Detroit City FC vs Los Angeles Force: 2020-21 NISA Championship Match



After the COVID pandemic shut down professional sports leagues across the nation, NISA was impacted as well.  The Spring 2020 season was cancelled on April 27, 2020, after a couple of postponements.  It was on June 4, 2020 that the league announced a Fall season schedule which would include a two-part process.  First, regional competition would commence in August, divided into two conferences; an Eastern Conference and a Western Conference.  Then, a Single Location Tournament would be held in late October at the conclusion of the regional competition resulting in a single Fall champion.  When the schedule was announced on July 31st, the League stated that “(t)he fall season will culminate in a tournament where we will crown the Fall Champion, who will host the NISA 2020/21 Season Championship match against the Spring Season Champion,”

The Fall Champion was Detroit City FC.

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On February 3, 2021, NISA announced its Spring schedule and format.  First, the Legends Tournament would be held in Chattanooga in April.  Then, a two-month season with each team playing eight matches (four home, four away), with the team at the top of the table being crowned champion.  The Legends Cup champion and Spring Season champion would play a semi-final match at Keyworth Stadium on June 30, 2021, the winner moving on to play the Fall Tournament Champion Detroit City FC for the 2020-21 Championship match at Keyworth.

The Legends Cup champions were Detroit City FC.

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We obviously couldn’t play against ourselves, so it was the team that lost in the Legends Cup Final match that advanced to the semi-finals.  Chattanooga FC.

The Spring season commenced and when it was over Detroit City FC sat atop the table.

NISA Spring 2021 table

We obviously were not going to play Chattanooga FC in the semi-final match, then ourselves again in the final.  By virtue of finishing second place, the Los Angeles Force was slotted in to play Chattanooga in the semi-final match.

On June 29th, NISA held a media day in Troy.  All three teams made an appearance to address the forthcoming two matches.  Los Angeles felt they could go all the way.  Coming in, they had won six of the last seven matches, falling only to Detroit on a rainy night at Keyworth.  The feeling UDCFCDH got was that they believed they would have beaten us and won the Spring Season had they played us on a sunny day.  Michigan isn’t Southern California.  Sorry not sorry.

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Next up, it was Chattanooga FC.  The team was struggling coming into the semi-final match.  Winless in four straight, Coach Peter Fuller admitted that the loss in the Legends Cup hit them hard.  They had blown away both LA (4-1) and New Amsterdam FC (3-0) to secure the bye in the Legends Cup Final.  But City’s defense suffocated them and Coach Fuller felt that it was difficult to recover from wanting to win that tournament at Finley Stadium.  Still, they were there to play, and they would put up a fight.

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Finally, Detroit City FC took to the stage.  Coach Trevor James wasn’t concerned which team City faced in the final, nor detailed a difference in strategy against one or the other.  City was going to play its game against either opponent.

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UDCFCDH asked Roddy Green, Nate Steinwascher, and Steve Carroll a question about the past.  With Saturday’s match having the potential of being a memorable night in Detroit City FC history, I asked the three who have spent a number of years here which was their most memorable moment leading up to this.  Roddy Green’s most memorable moment was the first couple of matches in the Spring, when the supporters were allowed to return to the stadium.  The supporters’ absence was noticeable and missed during the COVID empty-stadium matches, and their return reminded him how special the supporters are and what they bring.

For Nate Steinwascher, it was the May 9, 2018 US Open Cup match when we beat the Michigan Bucks at Keyworth.  Roddy’s PK goal to seal the victory made it a special night.  (Nate came up pretty big himself)

For Steve Carroll, it was winning the 2020 NISA Fall Tournament.  After losing the first match in the tournament to the Stars, it felt like everyone had counted them out of it.  But they rallied with wins against Oakland Roots and New Amsterdam FC, then beat LA in the semi-finals to meet the Oakland Roots in the final.  As shown earlier on this page, City won the Fall Tournament, earning them the place in the Championship Final and forced the match to be played at Keyworth.

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At the NISA Annual Awards Banquet, City dominated when it came to taking home individual pieces of silverware.

  • League MVP:  Patricio Botello-Faz (Detroit City FC)
  • Coach of the Year:  Trevor James (Detroit City FC)
  • Defender of the Year:  Steve Carroll (Detroit City FC)
  • Goalkeeper of the Year:  Nate Steinwascher (Detroit City FC)
  • Golden Boot: Christian Chaney (LA Force)


June 30, 2021
2020-21 NISA Semi-Final Match
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI

Chattanooga FC 2, Los Angeles Force 3
CFC:  Markus Nagelstad 31′
CFC:  Markus Nagelstad 47′
LAF:  Christian Chaney 57′
LAF:  Juan Pablo Ocegueda 70′
LAF:  Christian Gordillo Moreno 81′

Red Cards:
LAF:  Abraham Villon 86′
CFC:  Shaun Russell 86′

Starting XI

Alec Redington – GK
Shaun Russell – D
Richard Dixon – D
Nick Spielman – D
James Kasak – D
Tate Robertson – M
Ian McGrath – M
Cameron Woodfin – M
Sean Hoffstatter – M
Markus Nagelstad – F
Juan Hernandez – F

Starting XI

Hugo Gomez – GK
Kavian Kashani – D
Joseph Patrick Perez – D
Seamus McLaughlin – D
Juan Pablo Ocegueda – D
Joshua Culwell – D
Abraham Villon – M
Christian Gordillo Moreno – M
Edson Alvarado – M
Diego Barrera – M
Christian Chaney – F

Chattanooga drew first blood with a goal scored by Marcus Nagelstad in the 31st minute.  Chattanooga carried the one-nil lead to the locker room when the first half ended.

In the opening minute of the second half, an LA defender took down a Chattanooga player in the box, to set up a penalty kick for Nagelstad’s and CFC’s second goal in the 47th minute.

During the goal celebration, an LA player warming up nearby shouted to his teammates that a two-nil lead was the most difficult lead to defend.  Christian Chaney scored ten minutes later, to cut Chattanooga’s lead in half.

Then, in the 70th minute, Juan Pablo Ocegueda leveled the match at two-two.

In the 81st minute, Christian Gordillo-Moreno delivered the winning goal of the match on a beauty of a free kick, allowing Los Angeles to advance on to Saturday’s final against Detroit City FC.

On July 1, 2020, NISA announced that per NISA policy, the disciplinary committee reviewed the  double-red card incident between Los Angeles Forces’ Abraham Villon and Shaun Russell Jr.  Upon review the infractions were reduced to a yellow card for each player. Villon will be available for Los Angeles’ Finals match against Detroit City FC on Saturday night.

July 3, 2021
2020-21 NISA Championship Match
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI

Detroit City FC 1, Los Angeles Force 0
DCFC:  Own Goal (Seamus McLaughlin) 61′

Attendance:  7,241

Tonight would be the night.  Detroit City FC’s journey, which began in 2012 in the semi-pro National Premiere Soccer League (NPSL), has brought the team to the 3rd Tier pro-rank.  Here, at Keyworth Stadium, where the team had to move and renovate due to the swelling fences at Cass Tech High School, would be the chance to be crowned champion in a professional soccer league.  Before 7,241 supporters on this sunny and warm Independence Day Eve, the atmosphere was perfect.

A brief stroll around the concessions before the match.

Before the match, we learned our Kit Man – Moises Orozco – would be headed west for a position as an assistant kit man with the Seattle Sounders.  He’s been with us for a number of years, and this year he worked his butt off with four teams’ worth of kits to tend to.  We will miss him and we wish him well on this new journey.

Starting XI

Brandon Gomez – GK
Joseph Patrick Perez – D
Seamus McLaughlin – D
Erick Villatoro – D
Juan Pablo Ocegueda – D
Joshua Cullwell – D
Abraham Villon – M
Christian Gordillo-Moreno – M
Edson Alverado – M
Diego Barrera – M
Christian Chaney – F

Starting XI

Nate Steinwascher – GK
Stephen Carroll – D
Matt Lewis – D
Anthony Manning – D
Jimmy Filerman – M
Kevin Venegas – M
George Chomakov – M
Maxi Rodriguez – M
Connor Rutz – M
Cyrus Saydee – F
Patricio Botello Faz – F

The match began wide open.  A shot by Diego Barrera was turned away by Nate Steinwascher in the first minute.  On the resulting corner kick, Nate again had to parry the ball out of danger.  In the third minute, City threatened with Connor Rutz taking the ball to the end line, then feeding it out front for Maxi Rodriguez whose shot sailed over the crossbar.

After a few more chances by City the match became physical.  In the 19th minute, LA’s Abraham Villon collided with Patricio Botello Faz’s elbow, catching the LA captain just above the eye.  To stop the bleeding, Villon’s head was wrapped and what looked like a bathing cap was used to hold the wrap in place.  Ten minutes later, Christian Gordillo Moreno was shown a yellow card for stepping into Maxi Rodriguez, sending the City midfielder to the ground.  Then, in the 42nd minute, a free kick sent in by Christian Gordillo Moreno was knocked out of the box.  Erick Villatoro fired the ball back into the box and John Patrick Perez attempted a bicycle kick.  His foot missed the ball and struck Connor Rutz on the nose, though no card was given for the dangerous kick.

At halftime, the score remained nil-nil.  Supporters and Friendly the Bear were optimistic about the second half.

Los Angeles would get the first opportunities.  In the 47th minute, Christian Chaney received a pass from Diego Barrera, and hit the side netting with his shot.  Two minutes later, Barrera drove the ball high toward the upper corner of the net, but Nate Steinwascher palmed it away.  Then City shifted the momentum.  In the 56th minute, Patrico Botello Faz passed the ball in to Kevin Venegas.  His shot was blocked but rebounded out to Cyrus Saydee who fired it at goal.  Hugo Gomez deflected it wide for a corner.

Finally, the moment.  In the 62nd minute, Kevin Venegas along the right side lofted the ball over the defender’s head.  It fell to the foot of LA defender Seamus McLaughlin who was facing goal, hoping to guide it to Gomez.  But Gomez was too close to the defender and the ball sailed over him and bounced into the goal.

City’s ball possession created frustration, and yellow cards were issued.  In the span of nine minutes, three yellow cards were issued to LA’s Erick Villatoro, Joseph Patrick Perez, and Diego Barrera.  The Force’s assistant coach was also shown yellow.

In the final minutes, the Force created some chances.  In the 88th minute, Christian Gordillo Moreno delivered a nice pass to Christian Chaney, but his shot went wide.  In the 91st minute, Gordillo Moreno fired in a free kick that Nate Steinwascher palmed away.  Chaney was shown a yellow when he kicked Nate’s face as City’s keeper gathered the ball near the end line.  Chaney had one last attempt – a bicycle kick – that Nate gathered with ease.

2020-21 NISA Champions!

There was a party in Detroit.  No one slept tonight.


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