Duluth Come Back to Claim Point against TwinStars

Duluth FC vs. Minnesota TwinStars
Duluth East High School | Duluth, MN
5.11.19 | Week 2

Current 2019 Records (W-L-T):
Duluth: 1-0-1; 0-0-0 at home/on the road
TwinStars: 0-0-0; 0-0-1 at home/on the road

Lineup: Ben-Tal, Diaz, Watt (C), Ciroi, Viader, Junior, Hill, Westfield, McIntosh, Starling, Proctor
Substitutions: Brooks Rice for Ian McIntosh, Ronaldo Fortune for Aidan Hill, Sullivan Lauderdale for Alberto Ciroi, Sean Morgan for Carlyle Junior, Dorian Barberio for Joe Watt, Liam Condone for Alberto Diaz

Goals:
’45 – Sikiru Kareem (TwinStars)
’55 – Own Goal (TwinStars)
’80 – Damiá Viader (Duluth)
’90 – Own Goal (Duluth)

Saturday night saw Duluth FC face a familiarly tough TwinStars side in an eventual 2-2 draw. The TwinStars struck first in the 45th minute after both sides found several chances but failed to capitalize. Sikiru Kareem made a dangerous run into the box before cutting back on his right foot and closing with a tight finish. Alberto Ciroi was forced into action on several occasions, while Ian McIntosh, James Westfield, and Joe Watt came close to making magic happen up front, only for good defending and timing to cut them off. Kareem’s strike would be the only one splitting the sides at half time.

Duluth rotated in several players over the beginning of the second half, including Ronaldo Fortune and Brooks Rice, who had arrived in Duluth the same day looking to build on his strong 2018 season with the club. Rice scored four goals for Duluth prior to 2019.

Despite this strong start and change of tactics, the TwinStars managed to grab another goal after forcing the Duluth defense into a tough moment following a set piece, resulting in an own goal.
As time went on and substitutions continued to seek out the solution, Duluth eventually was given a life line wen Damiá Viader, who was making his debut for the club, beat goalkeeper Ibrahim Toure to a loose ball and headed in his first ever DFC goal. The goal, which came in the 80th minute, provided Duluth with a return for roughly 25 minutes of endless pressure and attempts to get on the scoreboard.

With mere minutes remaining, it looked like the BlueGreens might not get their comeback. That changed however, when Ronaldo Fortune’s 93rd minute cross from the corner of the box met the boot of a nearby defender. Fortune’s striker hit with too much force to be shut down and deflected into the TwinStars after smashing into the underside of the crossbar.

There would not be time for a third goal for either side, but the match reflected a strong showing by both sides, with the BlueGreens happy to secure a point after a problematic first hour.

The dramatic match was not unlike the last two meetings between Duluth and the TwinStars, whose two 2018 matches ended in a 3-3 draw and a 3-2 Duluth win. Both matches also featured late deciders, with Dana Kowachek equalizing for Duluth last minute in Minnetonka and Gonnie Ben-Tal scoring a late winner for Duluth. Only two weeks into the season, it is not clear how the draw will affect either club’s season, though it is clear that when these two meet, goals happen.

The match also provided the Duluth squad and staff a welcome reunion, as Ivan Adika featured for the TwinStars, subbing on in the second half. Adika previously played for Duluth in 2017 and 2018, during which he helped the club to both of its titles.

In addition to Viader’s goal-scoring debut, both James Westfield and George Proctor played their first league games for Duluth FC after featuring in the U.S. Open Cup the previous Wednesday.