The wait is finally over.
Detroit City FC took the field for the first time in 2014 to host Saginaw Valley State University for a friendly in Berkley, Mich. on Saturday in front of 1,499 fans. Though three players made their debut in Le Rouge kits, there were familiar faces guiding Le Rouge to a grinding 1-0 victory.
“It was good to get 19 guys there, seven or eight new guys to get out,” said head coachBen Pirmann. “Obviously the performance was very average and SVSU is a good team and they made us average, but it was good to be out there.”
DCFC struck first in the 20th minute off a goal from last season’s leading scorer and ex-SVSU forward, Zach Myers. Upon receiving a pass from Cyrus Saydee inside the 18-yard box, Myers spun off a defender and fired a shot into the top-left corner.
“There were some guys out there that I have played with, but it was fun,” Myers said. “Coach (Wasserman) probably won’t be happy with me when we talk after, but I had to do it. They played well, we played well. It was our first time out, so I think we were pretty pleased.”
A slew of chances from corner kicks helped Detroit City garner offensive momentum leading up to the goal, but back-and forth play from both sides characterized the latter part of the first half.
The Cardinals pieced together a quality build up just minutes following Myers’ strike, but first-year goalkeeper Jason Wise made a diving stop to push a shot just wide of the left post. Again, in the 35th minute, Wise jumped out to punch the ball away on a dangerous SVSU free-kick attempt. He finished the match with five saves.
The friendly gave Pirmann a chance to experiment with his new roster, and did so be giving his entire bench the chance to step on the pitch in the second half. High-profile returnees such as Kevin Taylor, Stefan St. Louis, Jon Evans and Tom Oatley pleased the crowd with several scoring chances, but to no avail.
In the 57th minute, Stefan St. Louis stepped into a shot from the top of the 18-yard box, but just missed the top corner. Moments later, a nifty through ball sprung him into the penalty area, and a shot from an awkward angle forced the ball to curl away from the goal. Oatley had a similar chance to St. Louis’, this time in the 79th minute, but pulled a shot well over the crossbar.
All evening, City’s relentless attack was showcased in front of a core of sound defenders. Josh Rogers and Ezekiel Harris anchored the defensive unit that stymied the few chances Saginaw Valley State garnered in the final third of the field. Newcomers Seb Harris and Ryan Thelen nicely filled in alongside the veterans with timely tackles.
“I thought Sebe Harris played 90 minutes at center back (and) fit in pretty well next to Josh,” Pirmann said. “I think the other guys in the second shift got used to each other quickly, so that’s a good sign of good players that you can get used to each other quickly.”
Added Pirmann: “I thought Ryan Thelen in the first group at left back was very good. He was probably the best new face.”
Throughout the remainder of the second half, DCFC’s possession-laden style helped keep pressure off the rest of its defensive corps until the final whistle.
With a friendly and a victory in the books, Le Rouge will rest up before taking part in training camp during the first weekend in May. Less than a week later, the boys in Rouge, both veterans and newcomers alike will ring in the official start to the 2014 season with a match against the Cincinnati Saints on May 10 at 1 PM.
“The Northern Guard, the Le Rouge Supporters have done a great job,” Pirmann said. “I don’t think (Kevin Taylor), Spencer (Thompson), and Latif (Alashe), and Cyrus (Saydee) are playing as much for me as they are for these fans and this city.”