Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – All the cards were stacked against Detroit City FC as they traveled to Pittsburgh for the first round of the USL Championship playoffs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC was the #1 overall seed, winning the Players Shield for the best regular season record. Le Rouge snuck into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. Not many gave Detroit a chance in this match, but in front of a record crowd at Highmark Stadium, it would be Detroit City moving on in the playoffs with a 1-0 win.
The first half started right where last week’s match ended, with both teams splitting possession but nobody getting a shot on the net. Rhys Williams got the first opportunity for Detroit City in the 20th minute. A right-footed shot from outside the box gets close to being on target, but the shot misses just to the right.
As they did so many times down the stretch, the backline of Detroit City played a huge factor in the outcome of this game. Detroit would block two Pittsburgh opportunities in the box to keep the ball from reaching Nate Steinwascher to keep the clean sheet.
The teams went into the half with the game still 0-0. Pittsburgh would have the slightest advantage on possession at 51%, but in one of the more crucial stats, neither team had a shot on the net, and that would have to change for both teams in the second half.
A Daniel Rovira through ball in the 69th minute gave Pittsburgh the first real scoring opportunity of the second half. The ball landed at Edward Kizza’s feet. He got past a diving Steinwascher, but his shot on an open net went wide of the post.
Detroit was awarded a free-kick opportunity in the 78th minute from around 25 yards out from the net. The free kick from Connor Rutz got right to the center of the box and to Yazeed Matthews, whose shot was blocked and sent out of the box. The ball would land at the feet of DCFC Academy product Dominic Grasso, who shot it from around 22 yards out, and the ball would get past the Riverhounds keeper and into the back of the net.
This was Gasso’s first-ever professional goal.
Detroit, who had been the aggressor all game, finally had the result to show for it as they took a 1-0 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.
As expected, Pittsburgh ramped up the pressure in those final minutes to try and find an equalizer to at least push this game to extra time.
The fourth official signaled for five minutes of extra time, and Pittsburgh knew they had to go now, or they would be headed to the offseason much earlier than they expected.
In the third minute of stoppage time, an Albert Dikwa header tested Steinwascher as he had to dive to keep the ball from sneaking into the bottom corner of the net. The ball went out of play, giving Pittsburgh a corner and another opportunity to tie the match up.
The corner would lead to another corner for Pittsburgh, and on the second attempt, the ball was cleared out of the box, leading to valuable time being burned off the clock for Le Rouge.
Riverhounds would have one more opportunity in the dying seconds of the match, as Tola Showunmi crossed the ball into the box, landing perfectly at Juan Carlos Obregón Jr.’s head. Still, he couldn’t get the right amount of control on the ball, as it went just a bit too high and went right past Steinwascher’s fingertips and out of play.
The referee blew for full time, as Detroit City FC won their first-ever USL Championship playoff match dramatically. Pittsburgh’s incredible season was over, and Detroit would move on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Le Rouge will be traveling down to Louisville next week for that Eastern Conference Semifinal match. Louisville City FC defeated Memphis 901 FC on penalties and moved on to host Detroit next weekend.
For more information about Detroit City FC, visit detcityfc.com and follow @DetroitCityFC on Twitter and Facebook and @detroitcityfootballclub on Instagram.
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Primary Media Contact: Jarrett Maki
(Sports Information Director, Jarrett.Maki@detcityfc.com)