Detroit City FC had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Grand Rapids FC, Friday night. A breathless finish saw the Boys in Rouge come within inches of a winning goal deep into stoppage time. Despite a weather delay of an hour-plus, a majority of the 6,807 drenched City supporters stuck around for the duration, spurring our team on from the terraces of historic Keyworth Stadium.
The final 10 minutes of this contest were complete pandemonium. DCFC, continually pushing for an equalizing goal, were being frustrated by a sound defensive strategy employed by Grand Rapids that was emboldened by the visitors having struck first. That is, until the late breakthrough in the 88th minute.
Max Todd, so many times this season the hero via his goal scoring, played the distributor this time. With space on the left flank, Todd lofted a ball in toward the back post. The inch-perfect pass nestled right in between two defenders to find Shawn Lawson, who got enough on it to direct it past a helpless keeper.
It seemed Le Rouge were finally able to relax at that point, having earned at least the one point needed to remain tied atop the table. Two minutes later, Abdoulaye Diop went down inside the penalty area, but there was no call. A minute after that, Grand Rapids nearly nicked the game-winner for themselves. Jack McCarren rang one off the woodwork, it came back off keeper Hunter Morse, and somehow stayed out of the City goal. One more minute, and Grand Rapids were down to 10 men with Jake Vanderlaan being shown a straight red.
The final, most thrilling act came in what had to have been the sixth minute of stoppage time. Danny Deakin found himself with more land than most farmers, and though he got into a good position to let go a shot, Grand Rapids keeper Joe White came out to challenge him and was up to the task, making a crucial, game-salvaging save.
Though the remarkable clean sheet streak was ended at nine, Le Rouge are now unbeaten over their past 10 games (7-0-3) and 8-1-3 in the league. City are tied for the lead in the Great Lakes Division, with everything to play for Sunday against co-leaders AFC Ann Arbor.
Judgment Weekend began tensely, as expected. Grand Rapids came into this match with a concrete game plan and executed it to near perfection. Le Rouge held most of the possession, but the visitors’ compact defensive shell made for narrow passing lanes. It was the first time in weeks we’ve seen the attack-minded Boys in Rouge slowed down.
After only a couple of true offensive opportunities of their own, Grand Rapids found a goal from out of nothing. A lethal blend of luck and skill from TJ Ifaturoti allowed him to navigate past a couple City defenders and out into the open, where he looked up and spotted an open Eric Conerty. The pass slid his way, and Conerty buried the chance, 1-0 bad guys, 34th minute.
It looked for a while like it might stay that way. Yet still, with everything that had gone awry, the Boys in Rouge showed us once again that this year’s team has something special.
Man of the Match honors went to the goal-scorer, Lawson, who’s worked his way into becoming one of the most well-rounded goal-getters at this level. Even when it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards, Lawson goes and makes it happen.
The Boys in Rouge go again Sunday, away to AFC Ann Arbor, with a playoff spot on the line. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. at Concordia University.
City return to Keyworth Wednesday, July 10, to host Liga BBVA MX’s newest club, FC Juárez, which recently acquired Lobos BUAP to secure a spot in Mexico’s top flight. FC Juárez finished runner-up in April’s Copa MX, losing 1-0 to Mexican giants, Club América. The friendly is part of DCFC’s International Series, presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions. Tickets for the match are $20 online. Come and get yours now.
Detroit City FC Starting XI: #0 Hunter Morse, #2 Kervin Kenton, #5 Stephen Carroll, #8 Bakie Goodman, #9 Shawn Lawson, #11 Max Todd, #14 Abdoulaye Diop, #15 Jalen Crisler, #17 Moussa Gueye (#12 Tendai Jirira, 65’), #27 Will Perkins (#10 Cyrus Saydee, 73’), #30 Danny Deakin
Goals: #9 Lawson, 88’ (from Todd)
Cards: #14 Diop, 53’ (Yellow)