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Duluth FC played the “Krul rule”

Duluth FC qualified for the semi-finals of the NPSL by beating Grand Rapids FC on penalty shoot-outs on 15 July. The remarkable part of it was the replacement of the Duluth goalie two minutes before the end of the extra-time. A trick which reminded one which happened almost exactly 4 years ago, on 5 July 2014, at the FIFA World Cup...

Alberto Ciroi, goalkeeper of Duluth FC

Among the moves you will remember for long as a football fan, the goalkeeper change in the 2014 FIFA World Cup quarter finals between The Netherlands and Costa Rica, right before the penalty shoot-outs definitely belongs to the top 5.

From this day on, both Louis Van Gaal (the coach) and the goalie (Tim Krul) became heroes in their country. Maybe this story inspired Joel Person, the coach of FC Duluth last week-end in an incredible NPSL quarter-finals game against Grand Rapids FC. Almost 4 years later by the day, he did use the same trick.

The match was pretty even in the first half, both goalkeepers - Jan Hoffelner and Noah Fazekas- managing a few great saves to keep a clean sheet.

But in the second half, the nets started to move. Duluth FC fired first, thanks to the center back Ryan Tyrer, before Brooks Rice made it 2-0 for the BlueGreens on a brilliant solo effort, scoring his fourth goal this season.

The game then seemed to be sealed for Duluth, ready to cruise to the semi-finals against Minneapolis City SC. That was without counting on the fighting spirit of Grand Rapids FC. Matthew Whelan brought a bit of hope at the 82’, before Kenny Howell managed to equalize at the 92’.

A goal which meant extra-time, during which none of the team could take any advantage. And here came the poker game of Joel Person, two minutes before the end of the game and the penalty shoot-outs: the Duluth head coach substituted his goalkeeper, introducing Alberto Ciroi on the pitch. The rest is history now, and after an incredible session of penalties where Ciroi saved two shots, Duluth could celebrate its new heroe and access the semi-finals which will take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan on July 20th against Minneapolis. We would not be surprised if in the meantime, a new middle name would appear on Ciroi shirt : “Krul”...