April 19, 2022
US Open Cup 3rd Round Match
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
Resistance is Not Futile
With their decades of history, the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Detroit Red Wings, and Detroit Pistons have been the headliners in the Detroit sports world. Parents would take their kids to Tiger Stadium, Comerica Park, the Silverdome, Ford Field, the Olympia, Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Hall, the Palace of Auburn Hills, and Little Caesar’s Arena to capture the ambience and witness their sports heroes perform, wearing their team crests, live. And teams that emerged playing in other leagues could not crack the Detroit sports environment because of a paradigm that if it isn’t a pro team it lacks merit to be included in the clique.
Since Major League Soccer’s formation in 1996, there have been ebbs and flows of chatter surrounding putting a team in Detroit. But the closest MLS has come to Detroit is when a lower division team advanced far enough in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup to force a visit.
Tonight, MLS club Columbus Crew SC would visit Keyworth to play Detroit’s professional soccer team – Detroit City FC – and it had all the buzz of a playoff game in any of the other Detroit sports teams venues.
City had played friendly matches against the Crew’s Under-20s and College program between 2012 and 2017 (skipping the 2014 season match due to storms in Michigan and Ohio). And though those friendlies didn’t really garner animosity, tonight there was a tangible hate felt by the Northern Guard Supporters for the team from the four-letter state south of Michigan and for the league they represent. It had a palpable energy, like the old Colorado Avalanche/Detroit Red Wings or Detroit Pistons/Chicago Bulls-LA Lakers-Boston Celtics eras.
The Crew came in losing their last three matches, scoreless in all of them. Their last goal was an added time goal by Darlington Nagbe to earn a 1-1 draw against New York Red Bulls on March 19th. City was unbeaten in its last six matches, including their 2nd Round victory over the Michigan Stars (NISA).
Columbus Crew SC
Evan Bush – Goalkeeper
Josh Williams – Defender
Jalil Aribaba – Defender
William Sands – Defender
Marlon Hairston – Defender
Isaiah Parente – Midfielder
James Igbekeme – Midfielder
Aiden Morris – Midfielder
Gyasi Zardes – Forward
Alexandru Matan – Forward
Erik Hurtado – Forward
Detroit City FC
Front Row, Left to Right
Deklan Wynne – Defender
Pato Botello-Faz – Forward
Connor Rutz – Forward
Abdoulaye Diop – Midfielder
Antoine Hoppenot – Foward
Rhys Williams – Defender
Back Row, Left to Right
Maxi Rodriguez – Midfielder
Devon Amoo-Mensah – Defender
Matt Lewis – Defender
Nate Steinwascher – Goalkeeper
Steve Carroll – Defender/Captain
The referee was Chris Ruska. Ruska has been the head referee in 17 USL Championship matches since 2019, his most recent appearance being earlier this season on March 23rd in Atlanta for the Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-nil victory over Atlanta United II, where he showed 3 yellow cards. He was the head referee in one previous US Open Cup match back in 2019 when the Pittsburgh Riverhounds eliminated Indy Eleven by a 1-nil score. Two Riverhounds saw yellow cards that night. Ruska’s assistants were Jake Brochu and Ryan Homik. Nicole Green was the fourth official.
All the tension within the stadium was amplified in the 6th minute when the Crew’s Aiden Morris was taken down by Abdoulaye Diop in the box, forcing Ruska to point to the spot. Nate Steinwascher guessed right, but Gyasi Zardes’ shot was just hard enough and beyond Nate’s fingertips, finding its place in the net and putting the Crew up 1-nil in the 7th minute.
The remainder of the half was a battle to frustrate. The Crew maintained a large portion of ball possession, but could not make use of any of that possession to create chances. City, on the other hand, used its possession efficiently, creating shots that missed the target. In the 9th minute, Pato received a pass from Connor Rutz, but sailed the shot over the bar. In the 18th minute, a cross from Rhys Williams found Pato, but his shot deflected wide for a corner. On the ensuing corner kick, a header sailed wide of goal. The half ended with more frustration. With the play late in stoppage time, City was awarded a corner kick. As everyone was lined up to take it, Referee Ruska blew the whistle to end the half before the kick was delivered. In total, where the Crew had 62% of the possession, City outshot the Crew 6-2. The only yellow card was shown to William Sands of the Crew in the 43rd minute for a hard foul on Rhys Williams.
Danger loomed early in the second half as Gyasi Zardes went in alone on Nate Steinwascher. Nate cleared the ball and Zardes went down in the box, but Ruska deemed it a clean tackle in the 47th minute.
With a team like City, graced not with a single superstar, the players coalesce as a unit, and one emerges a hero on the night. Tonight it would be Maxi Rodriguez. A San Antonio native, Maxi debuted with City at the 2021 NISA Legends Cup, playing all 360 minutes of the four-match tournament which City won defeating Chattanooga FC. Previously, he had played a season for the Richmond Kickers in USL1 and two seasons with San Antonio FC. He scored his first goal for City, and added an assist, on the west coast in a 3-nil victory against Cal United Strikers on May 13, 2021.
In the 64th minute, Deklan Wynne played a ball through to Antoine Hoppenot. Antoine delivered a tasty cross to the front of goal where Maxi headed it sharply past Evan Bush and into the goal.
The stadium erupted, but there was still a lot of time, and the threat remained. A minute after the goal, Nate Steinwascher was called on to make a huge save against Alexandro Matan, guiding the ball away from the lower right corner of the goal.
In the 78th minute City made its only substitution of the match; Michael Bryant in for Abdoulaye Diop. This substitution turned the match as five minutes later, with the score deadlocked and the clock moving closer to extra time, Pato guided the ball toward the front of goal. Michael raced ahead of Crew defender Josh Williams. Williams pulled Michael down in the box, and Referee Ruska pointed to the spot.
Up to the spot stepped Maxi Rodriguez.
Four minutes plus seven minutes of stoppage time was the length of the slow fuse that ignited into the explosive roar of cheers from the 6,121 fans at Keyworth and in the homes and bars watching on ESPN+.
Some may say that City needs to move into MLS now, and become a top-level professional club. But a move to become a league-owned entity would strip City of its identity and control of its match day experience and community ownership. In the USL Championship, despite some regulation, the club does not lose its core identity, and still has the opportunity of competing and beating MLS teams in the US Open Cup competition. As the United States Soccer pyramid is currently structured, Detroit City FC is in its perfect position. League dominance at the USL-Championship and bringing home the US Open Cup by beating MLS teams are top-level worthy achievements without having to assimilate to the Borg which is MLS.
Detroit City FC 2, Columbus Crew SC 0
CCSC: Gyasi Zardes (PK) 7′
DCFC: Maxi Rodriguez (Antoine Hoppenot) 64′
DCFC: Maxi Rodriguez (PK) 86′
Possession: DCFC 43%, Columbus 57%
Shots: DCFC 12, Columbus 5
Shots on Target: DCFC 2, Columbus 2
Yellow Cards: DCFC 1 (Matt Lewis), Columbus 3 (William Sands, Isaiah Parente, Miguel Berry)
Red Cards: DCFC 0, Columbus 0
KEEPER KIT RECORD (Both USL Championship and Open Cup)
A big win in blue.
- Purple Kit: 1 draw
- Yellow Kit: 2 wins, 2 clean sheets
- Blue Kit: 3 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss, 2 clean sheets
IN OTHER US OPEN CUP MATCHES TODAY:
Flower City Union (NISA) 0, DC United (MLS) 3
The Miami FC (USL-C) 0, Inter Miami (MLS) 1
Cincinnati FC (MLS) 2, Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL-C) 0
Chicago Fire (MLS) 2 (4), Union Omaha (USL-L1) 2 (5)
Tormenta FC (USL-L1) 2, Birmingham Legion (USL-C) 1
FC Dallas (MLS) 2, FC Tulsa (USL-C) 1
Houston Dynamo (MLS) 2, Rio Grande Valley FC (USL-C) 1
San Jose Earthquake (MLS) 5, Bay Cities FC (NISA) 0
LA Galaxy (MLS) 1, San Diego Loyal (USL-C) 0
Cal United Strikers (NISA) 2, FC Tucson (USL-L2) 1