The First Five Years – Best Matches

(5a) May 7th, 2014 – Detroit City FC 2 RWB Adria 2 (RWB Adria wins 3-1 on penalties AET)
(5b) May 18th, 2016 – Louisville City FC 1 Detroit City FC 1 (Louisville wins 3-1 on penalties AET)

For the fifth best match in Detroit City history, I cheated and picked two that are similar to the point of being nearly identical. At the time, each marked a new high-water mark for City in the U.S. Open Cup – the first as the club’s debut in the competition, the second as its first 2nd-round foray.

In the first match, RWB Adria took the lead in the 7th minute and held it deep into the second half, making it seem as though they’d successfully suffocated the City attack. Tyler Arnone equalized in the 70th minute, though, and things really erupted just six minutes later:

Frustratingly, Adria equalized in stoppage time after a goalmouth scramble. In the ensuing extra period, the play devolved into a string of cheap shots and chippy challenges, and each team finished with 9 men on the field due to a mix of red cards and injuries. Although Adria took the penalty shootout 3-1, I’ll remember the match for its epic, high-stakes feel, and for its damp, chilly evening aesthetic which called to mind so many of the European night matches you see on TV and wonder how it feels to experience an atmosphere like that.

Video and photo by Michael Kitchen

The trip to Louisville City proved to be just as much of a fight to the bitter end. After the regulation 90 minutes finished 0-0, extra time was filled with heart-stopping moments. First came a Nate Steinwascher penalty save:

Then a Seb Harris header that made an improbable victory seem within reach:

And finally a Louisville City equalizer which brought everyone back down to earth.

The penalty shootout gave more hope in the form of a pair of saves from Steinwascher, but a couple City misses and a save from the Louisville keeper proved too much to overcome.

A loss, but an incredible match in its own right.

(4) May 15th, 2015 – Detroit City FC 3 AFC Cleveland 2

Just two days after a humbling 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Michigan Bucks in the U.S. Open Cup, Detroit City opened its 2015 regular season at home against Cleveland. It was the first meeting between the clubs since City’s 3-1 victory in the semifinal of the 2013 Great Lakes Playoffs.

After Colin McAtee gave City an early lead, the teams traded goals until Cleveland knotted the score at 2-2 just after halftime. With time waning and an underwhelming start to the season staring his team in the face, Seb Harris scored a signature header in the 88th minute and City held on for the win on opening night.

(3) June 28th, 2015 – Detroit City FC 1 Lansing United 0

When Lansing United came to Cass in 2015, they were flying high, having beaten Detroit City 3-1 earlier in the season and sitting in prime position for the #1 overall seed in the upcoming Midwest Playoffs.

The big-game atmosphere was palpable and the first half was as tense as any I can recall. Soccer is, of course, a team sport, but every now and then a certain player takes the game over and produces a moment of brilliance.

Every City supporter remembers that goal, but another dazzling moment came at the end of the first half.

With apologies to Evan Louro, that is the best save in club history, and it preserved the 1-0 lead which turned out to be the final score. The win propelled City into first place in the Midwest, and sent Lansing into a tailspin. They struggled to even score a goal in their final several matches and failed to make the playoffs.

(2) June 20th, 2015 – Cincinnati 1 Detroit City FC 3

I don’t know what it was about 2015. Sometimes events just conspire to make things dramatic, and sometimes those things come one after another after another. Fate played its part that year, but hard work and perseverance were equally important. The wins against Cleveland and Lansing were evidence of this, but no match epitomized the spirit of the 2015 team like the trip to Cincinnati.

After going down 1-0 early as seemed to be their modus operandi for the season, City was hit with a red card to Cyrus Saydee for reasons that I’m still trying to figure out. (Seriously, nobody saw anything, there’s no conclusive video record, it just sort of happened out of the blue).

Deep into the second half when it was starting to look like one of those matches where nothing goes right, Matt Ybarra pumped life back into Le Rouge with a screaming weak-footed volley into the upper 90.

A few minutes, Danny Dragoi set the house on fire.

I’m of course speaking figuratively, since concrete is not a suitable fuel for fire. The Cincinnati Fire Department apparently forgot this rule of combustion, however, and showed up to the stadium ready for action.

Dave Edwardson finished the Saints off with a stoppage time layup, definitively proving that 10 players are greater than 11.

(1) May 11th, 2016 – Michigan Bucks 0 Detroit City FC 0 (DCFC wins 4-3 on penalties AET)

As previously mentioned, the Michigan Bucks dominated Detroit City in the first matchup between the two teams, a 3-0 result in the 1st Round of the 2015 U.S. Open Cup. The animosity felt by City supporters toward Bucks owner Dan Duggan had only grown with each of his successive comments about bringing a professional club to Detroit, ostensibly in an attempt to cash in on City’s hard work and successes and usurp their market.

Whereas the Bucks had sliced apart a City that played too open and naively the year before, they ran into a more disciplined, defensively sound unit in 2016. The chances for both sides were few and far between, but the tension mounted as the Bucks gained more control and squeezed the City defense in the 2nd half, most memorably with a sequence of what seemed like 37 corners in a row. The goalkeeping of Evan Louro was brilliant, and it allowed City to escape regulation and extra time unscathed.

The penalty shootout was a nail-biting, nausea-inducing, bring-me-my-fainting-couch-type of affair. (Videos by Sam Schlenner)

A signature win, undoubtedly the biggest in club history.

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