Down a man and away from home, Detroit City FC proved one thing on Sunday afternoon: Never count them out.
After a Seb Harris (Oakland) red card in the 27th minute, City fought back with goals from captain Josh Rogers (Michigan State) before halftime and a late equalizer from Alex Isaevski (Saginaw Valley State) to ensure a 2-2 draw against Minnesota United FC Reserves.
City found themselves down one goal early in the 17th minute, when a United build-up led to a quick give-and-go that was threaded through City's backline and placed calmly past Alex Bouillennec (Saginaw Valley State) by Brad Whitsitt.
Just ten minutes later, Detroit also found themselves down one man after Harris picked up a straight red card for shoving a United forward to the ground in an attempt to shield the player from the ball.
But even after Harris' red card, City looked composed and confident on both sides of the turf, creating space and never forcing through-balls on offense and staying compact and in position on defense.
The breakthrough came just before the halftime whistle, when a ball played into Tyler Channell (Saginaw Valley State) found the forward alone up top. As Channell held the ball in United's box and waited for reinforcement, he was taken out by United goalkeeper Adam Acosta, giving the referee no choice but to signal for a City penalty kick.
Rogers stepped up to take the kick and placed it firmly to the left of the goalkeeper who was diving to his right, cutting the score to 1-1 at halftime. The goal was Rogers' second of the season and his sixth overall.
Detroit maintained its structure to start the second half, Despite great service from Cyrus Saydee (Michigan State) on a short series of free kicks inside United's half, City couldn't make anything of it.
In the 69th minute, a ball played over the top to Minnesota's Geison Moura exploited City's high line and found the head of Moura, who redirected it past the outstretched Bouillennec to give United a 2-1 lead.
But each time United put itself in the drivers' seat, City was there to answer.
In the 79th minute, a great ball played into Minnesota's 18-yard box by Saydee found Isaevski – who so often pushes forward from outside back to contribute on the attack – waiting in the box. Isaevski rose above United's defenders and directed his header to the lower left corner, out of the reach of the United goalkeeper, to level the score at 2-2. The goal was the defender's first for City in his two seasons with the club, earning him M1 Imaging Center Man of the Match honors.
Despite short-range chances from Latif Alashe (Michigan) and Dave Edwardson (Heddon FC, Eng.) in the dying moments of the match, the 2-2 score would stand until the final whistle blew.
The match marked the halfway point for Detroit in its 2015 NPSL season. With just six matches left, it's crucial City doesn't drop points in hopes of making its first playoff appearance since 2013. And Sunday's gritty performance for the Boys in Rouge was a step in the right direction.
Detroit City FC returns home this Wednesday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. in a midweek friendly matchup against the Columbus Crew College Program before traveling to take on the Cincinnati Saints on Saturday, June 20 at 7 p.m.
Tickets to every DCFC home match can be purchased at detcityfc.com/tickets.