Hamtramck — Though Detroit City Football Club wasn’t the first to score on Saturday night at Keyworth Stadium, the result was never really in doubt.
After a 20th-minute goal from Dakota FC’s Zuheer Al Abase put the visitors on top in the early going, Le Rouge responded with vengeance, cruising to a 5-1 victory in a National Premier Soccer League regional playoff matchup.
With the win, No. 4-seed DCFC will take on No. 2 Duluth FC in the regional semifinals on Friday at a site still to be determined. NPSL league owners will vote on where Friday's Midwest region semifinals and Saturday's final will take place.
Detroit City FC has submitted a bid to host the regional playoff matches. No. 1 AFC Ann Arbor meets No. 6 Dayton in the other semifinal.
Before Dakota FC got on the board, Le Rouge had controlled the pace of the game Saturday. And in the 25th minute, Dakota got its comeuppance.
Shawn Lawson was on the receiving end of a nice through pass from Cyrus Saydee in the 25th minute. Lawson took a touch at the top of the penalty box and was able to strike, tying the game at a goal apiece.
“The first 20 minutes weren’t bad,” DCFC coach Ben Pirmann said. “I thought we were a little reactive defensively. But I thought for 90 minutes that our attack was very good. We responded well and took care of things from there.”
It was just 10 minutes later when Saydee played a big role in Le Rouge’s second goal, drawing a foul in the box as he went in on goal. Seb Harris’ penalty kick was true, putting DCFC up 2-1.
“That’s what we’ve talked about,” Harris said. “You go down, you get back up and keep going. Things happen, and they scored, but we just kept pounding them. I live for those moments.”
Le Rouge never looked back.
Roddy Green opened the second half with a goal in the 47th minute that deflated Dakota FC, which never really threatened goalkeeper Fernando Pina after its early goal.
For good measure, Lawson scored a second goal after rebounding in his own penalty kick attempt, finishing on the second attempt at goal to put the game away in the 76th minute.
Harris added another tally five minutes later.
“It was a sense of focus,” Saydee said. “We just kept going. It shows our resilience as a team. We got knocked down and we responded. It’s all about everybody doing their job.”
Le Rouge would have to win its next four matches to claim NPSL National Championship.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer