In the freezing rain, Duluth FC stole a point with a goal in the last minute of stoppage time as they drew hosts Minneapolis City SC 1-1 in Minneapolis.
The visitors set the tone early, flying into a number of crunching challenges and otherwise keeping the referee busy. The physical nature of Duluth’s play meant for a choppy game as neither they nor Minneapolis City could find rhythm.
Still, a heavy tackle and direct ball forward to Duluth targetman Kyle Farrar created an early chance for Duluth. The ball was spread wide behind the fullback but City goalkeeper Peter Runquist was out quickly to smother.
At the other end, City were making inroads with their wingers. Will Kidd wriggled free and played a dangerous ball across the six-yard box that didn’t quite find someone on the end of it. On the other side, Issac Friendt was a threat with the ball at his feet but too often he ended up dumped on the ground as Duluth were happy to give up the free kick instead of facing Friendt in full flight.
As the first half ended a City corner was knocked back to Friendt at the top of the 18-yard box. He was, predictably, fouled. Martin Browne curled the ensuing free kick past the despairing dive of the goalkeeper to open the scoring. It was a stunning, curling strike into the side netting from 20 yards.
It was the first shot on goal for either team in this foul-littered match, and it was worth the wait.
The second half was as physical as the first, though City settled into more of a rhythm and were able to keep possession.
Duluth continued to snap into the tackle and, when they won the ball, play very direct. Given the wet conditions and the excellent hold-up play of Farrar, it served to carve the occasional chance and Runquist had to be alert as he just beat Farrar to a ball over the top from Duluth midfielder Tom Corcoran.
As with the first half, the litany of fouls disrupted the game. A studs up challenge on City midfielder Brian Kallman on the sideline made the referee reach for his pocket. Not long after, he was reaching for yellow again when AJ Albers was hauled down unsportingly. With nearly an hour gone, Friendt had to be subbed off with injury after being fouled for the 9th time.
Tempers were rising and yet it was a surprise to see Whitney Browne, of all people, sent off with 10 minutes to play after a fracas caused by yet another foul.
10-man City were not content to just see out the game and went close to scoring twice. Once when substitute Javi Alcantara dribbled into the box, but his square ball to Will Kidd was played just behind the onrushing forward and again when Alcantara sprayed the ball wide Kidd, but the wide man blazed over.
With time nearly gone, Kidd lost the ball near the halfway line. A lightning-quick counterattack from Duluth was enough for them to get the equalizer in dramatic fashion.