July 29, 2016
MIDFIELD PRESS WEIGHS IN ON AMERICAN PREMIER LEAGUE!
Slowly but surely football, known as soccer in the USA, is becoming a popular sport in our country. This means many amateur leagues are popping up all over. Many of these leagues are hoping to one day go from amateur status to professional, just like Major League Soccer, the number one soccer division in the United States. The American Premier League (APL) is one of the amateur leagues in America. However, they are not like the rest. They want to bring a whole different meaning to the concept of a sports league.
APL is an Upper Midwest league that had its inaugural season in 2015. Now in 2016, the league is made up of five teams based in three states: Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Although the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) does not officially assign amateur leagues to a specific division, most fans and officials would rank the APL in the fifth division. The five teams that make up this league are Duluth FC, FC Fargo, FC Minneapolis, La Crosse Aris FC, and Minnesota TwinStars FC. Some of these teams also play in exhibition matches, meaning they play against other teams not in the league. APL is a regional league, and they plan to stay that way. They don’t believe in using a lot of their resources in traveling to other parts of the country when the money can be used to help develop the players. They also don’t plan to expand their league to more than 10 teams. Three more are set to join next season for a total of eight. By keeping the teams to a low number the league is able to focus on developing great players and in turn developing great soccer entertainment for their respective communities. Additionally, most of the clubs have some form of relationships supporting local organizations.
Advance and develop is what the league had in mind when starting up in 2015. As a sports league, they are a non-profit organization and all teams raises funds to operate on their own. Teams spend a couple of thousand dollars on each player hoping to help them develop for bigger and better things. Most of the players in the league are college students and they play as amateurs. Since the season runs from late April to early August, college athletes are able to stay in a competitive environment and learn things here they can take with them to college and beyond. Beyond is the ultimate goal of the APL. They hope to see their players reach their full potential and go to places such as MLS or other professional leagues. They are preparing them for the future.
Even though there are things that the league handles as a whole, other things such as advertisements, sponsorships, and supplier contracts are handled by each teams’ representatives. The league doesn’t have a YouTube channel that transmits all the games. It’s all up to each team to decide how viewers not in the area are going to be able to watch the games. On the teams’ official websites, one may find ways on how to watch the games. Some even have their own local TV channels that transmit their games, such as FC Minneapolis that has existed for many years and have found ways to make that happen. Other teams like Duluth FC, have their own live stream channel on ifan.tv., the national iFan Sports Network. Duluth FC also has their own independent supporters group who have named themselves “Zenith City Supporters” since Zenith City is one of the nicknames for the city. Deriving from their colors, FC Fargo also has a supporters group called “The Green Army” who are very passionate supporters. Slowly but surely the league is gaining a following of its own.
APL hopes to grow as a league, but not in the way many others do it. Developing its players is the top priority. Hopefully this league is able to to do just that and gain many, many followers on their way there.
By Melisa Castro
(About Melisa: From a small town in Southern California with a love for the beautiful sport known as soccer/futbol/football. Writes the previews and recaps for the NWSL.)
June 21, 2016
FC MINNEAPOLIS STUMBLES AGAIN TO A 0-4 LOSS TO THE TWINSTARS!
The City Lions looked every inch stronger against the TwinStars this past Sunday in the Twin Cities Derby of the American Premier League until the 24th minute when Solomon Ikechi made an own goal when he tried to clear the ball accidentally striking it against the opponents’ forward and bouncing in to the corner of the home team’s net to give the visitors a 0-1 lead in the first half.
Sendi tried to bring the game level by the 30th minute when he charged past the TwinStars’ defense striking from the eighteen yards mark only to be denied by the Stars’ keeper who punched it away to his defenders stopping the attack.
Varney Cole made some early changes removing his recent Ecuadorian signing Joffra Alcantara and bringing in Ochan Ochogi.
Towards the end of the half, Ian Sendi managed to find the net with a strong header that he converted from Zeus Htoo’s cross but the referee’s assistant called it off before the Ugandan could get to a celebration thus disappointing the cheering crowds.
In the second half, TwinStars Ethan scored beautifully before his counterpart Ziggy could make it 0-3.
Zeus Htoo, overpowered the defense, passing past the goal keeper and laying it for Ochan Ochogi who couldn’t convert and the referee called for a corner.
Abunanyi Lual and Solomo Ikechi both had good opportunities but the TwinStar’s goalie denied them consistently.
Hassan Jillo AJ, was removed for CJ Moses when he suffered an ankle injury.
The TwinStars were able to find a fourth goal sealing their victory at Einer Anderson Stadium.
Sendi asked for a sub in the 80th minute after hurting his ankle in a 50-50 challenge and Benjamin Lee came in to cover him. He is expected to return to training tomorrow with the rest of the team as they prepare for their trip this Saturday to Saint Cloud.
“THIS WAS A GREAT GAME FOR ME AND FOR OUR TEAM. THE ATMOSPHERE WAS DIFFERENT. OUR FANS SHOWED UP LATE MAY BE DUE TO UNFAVORABLE WEATHER BUT WHEN THEY DID THEY ALL SUPPORTED US WITH A PASSION I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED PLAYING IN THIS COUNTRY AND I AM GLAD WE HAVE SUCH A STRONG FOLLOWING.” SAID IAN SENDI.
“WE HAVE NOT HAD A FAVORABLE SEASON. WE HAVE LOST AT HOME GAMES WE SHOULD HAVE WON BUT I AM SURE OUR PLAYERS AND COACHES ARE DOING ALL THEY CAN TO GET BACK ON TRACK BECAUSE WE HAVE A GREAT TEAM AND FOR THAT I AM SO THANKFUL TO OUR FANS FOR ALWAYS BELIEVING IN US,” STATED SENDI.
FC Minneapolis will be playing with Duluth FC on July 10th before traveling to North Dakota to play table leaders FC Fargo.
June 2, 2016
DULUTH’S BRIAN GRAND SCORES A STUNNER TO SET HIS SIDE TO A 2-2 DRAW AWAY AT THE TWINSTARS!
The Minnesota TwinStars FC secured a strong position as leaders on the APL table after only the first two matchdays of the season. Though well-contested, the TwinStars earned their league leading position with two wins over last year’s champions FC Minneapolis and La Crosse Aris FC. On Matchday 3 however, Duluth FC traveled to face the TwinStars on their home pitch. Duluth FC, wearing their all-white away kits, stood second to the hosts, but the visitors came highly energized from their hard-earned away win at FC Fargo.
The weather was questionable all morning but the skies smiled as the two teams took to the pitch. The match began strongly very early with both teams trying to settle into comfortable play. Both pushed into the attack early and good chances with great defense and excellent recoveries promised the more than 200 spectators an exciting evening. The ball moved fast across the pitch with both teams having good share of control, but the visitors were first to score in the 7th minute with a fine touch by Kyle Farrar #24 on a clinical assist by the tireless right wingman O’Neill-Sengbush #29. Duluth FC fans were definitely enthralled and everyone heard them!
The Duluthians had good control but the tables turned as they became slightly more confident than appropriate for an early first half goal. The TwinStars soon took the greater percentage of meaningful possession especially through the masterful work of Kareem Darbaki, who played a thoroughly disciplined traditional #10 role the entire match. The hosts frustrated the visitors with great passing and opportune runs in the attacking third and eventually they equalized in the 27th minute by way of forward Chase Wright #19, who ran skillfully at the defenseless goalkeeper Ben Wilhelm of Duluth FC. This equalizer definitely put the Bluegreens on their back heels and only a minute later the TwinStars’ Samuel Contreras #11 scored unassisted with an absolute stunner of a goal, a left-footed drive from approximately 20 yards out into the far upper corner. This is definitely an early contender for goal of the season as both TwinStars and Bluegreens fans applauded. The visitors started to work harder but half time arrived with the hosts taking the 2-1 lead to the locker rooms.
The second half began equally energetic as the first, but the Bluegreens pushed much more consistently to challenge for every ball. The TwinStars concentrated on a smooth passing style as they maintained their one goal lead most of the match. A few chances challenged both goalkeepers but nothing stretched either net. As time progressed the Bluegreens played with increasing urgency which paid off with the equalizer at the 77thminute when Kyle Farrar #24 assisted with a smooth back pass to Brian Grand #17 who found enough space at the top of the 18-yard box to slot a well-directed ball in the far low corner of the TwinStars’ net. The celebration of the Bluegreens and their fans jumped for joy. The hard work had paid off. Both teams continued to challenge each other for the next quarter hour but at the final whistle this match went down as the first draw of the APL 2016 Season.
Important to note is the presence and introduction of Minnesota Soccer Association President Matt Hawkins, who serves as APL Liaison to USSF/USASA and APL Referee Assignor Peter Mudima, both were introduced to the crowd before the second half whistle. The atmosphere was excellent with great camaraderie showed between the players and the fans, with the visitors able to boast a fairly large group of traveling supporters for their away match. The Zenith City Supporters from Duluth have kicked off the season well. After the traditional hand-shakes between the teams and officials, the TwinStars head-coach Youssef Darbaki initiated a group picture with both teams together. Hopefully this becomes a tradition. Perhaps this is the start of a great rivalry and friendship between the TwinStars and the many stars from up North.
Going into Matchday 4 both teams maintain the same position in the table: TwinStars FC at #1 and Duluth FC at #2, though the TwinStars have a comfortable lead of 3 points and a +4 goal differential. The TwinStars travel to face FC Fargo at Jim Gotta Stadium on June 4 at 7 pm and the Bluegreens have a weekend off and come Matchday 5 they will host La Crosse Aris FC on June 12 at 5 pm on their home pitch Denfeld Stadium.
May 14, 2016
NIGERIA’S SOLOMON IKECHI SCORES LATE AS FC MINNEAPOLIS LOSES 3:1 TO THE TWINSTARS.
FC Minneapolis today played with Minnesota Twin Stars at the Hopkins HS Stadium in the American Premier League opener.
This has been the Clubs first encounter and even though it was more inclined towards the Stars side in the first half, the City Lions came back strong in the second half balancing possession and managing to Score their only goal of the night before losing to their hosts.
“This was a great competition for the team. We all had chances to win but the TwinStars used theirs and that’s why they scored 3 and we scored just one. We face Dakota Fusion on Sunday and I believe then we will be more prepared to play with them,” said Ian Sendi after the game.
“The team is positive and our fans have confidence in us. I want to thank them for all the support they showed us in Hopkins today,” the Ugandan added.
Speaking to our website, Solomon Ikechi believes his goal was a team effort. “Everyone worked the ball well and in the end we saw a good game that we can build on to get better results in the future.”
“We have had a rough start but our squad is good. It may take sometime but eventually the boys will find their steel and I believe a greater season awaits,” said Varney Cole.
May 13, 2016
MINNEAPOLIS DERBY: MINNESOTA TWINSTARS FC VS FC MINNEAPOLIS
The American Premier League Champion will open the 2016 season with an away game hosted by the Minnesota TwinStars at Hopkins HS Stadium in a game that many have referred to as a “battle of the City“. FC Minneapolis comes in to tomorrow’s campaign after losing 7:0 to Minnesota United Reserves last Wednesday during the club’s previous preseason game that was played at the National Sports Center in Blaine but the City Lions believe that their recent perform will not hold them back from fighting to defend their title as league Champions.
“The TwinStars are a very strong and organized opponent. They have had tremendous success for years here in the Twin Cities and across the United States but we have put in the work and our boys will be ready to stand their ground come tomorrow’s game,” said Head Coach, Varney Cole after the club’s training session this evening in St Louis Park.
FC Minneapolis will be playing it’s first home game at Einer Anderson Stadium with Dakota Fusion on May 22 at 7:00pm and tickets are available on the club’s website.