Union Earn First Win at Rock Bowl

Dubuque, IA - On what turned out to be a beautiful evening after the forecast threatened to spoil the party, a crowd of 148 saw Union Dubuque F.C. earn their first win at Rock Bowl Stadium in a come-from-behind effort over Minneapolis City SC.

As the sun beamed down on the pitch, Minneapolis City opened the scoring just over half an hour into the game, converting from a quick counter-attack that left Union short on defenders. Union goalkeeper Nathan Wisbey was left helpless as the move culminated in a low, driven pass across his goal which was tapped in at the back post.

The Crows’ goal would be far from the last action of the match though, as the Dubuque eleven sought to reestablish parity right away. It wouldn’t be until the second half, however, that Union would exert their will on the visitors.

Just five minutes into the second half, a Minneapolis City defender cleared the ball to midfield, only to be well controlled by Keegan Schmidt just inside the visitors’ half of the field. Schmidt found Alejandro Cosmopolis on the volley, who turned and played a bouncing pass to Pablo Martinez. Martinez spun his defender well and unleashed a shot off the bounce from 23 yards which looped over Ben Schliemann and into the top the Minneapolis City goal.

Now carrying the momentum, Union sought to add to their pressure, but it would come at a cost. In the 54th minute, Minneapolis City broke the Union press and sent Connor Nelson through on the Union goal from 45 yards out. Emiliano Gomez charged down the field to catch up to Nelson and made a tackle just outside the Union penalty area. Gomez’s effort was ruled by the referee to be denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, and Gomez was shown a red card, thus reducing Union Dubuque to 10 men for the remaining 40 minutes of the match. To deem the incident controversial would be fitting, as video replay of the event suggests Gomez made contact with neither the ball nor Nelson, who takes several strides before falling the ground. The resulting free kick from 20 yards was blocked by the Union wall and resolved without further threat to Wisbey’s goal.

Now with an immense task ahead of them, the remaining ten of Union Dubuque ratcheted up the pressure on Minneapolis City and were rewarded with the winning goal in the 60th minute. A throw in deep on the left flank was well controlled by Josh Kutzke, who demonstrated great strength and skill to shrug off the City defender, slip past another, and find Cosmopolis with a pass inside the penalty area. Cosmo then touched past two defenders and blasted the ball past Schliemann’s near post to give Union the lead.

Protecting the lead would prove a much more active process than one might think. Recent mentality coaching from Pamela Mumm inspired the Union squad to show their dominance and kill the game off. Watching the events after the second goal, one might be led to believe that it was the visitors playing a man down due to the intensity and control of the Dubuquers’ play. For the remainder of the match, it looked like Union would add a third, which they did in the closing moments of the game. A free kick for Minneapolis City deep in their own half was taken quickly by Schliemann, whose pass across his own box was smartly intercepted by Tigrio Huerta for Union Dubuque, who was able to pass into an open net virtually the last kick of the match to seal the 3-1 victory for Union.

Reflecting on the match, Union manager Jon Denham said to Non-League America “What a game. It was a ton of fun. Every coach has been part of a match where you go down a man, and you never really know how they’re going to manage that. With the guys we had tonight, I couldn’t be more proud of they responded.”

Union next travel to Milwaukee Bavarian SC on June 2nd before welcoming the Bavarians back to the Rock Bowl on June 9th.

Check out Highlights from the match here:

Cliff Conrad