Med City FC keeps knocking.
And for the third time in their three years as a National Premier Soccer League team, you can hear the Mayhem again.
Bang, bang, bang. They want in — into the NPSL playoffs.
So far, they’re 0-for-2, barely missing out in 2017 and ’18. But there’s another chance coming at 7 p.m. Friday at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. A win over league-leading Minneapolis City SC would do it.
The teams met earlier this season and ended in a 1-1 tie in Rochester after Minneapolis City SC scored in the final three minutes.
“This is the third year in a row we’ve been in this position (needing a win in the final game of the regular season to advance to the playoffs),” Med City FC General Manager Frank Spaeth said. “But it’s better to be needing a win now than being in the spot that four other teams in our league are in, having been out of the playoff running for a number of weeks.”
True enough. But it’s also true that the Mayhem could have made things much easier on themselves had they been able to come through this past Saturday.
A win over Minnesota TwinStars FC would have made Med City FC playoff bound with a week to go. The Mayhem seemed in prime position to do just that, playing at home against a team it had beaten 4-1 earlier this season.
But it didn’t happen. Instead, Med City FC did everything but win, putting one shot on goal after another only to be denied each time and ultimately losing 2-0. It was the Mayhem’s first loss this season. They have seven wins in NPSL games and three ties.
So, they are still fighting Duluth FC for the second of two playoffs spots. Minneapolis City SC has already secured one of them, while Duluth FC and Med City FC are virtually tied for the other. Duluth hosts two-win team La Crosse Aris FC on Friday to close its regular season.
If both Med City FC and Duluth FC win their finales, Med City advances.
“It was frustrating on Saturday,” Spaeth said. “We had dozens of good chances to score. Scoring had not been an issue for us this season. But (Minnesota TwinStars FC) got a couple of good goals, and then the pressure started to mount for us.”
The question now is, how much pressure are the playoff-starved Mayhem feeling? Friday will be do-or-die time and against the NPSL’s North Conference’s best.
It seems there is good news for Mayhem faithful on that front. Excitement — at least to this point — is overriding nerves for the Med City FC players.
“We are all pretty locked in,” said Med City FC midfielder Alan Schembri-Wismayer, a Lourdes and Macalester College graduate. “We trained (Tuesday) and everybody was fired up. Now, it’s just a matter of keeping that focus. We all know we have to win. We hope to use the fuel from losing our last game to keep us fired up.”
In taking on Minneapolis City SC, the Mayhem face a team that has outscored its opponents 30-10, while Med City FC has a slightly smaller 27-11 goal differential.
Mayhem second-year coach Neil Cassidy said that Minneapolis City SC is explosive.
“They take their chances,” Cassidy said. “Every chance (they get to score), they take them. We have to control the midfield. If we do that, we’ll control the game.”
NPLS playoffs begin July 16, with regional quarterfinal games. Semifinals are July 19 and finals July 21.
Minneapolis City SC and Duluth FC both reached the regional playoffs a year ago, with Duluth advancing all the way to nationals.