2022 was always set to be a historic year for Detroit City FC as the club made the jump up to the USL Championship. A lot of talk about what to expect from Le Rouge in their maiden voyage at the second level of American Soccer was had online but as the season progressed and doubters were proved wrong, it was evident that 2022 would be a season to remember for the supporters, the players and the community around Detroit City Football Club.
MARCH (Record 1-1-1)
The first match of the season was a glimpse into how the team would play over the grueling 34-match USL Championship schedule and it wasn’t an easy start, on the road to the eventual USL Championship #1 overall seed, San Antonio FC. Despite the 1-0 loss, Detroit City FC showed the league that they were here to stay thanks to a gutsy performance on the road that was highlighted by a Nate Steinwascher penalty kick save in the first half of play.
The following week was a historic match for the club as it hosted its first ever home match in the USL Championship. On a rainy and cold Saturday afternoon at Keyworth Stadium, Le Rouge picked up all three points against a struggling Charleston Battery, with Antoine Hoppenot scoring the first goal of the season and giving Le Rouge their first victory.
Le Rouge would close out the month of March in yet another cold and rainy home match, this time against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The visitors would take the lead in the 18th minute thanks to a goal from Albert Dikwa but their early strike would be canceled out by a Maxi Rodriguez penalty kick in the 73rd minute to ensure the points were shared.
APRIL (Record 6-1-0)
The month of April was a busy one for Detroit City FC, including five league matches and two US Open Cup matches. Le Rouge won four out of their five league matches in the month of April, sharing the points with a visiting Memphis 901 FC on April 2. The club would also take part in its first ever match on a national ESPN channel as it defeated the Birmingham Legion at home by a score of 1-0 on ESPN Deportes.
The biggest story from the month was Detroit City FC’s US Open Cup victory against the visiting Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. The atmosphere in the air that evening on April 19 was something special as the D1 opponents came to town. US National Team forward Gyasi Zardes opened the scoring early in the first half with a penalty kick in the 7th minute of play but it was Le Rouge who was on top for a majority of the match. Then, an inspired second half performance from #21 Maxi Rodriguez flipped the script.
Rodriguez lept up to meet a perfectly executed cross from #29 Antoine Hoppenot to equalize the score at 1-1 in the 64th minute. Then, in the 84th minute, #12 Michael Bryant was fouled inside of the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. Rodriguez stepped up over the ball and played a perfect penalty which rang off of the post and trickled its way over the line to give Le Rouge the 2-1 lead. This would be the final scoreline and the team would proceed to the next round of the US Open Cup having bested an MLS side for the first time.
Trevor James would win the USL Championship’s Coach of the Month award for the month of April.
MAY (Record 2-3-1)
The month of May would begin on rocky footing as Le Rouge lost by a scoreline of 3-1 to FC Tulsa on the road. This was the first time that Detroit City FC had conceded more than two goals on the road under Trevor James since his tenure began in 2019.
May would also see Detroit City FC bow out of the 2022 US Open Cup in the Round of 32 to Eastern Conference foe Louisville City FC in penalty kicks after the score was deadlocked at 1-1 following 120 minutes of play.
Detroit City FC would go on to finish the month strong with a 4-2 win at home over Loudoun United FC, a gutsy 1-1 draw on the road to Miami FC which saw a late strike from the hosts equalize the match, and a 3-1 win over Atlanta United II at Keyworth Stadium on May 21.
JUNE (Record 0-2-2, over $50,000 raised for Prideraiser)
June saw Detroit City FC record their first ever winless month under head coach Trevor James as Le Rouge faced a tough slate of opponents. It began with a tough road trip to Pittsburgh where fortunes were the same as when these two sides met in late March – a second half strike from Maxi Rodriguez meant that the points were shared.
Detroit City FC would then host eventual US Open Cup finalists, Sacramento Republic FC, at Keyworth Stadium and drop the match by a score of 2-0. This was the first multiple goal loss at Keyworth in a league match in 1,455 days, when Detroit City lost by a scoreline of 2-0 to Grand Rapids FC on June 17, 2018.
June also saw Detroit City FC take the pitch yet again on the national stage when they welcomed El Paso Locomotive to town on June 18. This match was picked up by ESPN and played across the entire country on their flagship channel. Over 200,000 people tuned in to watch Detroit City FC and El Paso Locomotive play to a 1-1 draw in front of a sold out crowd at Keyworth. This was the first time at Keyworth that there was an announced sell-out in advance for a regular season match.
A preview of the club’s inaugural match in the USL Championship playoffs would end the month of June as they traveled to take on Memphis 901 FC on a hot and humid night in the Bluff City. Memphis would come out on top in this one by a score of 2-0 as Le Rouge never really got going.
JULY (Record 2-3-0)
July was certainly a better month than June was as it began with a bang, defeating the Las Vegas Lights on the road with a second half header from #11 Connor Rutz, his first goal of the season.
Le Rouge would carry this momentum into the week, drawing with Hartford Athletic by a score of 1-1 in a midweek contest at Keyworth before traveling to Indianapolis to take on Indy Eleven where, yet again, it was a Connor Rutz header that separated the two sides and gave Le Rouge all three points.
Detroit City FC then traveled to the struggling Monterey Bay FC of the Western Conference but found themselves unable to break down Monterey’s low-block and not much will be remembered about the 0-0 draw in the Golden State.
On July 23, Le Rouge hosted New Mexico United and scored two goals for the first time in a match since May 21 when they defeated Atlanta United II. Le Rouge went up 1-0 in the 25th minute, thanks to a Maxi Rodriguez penalty kick but that advantage was wiped out just five minutes later when the visitors equalized. Then, in the second half, #20 Deklan Wynne was found at the end of a beautiful passage of play to restore the one goal lead. This lead would last until the dying moments of stoppage time when the visitors equalized in 90+2’ through #7 Neco Brett.
AUGUST (Record 2-2-1)
August was a crucial month for Detroit City FC as the Push for the Playoffs was well and truly on as the standings in the Eastern Conference began to become clearer. It would start with a tough match on the road to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Despite brave defending from Detroit City FC, Tampa would find a goal in the 64th minute to take all three points.
Detroit City FC would then host the Oakland Roots of the Western Conference, a team that had been struggling for quite some time – and Le Rouge was in search of their first win at home since May 21. A crucial error from Detroit City FC’s #1 Nate Steinwascher would see the ball played to the visitors who quickly scored against the run of play to give themselves a 1-0 lead. Then, off of the bench and in the 87th minute, #9 Francis Atuahene was found through on goal by #29 Antoine Hoppenot and he made no mistake with the finish to level the match at 1-1, this would be the final scoreline. This match was also the charity match for the Special Olympics and the kits designed by Jon Hevron would be auctioned off on eBay following the conclusion of the match.
A tough midweek fixture on the road for Detroit City FC saw them travel south to take on the Birmingham Legion. This match was the first start in the USL Championship for #27 Yazeed Matthews who played well in his 57 minutes of action. Connor Rutz opened the scoring with a fantastic bicycle kick goal, his second for Detroit City FC. Similar to his first against New Amsterdam FC on September 11, 2021, Rutz’s strike would be featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays at #6.
Almost immediately after Rutz’s opening goal, the hosts would go up the other end and score a wonder goal of their own courtesy of #10 Prosper Kassim. Then, in the 82nd minute, #15 Matt Lewis would score his first goal in the USL Championship off of a corner to claim all three points for Detroit City FC.
The end of the month was a topsy-turvy one as Le Rouge lost 1-0 to Louisville City FC at home following a second half penalty kick and then would go on to win 3-0 away to the Charleston Battery courtesy of a brace from forward #19 Pato Botello Faz.
SEPTEMBER (Record 2-3-0)
September saw Detroit City FC pick up crucial points down the stretch in two very impressive wins over the Colorado Springs Switchbacks on the road by a score of 2-1 and a win at home against eventual USL Championship Eastern Conference finalists the Tampa Bay Rowdies by a score of 1-0. The win over the Rowdies would go on to clinch Le Rouge a spot in the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs presented by Hisense.
On the other hand, September saw Le Rouge drop crucial points in draws against Indy Eleven at home (0-0), the New York Red Bulls II on the road (0-0) and FC Tulsa at home (2-2) and the dreams of hosting a home playoff match began to slip away as those around them were turning draws and losses into wins.
When the final month of Le Rouge’s season began, there was still a chance of hosting a home playoff match due to results around the league leading to higher-ranking teams to drop points and things started off really well for Detroit City FC in the month of October.
An inspired performance out of Maxi Rodriguez on the road against Loudoun United FC saw him score three goals to earn Detroit City FC’s first hat-trick in the USL Championship as the final scoreline was 4-0 on a rainy and cold night near Washington D.C.
This match on the road would be the highlight of the month, though, as the Loudoun match would be Le Rouge’s last win of the season.
Le Rouge had a tough midweek fixture on the road to the Eastern Conference #1 seed Louisville City FC. Detroit City FC took the lead in the first half thanks to forward Antoine Hoppenot scoring against his former club but two quick-fire goals in the second half saw Louisville City FC win by a final score of 2-1.
Detroit City FC would then lose their regular season home finale by a score of 1-0 to the visiting The Miami FC, leading to The Miami FC leapfrog Le Rouge in the Eastern Conference standings and set up a playoff match for Detroit City FC on the road to the #2 seed, Memphis 901 FC.
In their first ever match in the USL Championship Playoffs, Detroit City FC found themselves against their former manager Ben Pirmann, a finalist for the USL Championship Coach of the Year alongside Trevor James. It was always going to be a tough matchup for Le Rouge, as both previous encounters this season had been.
Detroit City FC found themselves on the back foot for most of the first half as inspired defending out of the captain #5 Stephen Carroll was required at times to keep the score locked at 0-0. Saves from 2022 Black Arrow MVP Nate Steinwascher and defending from Micheal Bryant and #15 Matt Lewis helped as well.
In the second half of play, Le Rouge came out attacking on the front foot and controlled the second 45 minutes of play but it was Memphis who found the breakthrough. The hosts found themselves in a 2-on-1 situation and their #8 made no mistake and found the back of the net to give his side a 1-0 lead.
This lead would not last long as Yazeed Matthews would level the scoring at 1-1 just five minutes later. The score would remain unchanged as time clicked away but, in the 88th minute, Memphis would find the eventual game winning goal off of a free-kick set piece that confused the Le Rouge backline. Memphis would add a third goal with a shot from the midfield when Le Rouge had everyone forward in search of an equalizer.
2022 was no doubt a historic year for Detroit City FC, with three regular season pre-match sellouts, and 2023 is shaping up to be even bigger. To ensure your spot in Keyworth, visit https://tickets.detcityfc.com/ to purchase your season ticket to not miss out on the moments.
For more information about Detroit City FC, visit detcityfc.com.com and follow @DetroitCityFC on Twitter and Facebook and @detroitcityfootballclub on Instagram.