Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 – Detroit City FC 2, RWB Adria 2 (3-1 Adria on penalties AET)
The last verse of our supporters’ anthem, Dirty Old Town begins :
I’m gonna make me a big sharp axe
Shining steel tempered in the fire
Things of value don’t come easy, and strength is developed through adversity. These are clichés, but there is truth in them. Detroit City’s introduction to the US Open Cup was supposed to be a warm-up to a 2nd round matchup that everyone wanted to see, but it turned out to be something else: a furnace.
What began as reminiscent of April’s preseason friendly turned into a battle and ended up as the greatest game in City’s short history. No other game I’ve seen had a greater combination of stakes, drama, twists & turns, and controversy. Over the course of 120 minutes (give or take several) – from the slow start to the comeback, the frantic finish, the complete breakdown into chaos, and the ending whimper – there were the depths of despair, and the heights of joy.
No goal has ever resulted in such an outburst of emotion as Kevin Taylor’s 77th minute tiebreaker.
When City scores against Cleveland or Buffalo, we cheer, but subconsciously we kind of expect it to happen. Like getting cake on your birthday, you know it’s coming, it’s just a matter of when. The reaction to Taylor’s goal felt different – more spontaneous, more ecstatic, more… like this.
The exact opposite was felt at the very end of regulation when Adria equalized via professional balloon-popper/chalkboard scraper Vlad Baciu. Add in the extra-time cheap shots, hard tackles, and questionable offside calls, and you’ve basically experienced the full range of human emotions in one 3-hour span.
The result was disappointing, but it should prove valuable in the long run. Playing in a high-pressure, chaotic environment, City battled to the very end, even playing at one point with 9 against 11. Last year, the first real adversity they faced didn’t come until the division final against Erie, a game in which they went down twice and weren’t able to come back. Now, with a strong test already under their belt, they can draw from its lessons moving forward.
Teams are made in games like these, games with heat and pressure. The axe has been forged in the fire, now it can be wielded.
–The newcomers fit right in. Tyler Arnone (#2) played on the wing and looked very good making attacking runs. William Mellors-Blair (#10) came on for Wade Allan at halftime and showed good speed and ball control. Striker depth issue solved? Ryan Thelen (#5) is a definite asset at left back, hopefully his injury isn’t too serious.
–Other standouts Zach Myers, Josh Rogers, and Cyrus Saydee all picked up right where they left off last July as the team’s best attacker, best defender, and best on-the-ball player. Bret Mollon also looked sharp when called upon.
–Ups and Downs The first 15 minutes were slow, but City was the far better team over the next 60 minutes. Both of Adria’s goals came from scrambles in the box rather than defensive breakdowns. On the downside, there were too many giveaways in midfield – some were due to the hard field causing the ball to bounce, but some passes were just in the direction of nobody. A few of the giveaways in the last 5-10 minutes of regulation were especially costly – rather than going for goal #3, a better effort could’ve been made to keep the ball in the corner and win some throw-ins, which may have killed the game off.
–Officiating Not much to add to what has already been said. Was it bad? Yes. Was it really bad? Probably. A few more yellow cards in the first half may have kept the game from falling apart toward the end, but I thought the worst calls of the night came from the linesmen. One or two borderline offside calls are forgivable, but when you’re closing in on double digits, there is an issue. My favorite moment was when the closest linesman incorrectly called a throw-in one way but was overruled by the referee from a good 40 yards away. Allow me to make a suggestion.
–Adria was surprisingly good. I have to admit I was expecting a more… amateur-looking team. Credit to them for hanging around, especially when they went down and had all the momentum against them. They play in a lower division but are easily better than several of the NPSL sides we’ve seen over the past two years.