up, over the goalkeeper and into the goal. The ball hit the frame of the goal and bounced upwards and out.
City were unbowed.
Charlie Adams picked up a wayward ball and found Brandon Bye. The powerful forward did well to hold off his man, turn and run at him, holding his run just long enough to allow Will Kidd to catch up.
Bye dropped a shoulder and crossed at knee height for Kidd, showing incredible acceleration, to step in front of his defender and guide the ball into the net. A fantastic team goal and City were deservedly in front.
Sioux Falls looked to respond, using their man advantage to overload the wings but found a resilient City defense and a struggle to win the ball back after they lost it with substitute midfielders Dan O’Brien and Samuel Ruiz Plaza using the ball with intelligence and purpose.
It was from another disrupted attack that City scored their third. Aaron Olson had won the ball and played it to O’Brien. The ball pinged around a little bit before coming back out to Olson. The fullback took a touch before sending a slightly curling ball directly into the path of Bye, who had split the Thunder defense.
Bye took a touch and, calm as can be, slotted the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-1 to the home team.
While the Thunder continued to press and look for an equalizer, even hitting the post with an effort, it was a controlled second half for City on the way to an important three points.