Detroit City FC fell to Cleveland SC, 3-2 in penalties, in Sunday afternoon’s NPSL Midwest Region Final, bringing City's playoff run to a close. 4,568 supporters were at Keyworth Stadium to witness the heartbreaker.
City took a 2-0 lead into halftime and looked to be on their way to a title victory. Cleveland, however, buckled down and flipped the game on its head with two goals in eight minutes during the second half, leveling the score at two.
From there, the pace of the game took a noticeable turn. The visitors slowed things down, frustrating a DCFC attack that just couldn’t open the doors it needed to find a game-winner, despite generating plenty of opportunities.
In the 75th minute, a scuffle on the far side of the field resulted in two red cards being issued, one to each team. Cleveland’s Tom Beck and Detroit’s Will Perkins were sent off for their troubles.
At that point, Cleveland’s objective became unmistakable. Lacking the same bite that Le Rouge showed all afternoon, the visitors recognized their best shot at winning would be a penalty shootout. They executed that game plan and took advantage once they got it there.
One doesn’t have to search hard for bright spots though. City really did look the better, more positive team for a majority of the 120 minutes of play.
Detroit's goals came just ahead of the halftime break, off the feet of Shawn Lawson (of course) and Max Todd (also of course). In the 40th minute, Lawson pulled off a slick flick with the outside of his foot, a low, driven cross from Tendai Jirira providing the power needed to evade a diving save attempt, 1-0.
Then, in first-half stoppage time, Todd did the same thing he did Friday night, drawing a penalty and then converting it. His nifty backheel pass to Bakie Goodman opened some space, which Todd took while receiving a return ball from Goodman. Todd was then hauled down in the area to earn a kick from the spot. Sending the keeper the wrong way, Todd coolly slid it into the corner to make it 2-0.
Cleveland came out of halftime firing in a way they hadn’t been in the first half. Beck tallied first, in the 52nd minute. Antonio Manfut netted the equalizer in the 60th. And that’s where things held through the remainder of regulation and then 30 minutes of extra time.
Penalties did not yield the desired result, despite the fact that goalkeeper Hunter Morse made two stellar stops, including one incredible save with his right foot as he dove to his left. In the end, it wasn’t quite enough.
The Boys in Rouge go again Tuesday, August 6 when they host Windsor TFC. The annual friendly will kick off at 7:30 PM. Tickets for the match are $12 online. Come and get yours now.
Detroit City FC Starting XI: #0 Hunter Morse, #5 Stephen Carroll, #8 Bakie Goodman, #9 Shawn Lawson, #11 Max Todd, #12 Tendai Jirira (#10 Cyrus Saydee, 91’), #14 Abdoulaye Diop (#3 Michael Pimlott, 46’), #15 Jalen Crisler (#4 Seb Harris, 118’), #17 Moussa Gueye, #27 Will Perkins, #30 Danny Deakin
Goals: #9 Lawson, 40’ (from Jirira); #11 Todd, 45+’ (penalty)
Cards: #14 Diop, 26’ (Yellow); #12 Jirira, 51’ (Yellow); #27 Perkins, 75’ (Red)