Thursday, May 12, 2016

Louro comes up huge, City wins first ever U.S. Open Cup match

It was a night that everyone within the Detroit City FC organization will remember for a long, long time. 

Two years ago, when Detroit City FC lost to RWB Adria in penalty kicks during the 2014 rendition of the tournament, and after last years 3-0 loss to the Michigan Bucks in the U.S. Open Cup, there was anxiety, nervousness and pent up aggression when May 11, 2016 came around.

It's no secret that defeating the Michigan Bucks in USOC play was the immediate goal of owners, players and the coaching staff of Le Rouge; that fact was never played down. 

But on Wednesday night at Oakland University, the unthinkable happened. Detroit City FC held the Bucks scoreless through 120 minutes of play, which allowed goalkeeper Evan Louro to become to an instant DCFC legend by stopping two Bucks shots in the penalty kicks shootout. 

City had won its first ever U.S. Open Cup match in a shootout, edging the Bucks, 4-3.

As the Northern Guard, players, coaches, owners and employees of the Detroit club sormed the field, it had become clear to everyone involved that Detroit City FC had just defeated, arguably, the best amateur soccer club in the state of Michigan.

"It would have been more justified if we got one of those two or three chances in the run of play," DCFC coach Ben Pirmann said after the celebration. "Possession was one sided but chances were relatively even. 

Click for full match gallery
Click for full match gallery
"We had a game plan, they had a game plan so I think they kind of neutralized each other. 

"We deserve to advance."

Pirmann isn't wrong in his analysis of the game, either. 

The Bucks held a majority of the possession throughout the game, but it was clear that DCFC had come into the meeting anticipating that to be the case. 

Pirmann made a gutsy decision to play his backline quite high up the pitch, putting a lot of faith in his defense against very quick and talented Bucks forward and midfielders. 

But the call paid off. 

Despite being unable to hold on to possession of the ball in the first half of the meeting, DCFC came away with two golden opportunities that were thwarted by Bucks goalkeeper Andrew Shepard, including a Danny Deakin break away in the 39th minute that could have been a deciding factor. 

On the other side of the field, goalkeeper Evan Louro made a diving save against a chipped shot from Adam Najem that looked like it was going to open the scoring, tipping the ball on to the post and out of harms way. 

At halftime, the match was held scoreless on both ends of the field, and finished with both head coaches screaming at the fourth official for what seemed like missed calls throughout the first half.

Through the first 20 minutes of the second half, both teams game plans were still in place, but a primed set piece for Tommy Catalano that was sent over the goal was the turning point in which game plans were thrown out the window. 

When it became evident that the game was heading to extra time, game strategies were ditched and it became a case of 'who wants it more'. 

Extra time was an evenly matched affair, with both teams getting its fair share of chances in its respective attacking thirds, but the Bucks took a clear control of proceedings in the final seven minutes of the match. 

Garnering six corner kicks in that span of time, Louro and the DCFC contingent were able to fight off each attempt to keep the game, and hopes, alive. 

For the second time in three years, Detroit City FC was heading to a penalty kick shootout to decide its fate in the U.S. Open Cup. 

The Northern Guard never stopped cheering for its team through regular time and extra time, and barriers weren't going to stop them now. When the coin toss to determine who chose the net in which the shootout would took place was won by the Bucks, the net furthest away from the NGS was chosen, strategically. 

But that didn't stop the loyal, loud and determined Detroit City FC fanbase from following their boys to the other side of the pitch. 

Disregarding anyone in their way, the NGS made its way, in full, to the Michigan Bucks side of the field to continue its usual support of the club. 

First up in the penalty shootout was the Michigan Bucks' Tom Owens, who instantly gave DCFC an advantage by sailing his effort over the cross bar. 

Seb Harris calmly hammered his shot past Shepard, as Louro made a stop against Russel Cicerone in the second round. 

Jeff Adkins, facing his former team, fooled Shepard with a stutter-step, putting City up 2-0. 

Both Tyler Moorman and the Bucks' Adam Najem were able to score before things got tense. 

Bucks' Andre Landell brought the tally to 3-2, and Shepard kept things alive by saving Matt Nance's effort. Jordan Snell tied the shootout for the Bucks and Danny Deakin skied one over the bar putting the pressure on both Louro and Brett Nason to win the game. 

Louro cemented his name in Detroit City FC folklore by making a one handed, diving save that put the ball over the bar and opened the door for DCFC advancement into the second round. The 'keeper finished with 13 saves.

Brett Nason also etched his name into history by scoring the winning penalty, and winning the first round for Le Rouge. 

Scenes unfolded after the win, with everyone you can possibly think that is involved with Detroit City FC storming the field and celebrating with the team. 

"This goes from our owners, our GM, myself and my staff; we put in a lot of work and a lot of it goes to soccer but even more of it goes toward our community and for the city," Pirmann said after being lifted onto the shoulders of supporters. "They're great people, they treat people with respect, they do things the right way. 

"The amount that these players have put in is a lot. I've demanded a lot out of them, we've trained hard and we had a couple injuries from training too hard. 

"We get four spots for housing and we use those for players that buy in and want to die for this club. Danny [Deakin] and Ali [Al-Gashamy] were great today, hopefully Javi [Bautista] and Omar [Sinclair] can get back from injury; we need those guys moving forward."

Le Rouge now has a quick turnaround and will travel to Pontiac to face-off against a revamped Michigan Stars FC team in the clubs first NPSL match of the season. Two days later, DCFC will road trip down to Ohio for another NPSL match, this time against the Dayton Dynamo. 

But next Wednesday, the club faces a new challenge that it has never before come up against and will make the trek down to Louisville, Ky., to take on USL side Louisville City FC. 

But Pirmann has already been doing his research.

"They're [LCFC] a great team, I've actually watched them three or four times in their league play and they're good," he said. "They find pockets in the attack, they scored the most goals in the USL last year and then this year, they're already firing. 

"But we have to go in, and we have to keep believing that we can play with anybody on the field and just play as hard as we can."

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