At the end of the day, Sunday’s rivalry duel between Detroit City FC and AFC Ann Arbor was definitely a City vs Ann Arbor match. In the regular season. Unfortunately.
These two teams have come to dominate the NPSL Great Lakes Division, but the hard fact is that - while City dominates in terms of public perception, support, and all the business and social aspects surrounding a football club - it is Ann Arbor who have the upper hand on the field, much to the chagrin of the thousands of souls who consider the Rouge & Gold their home club. Tonight was no different, as Le Rouge struggled to create many chances against the visitors’ typically obdurate defensive block, falling 0-1 to a 54th-minute goal by Ann Arbor striker Chris Odhiambo.
“You’ve got to give credit to Ann Arbor,” DCFC manager Ben Pirmann said. “They’re a good defensive team, they’ve got good defensive players.
“They played very physically - the referee didn’t lose us that game at all, but the way he reffed it allowed them to play very physically, which wasn’t to our benefit.”
City created three shots within the six-yard box, but only one fell on target, and that one was not threatening. In contrast, Ann Arbor’s occasional forays forward yielded 12 shots, seven on goal. City’s ability to keep the ball was rendered empty by their inability to make much happen in the final third, as the Oak spoiled and snuffed and squibbled Le Rouge’s attacking play into a pre-shrunk parody of itself.
The game might have ended square but for a bit of direct attacking coherence from the visitors. Detroit City defender Jimmy Fiscus tried to clear an innocuous lumped ball to the Rouge midfield, but Ann Arbor’s aggressive positioning made the second ball theirs. A quick feed to AZ Liadi on the right wing had the visitors bursting forward, Odhiambo surging into a near-post run. Liadi waited for the markers to declare themselves, then slid the ball to Odhiambo, who blasted it near-post past a helpless Fernando Piña in the City goal for the only marker of the contest.
City responded with an air of desperation, clearly not sure how to make clean chances against the Ann Arbor defense, and the game would peter out without further footballing incident - although a series of chippy fouls near the end threatened to turn the contest into something darker, the turn never came. Once City succumbed, the small crowd of supporters in white seemed to take it as permission to make noise for the first time, razzing their more-notorious rivals for another grating loss. Northern Guard, loud as ever, seemed to bottle its rage, just waiting for the next time.
With the loss, Detroit City FC (3-1-2) falls to third in the NPSL Great Lakes Division, and needs to win the remainder of its games to be assured of NPSL playoff action. AFC Ann Arbor (6-2-0) is riding high atop the division, 7 points clear with five to play. Le Rouge travels to Milwaukee Friday evening, with kickoff slated for 8 p.m. City next plays at home a week from today, hosting Grand Rapids FC on Sunday, June 17. Kickoff for that match is set for 5 p.m. and tickets are available at http://tickets.detcityfc.com.
DETROIT CITY FC 0, AFC ANN ARBOR 1
Detroit City FC 0 0 - 0
AFC Ann Arbor 0 1 - 1
Goals: AFCAA - Odhiambo (Liadi) 54’.
Shots: DCFC 3, AFCAA 12.
Shots on goal: DCFC 1, AFCAA 7.
Fouls: DCFC 8, AFCAA 13.
Discipline: DCFC - Fiscus 59’. AFCAA - Montoya 57’.
Corner kicks: DCFC 6, AFCAA 1.
Detroit City FC (4-2-3-1): Pina; Bentley (Moyes 84’), Carroll (S. Harris 74’), Fiscus, Stephens (Barnes 66’); Centala, Edwardson (Amann 55’); Deakin, Garcia (Lawson 68’), Saydee; Rudel.
AFC Ann Arbor (4-3-3); Novotny; Cihan, Cawley, Okumu, Stapcinskas; Rylah (Caio 60’), Ybarra, Gamwanya (Watson 87’); Montoya (Lasinski 60’), Odhiambo (Breitmeyer 90+’), Liadi (Turnbull 82’).