Detroit City stays in hunt with late rally in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor — Going into Sunday’s match, Detroit City FC was on the verge of being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. On the other side, AFC Ann Arbor was jockeying with Grand Rapids FC for first place in the NPSL West Division.
Le Rouge scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to beat Ann Arbor 3-1 on Sunday at Hollway Field.
“Our guys dug deep and never said die,” Detroit coach Ben Pirmann said. “Maybe a month ago that’s something where we might have packed it in and not gotten any points.”
Cyrus Saydee scored in the 73rd and 82nd minutes for Detroit City (3-2-3 NPSL West).
“We all had to put in the fight,” he said. “Today was just all about heart. I really applaud the guys. We all put in a great, great effort.”
The teams played to a 1-1 draw on May 26 — the first match between the two, and the first at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck.
Neither team took control through the first 25 minutes.
Dario Suarez was assessed a yellow card in the 31st minute for shoving Jeff Adkins, who left with an injury. Adkins was replaced by Spiro Pliakos.
Lang made an outstanding save on Ann Arbor’s Jake Rufe, who was in alone on the keeper, keeping it 0-0 in the 40th minute.
The score was 0-0 after 45 minutes, with both teams combining for 16 fouls — 11 on Ann Arbor, and five against Detroit City.
“At halftime, I thought we were in a pretty good spot,” Ann Arbor coach Eric Rudland said. “We talked about a couple defensive issues we needed to clean up, which we did a decent job of at the beginning of the second half. And then we kind of lost our way after Detroit leveled the game 1-1.”
In the 55th minute, Ann Arbor (5-1-3 West) took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Willie Bayemi, but that would be all for the Mighty Oak, who head to Grand Rapids on Friday for a matchup of the top two teams in the division.
“Personnel-wise, we’re in a good spot,” Rudland said. “Mentality-wise, we’re going to be in a good spot as well. It’s just about the players responding and us getting results on the road.”
City hosts the Columbus Crew College Program in a friendly on Wednesday before traveling to Lansing for a matchup against Lansing United. Those teams played to a 2-2 draw on June 12 at Keyworth Stadium.
“We’ve got to go in there and get all three points,” Pirmann said. “We know they’ve got a little glimmer of hope with their season left and they know they’ve got to beat us to have any shot, and we’ve got to beat them to have any shot.”
Saydee said it’s important for his team not to get ahead of itself, despite the looming playoff implications.
“The big thing now is just to take it game-by-game,” he said.
Al Willman is a freelance writer.