MINNEAPOLIS — A first-half header from Matt Murakami plus a second-half strike from Loïc Mesanvi accounted for the evening’s scoring as Minneapolis City SC defeated Joy Athletic 2-0 at Edor Nelson Field. It was City’s first home victory over its cross-metro opponent and saw the Crows improve to 3-1-0 in the all-time series.
“What a performance. It looks like the City of old,” said NPSL head coach Marco Campoverde. “We controlled possession throughout the game. We were pretty clinical at the back, making sure they didn’t have any clear-cut opportunities. And we had our chances and took them.”
Being the first team to concede has plagued the Crows all summer. On Saturday evening, the Crows took the initiative at the onset. And in what was the start of a fine performance from Goats goalkeeper Carlos Loyo, the netminder was called upon to stop a trio of City attacks in the game’s opening 20 minutes.
In the 26th minute, Mesanvi was fouled by fullback Marco Corona Duran just beyond the corner of the 18-yard box. Aiden Cavanaugh, who was rostered by Joy during the 2021 season, curled the ensuing free kick onto the head of an unmarked Matt Murakami. The Crows’ defender redirected Cavanaugh’s cross from short range, leaving Loyo with no play on the ball.
It was the Murakami’s fourth goal this season, and third scored with his head.
The goal allowed the Crows to continue to steer the game and stay patient in possession, but the Goats were still able to advance the ball on the counter. At halftime, Campoverde tweaked City’s shape and flipped Mesanvi and Abdu Regassa, with the former moving out to the wing and the latter to striker.
“We knew that their outside back [Jakob Mohrlok] was on a caution, already, so we wanted to isolate Loïc on the wing. We know what he’s capable of one-v-one, and we have plenty of capable guys who can play multiple positions,” Campoverde said.
In the 64th minute, Mesanvi and Mohrlok were fighting for position on the ball, and the referee whistled Mesanvi for a foul. As the pair then disentangled themselves, Mesanvi gave Mohrlok a shove, which Mohrlok returned. Both were cautioned for their extracurricular, which earned Mohrlok an early trip to the locker room, having already been booked for dissent early in the first half.
“He was really frustrated at the start. The coaches told me to go at him and get the red, so that’s what I did,” Mesanvi said.
In the immediate aftermath, the Goats rallied and forced the Crows to defend from their own third. But the wave of energy from the visitors passed, and the hosts reestablished control of the game. Though creating a number of scoring chances, it would take until the 77th minute for the Crows to double their lead.
Second-half substitute and City original Abdallah Bah slipped a clever pass through traffic to Mesanvi. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, the 18-year old forward was able to turn, beat a pair of Joy defenders inside the 18-yard box, and lash the ball past Loyo to double Minneapolis’ lead.
“I haven’t scored in the a little bit,” Mesanvi noted. “I’ve been a little frustrated, so it feels really good to get a goal, again.”
Minneapolis would hold its two-goal lead through the final whistle, securing a win in its 2022 NPSL home finale.
“We want to win every game we play in and that will never change. With a large crowd, here, giving us tremendous support, we knew we had a little extra responsibility. And Joy always gives us a tough game,” Campoverde said.
The fixture, pitting two Twin Cities clubs against one another, always involves players who have known one another for years competing against each other. And where emotions on the field are high, for players like Cavanaugh, the outcome is not personal.
“Whatever happens, happens,” said Cavanaugh with a light laugh. “We’re not going to be beefing after the game. Everything’s fine.
“Getting a win was really important. This season we kind of under-performed our expectations in both leagues. To have a good turnout in the last NPSL home game of the year, and to get a good win — a solid win — feels good.
“We went out and executed our game plan to go out there, play fast, play simple, play clean and stick together. There’s not much else to it. That’s all you can really do.”