July 29, 2017
NPSL Midwest Regional Playoff Final
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
Detroit City FC 3, AFC Ann Arbor 2
DCFC Jordan Tyler (Zach Bock) 35′
DCFC Omar Sinclair 45′
AFCAA Tendai Jirira 75′
AFCAA Alec Lasinski 81′
DCFC Tyrone Mondi (Bakie Goodman) 90+
Three pre-season friendlies.
Two international friendlies.
One mid-season friendly.
Fourteen NPSL regular season matches.
Two playoff matches.
And in all those matches, Detroit City FC had lost only two – both to AFC Ann Arbor.
The general feeling, from Fowling Warehouse to Keyworth Stadium, was not, ‘oh shit,’ but ‘hell ya!’ Supporters and the team were ready for them on July 7th, but the soccer gods rained down on Detroit, cooling the momentum so not to overheat the engine.
Tonight, we were coming in numbers.
The first half began with each team getting their chances while wrestling for control of the match. In the first quarter hour, Zach Bock had a chance off a corner kick. Later, Fernando Pina made a point-blank save, then another on the rebound. By the half hour mark, the play became chippy, AFC Ann Arbor applying its physical game.
Tyrone Mondi fouled just outside the box set up an opportunity for Omar Sinclair to work his magic from a free kick. However his attempt curled just off to the left of the goal.
In the 35th minute, Jordon Tyler made a run toward the goal, his shot forcing a corner kick. This set up City’s opening strike. Mondi crossed it to the far side, where Zach Bock sent it toward goal for Tyler to smack it past Ann Arbor’s keeper, T.J. Tomasso.
A handball by an Ann Arbor defender just outside their goal created another chance for a free kick in the final minute of the half. Up stepped Sinclair again, this time curling it to the right, leaving T.J. Tomasso’s feet planted to the ground, and providing City with a 2-0 lead.
The soccer gods orchestrated a mythic conclusion to the match. We felt good with the 2-0 lead. Then Ann Arbor made some changes at the 54th minute, which included bringing Alec Lasinski and Kwessi Allen onto the pitch. Lasinski played for City last season, scored City’s first goal at Keyworth, and the game-winner for Ann Arbor in the suspended match at Keyworth. Kwessi Allen was the player who ran into me in the completion of the suspended match, causing me to hit the pitch and break my wrist.
Allen didn’t last long. In the 66th minute, Allen went in with a malicious tackle on Bakie Goodman, earning him a straight red card. This seemed to cause City to take the foot off the gas pedal, and infuse Ann Arbor with energy, turning our 10>11 mantra against us. In the 75th minute, Tendai Jirira stripped a City defender and cut in from an angle to dirty the sheet. Then, six minutes later, Alec Lasinski was on the receiving end of a long ball from midfield, sending it past Pina to level the match with nine minutes plus stoppage time.
The final nine minutes and stoppage time would determine whether the game would extend by thirty minutes. The clock hit 90, the fourth official showed six minutes of added time, and about three minutes into it, Pina rolled the ball out to the left side to Steve Carroll. Carroll moved it ahead to Shawn Lawson on the other side of the midfield stripe. Lawson passed it ahead and cross field to Tyler Moorman. Moorman sent the ball into the box, toward the left post, where an Ann Arbor defender headed it onto the head of Bakie Goodman who directed it to the right where Tyler Mondi sent it into the back of the net with his right foot, for the goal that will live forever in Detroit City FC lore. The kind of goal where you will always remember where you were when it was scored.
There was still time on the clock, and AFC Ann Arbor pressed, even after going down to nine men when Jake Rufe went in hard on Zach Schewee, earning a red card. The final whistle blew, and the celebration began.
I certainly don’t consider myself a soccer scholar. But I cannot think of any match in the State of Michigan that can compare to this one. It had everything you could want. A championship match, between two teams who dislike each other, with the home team going into the locker room with a two goal lead, then the visitor goes down a man due to a red card only to come back and level the match with two goals, and the home team winning in extra time on a beautiful team goal that began with the keeper, before 6,400 fans. Has there been anything like this, ever, in Michigan soccer? I highly doubt it.
Detroit City FC are the 2017 NPSL Midwest Region Champions.
From here, the team qualified for the NPSL Semi-Finals, with Midland-Odessa FC from Texas to visit Keyworth in a week’s time.