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Up North: Rushed Travel No Problem for Duluth FC in Season Opener

Updated: May 08, 2019 11:08 PM

Prior to their game Sunday against Sioux Falls Thunder FC, most of the players on this year's Duluth FC roster had arrived to Duluth not even a week in advance - some just hours before their first match of the season.

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"There are players still missing and a couple that flew in just a few hours ago. We were still learning each other's names before the game. It was crazy," explained Duluth FC goalkeeper Alberto Ciroi.

That's the nature of the beast when it comes to the BlueGreens organization. It features a team made up of 26 players that play for 17 colleges and universities, represent 12 different countries who all come together for the summer to play soccer.

"Even though we have some language barriers, I truly believe that soccer is a universal language," added Ciroi.

"We have guys on the team at least one of them who barely speaks English, but that's the beauty of this organization. We make things work," said Duluth FC defender Gonnie Ben-Tal.

All that is required is their passion for playing on the pitch. It's why a player like Ronaldo Fortune who met his teammates for the first time in the locker room before the game was able to get the BlueGreens the start they needed to earn a 2-0 victory in their season opener.

"I think we showed flashes today that we can be a special team this year," said Duluth FC head coach Joel Person. "In spurts today, we showed better possession of the ball than we did all last year."

Coming off back-to-back National Premiere Soccer League (NPSL) seasons that brought in silverware, the BlueGreens are no longer looked as the underdog heading into their third season in the league. Instead, the club looks to defend their regional title, make another run in the national tournament, and continue growing the beautiful game in a beautiful city.

"It's so cool that we get to create this environment here with the help of Tim Sas (General Manager of Duluth FC) and the help of other people in Duluth FC to help create an environment that embraces diversity and embraces people from different places.

Duluth FC visited Des Moines for the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The match was tied at 1 after two overtimes. Penalty kicks decided it and it was Des Moines advancing.

To see the box score, click here.

Click here for a look at the season schedule for Duluth FC.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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