Thursday, May 19, 2016

Detroit City FC hold Louisville City FC goalless for 115 minutes, lose in shootout

Following a historic victory over the Michigan Bucks in the first round of the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Detroit City FC traveled six hours south to Kentucky, taking on USL league leaders, Louisville City FC, forcing the professional club through 120 minutes and a penalty shootout, losing 3-1. 

Louisville City FC is not only the league leaders in points for the USL, but also shares the 'goals for' title, averaging two goals a match in the third division of American soccer. 

Against Detroit City FC, it took the Kentucky club 115 minutes of gameplay to score a goal, and it came after a red card put Le Rouge down to ten men. 

"First and foremost, I am proud of my guys," DCFC coach Ben Pirmann said. "I tell them that, every time they wear that logo, that they are representing something special. And because of that I demand a lot out of them and today they backed that up. 

"They backed it up with their play. The travel, the injuries, playing our fourth game in nine days; our guys battled and worked their hearts out. That's all we ask for and I know for a fact that it makes this club proud."
Before the match started, Detroit City FC released the starting 11 lineup, surprising supporters once again with a fresh change at goalkeeper. 

Nate Steinwascher took the mantle previously held by Evan Louro, keeping the trend of strong goalkeeping going for Le Rouge. Steinwascher denied a penalty in the 99th minute as well as saving two penalties in the shootout and making 12 saves in regulation to give DCFC the best chance it could have on Wednesday evening. 

"Our goalkeeper situation has been really tough. If you asked me two months ago about it, I had it figured out," said Pirmann. "When we got word that Evan wasn't able to stay with us, I called Nate and asked him what he could do. 

"He's back, he's with us and he's first class. I think it showed tonight that he's passionate not only about what he does but also about this club.

"He's a very good goalkeeper, he has a great head on his shoulders; he's a great leader for guys like [Robbie] Beckwell and [Joe] Smith."

Possession and momentum was very obviously on the side of Lou City, with the official statistic stating that DCFC held only 10 percent of ball possession through the match. 

Lou City held a game plan of pressing onto the DCFC back line, and sending crosses into the box; but Seb Harris and Steinwascher thwarted that game plan through the entire first half. Harris cleared the ball inside of the 18 yard box umpteen times, keeping the match level. 

The hosts had its best of many chances in the 10th minute, when a corner found the head of a Lou City forward, sending the ball to the upper left hand corner but was cleared off of the line at the last second by Jeff Adkins. 

Le Rouge lacked chances on goal in the first half, an aspect of the game that changed in the second half. 

The game's physicality picked up as time ticked on and fouls started to pile up on both sides of the pitch. Pirmann was continuously in the ear of the fourth official and eventually turned his gripes toward the center referee. 

City had its best scoring chance of regulation in the 61st minute when a Le Rouge corner was deflected and fell at the feet of Harris, who let loose a blast on goal. The shot was batted wide of goal by LCFC 'keeper Scott Goodwin. 

Regulation finished level as Detroit City FC was heading into extra time during the USOC for the second time in a matter of a week. 

In the 98th minute, an erratic challenge from Omar Sinclair handed Louisville City FC a penalty kick, but the attempt was saved by Steinwascher with a diving save. 

The battle waged on until the 101st minute when a tackle handed Billy Stevens a straight red card, which sent Pirmann into a tirade on the sideline. Pirmann's argument with the match official resulted in his sending off, leaving assistant coaches to run the show. 

"I let my team down personally and I feel like we may have let some people down here," said Pirmann. "But their [Louisville City FC's] coach told me that we fared better than most USL clubs that play against them. 

"I said that if we weren't going to win then we were going to put on a show and I hope we did that. I appreciate the fans coming and I hope we rewarded them with our passion and our play," he said. "It's our team motto."

Three minutes after the double sending off, Harris came out of nowhere and put the ball past Goodwin, quieting the Louisville supporters and sending the DCFC bench into a celebratory frenzy. 

Another red card was then issued, this time to LCFC, leveling the playing ground as the two clubs fought through the last 10 minutes. 

But five minutes before the end of extra time, Louisville City FC were able to knot the game back up courtesy of Ilija Ilic, putting a thorn in the side of a cup upset for Le Rouge. 

The score stayed a one-a-piece, forcing a penalty kick shootout. Steinwascher fit in just fine with DCFC when it came to the shootout, saving two penalties to follow in the footsteps of Louro. Except the difference this time was that both Ali Al-Gashamy and Dave Edwardson missed their penalties, allowing LCFC to take home the win, squashing the upset. 

"Now that the last nine days are over, I wish that I would have done somethings different. Every years seems to have a different learning experience," said Pirmann. "We had it and we let ourselves down. 

"But theres nothing to complain about when it comes to work ethic and passion and doing exactly what the game plan does. It was right there, it's just unfortunate. These guys are devastated."

Detroit City FC has yet another quick turnaround, and will go again on Friday, but this time it will be at its new home in Keyworth Stadium against NPSL leaders AFC Ann Arbor that will be sure to have an exciting atmosphere.

Yet Pirmann isn't confident that the momentous occasion will result in an easy win. 

"The guys that played this last week can't even train let alone play this upcoming weekend, and I know Ann Arbor keeps tweeting 'Beat City' and that's their entire season," he said. "It's a historic home opener and they want to ruin it. 

"They [AFCAA] have a great coach and some good players, but our guys who don't play much have to get ready to play because three points is our minimum and that's all that matters.

"I encourage our fans to show up in roves and numbers to show us the utmost support because I know our guys want to give it back."

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