Detroit City FC's late draw against Grand Rapids dashes playoff hopes
Roddy Green's tying goal in the 90th minute capped a thrilling encounter between two National Premier Soccer League rivals, but Detroit City's 4-4 draw with Grand Rapids FC on Friday at Houseman Field officially eliminated Le Rouge from postseason contention.
DCFC (4-3-3, 15 points) has two regular-season matches left, including Sunday's home affair with the Milwaukee Torrent. Kickoff is 5 p.m.
Jakub Svehlik (15') and Shawn Lawson (62', penalty kick) added goals for Detroit, which also benefited from a Grand Rapids own goal in the 52nd minute.
Matt Whelan (5', 63') scored twice while Scott Doney (45') and Caleb Postlewait (80') scored for GCFC (7-3-2, 23 points), which failed to lock up the second and final playoff spot with the result.
Postlewait's goal in the 80th appeared to give the west Michigan side reason to celebrate, especially after news of first-place AFC Ann Arbor's 1-0 win over 10-man FC Columbus at Skyline High.
A Grand Rapids win coupled with an FC Columbus loss would have eliminated the Ohio team from the race.
Green's header proved to be the spoiler in a see-saw match, which was played in 90-plus degree temperatures that required mandatory water breaks.
Like last Saturday in a 1-1 draw to Kalamazoo FC, DCFC found itself trailing early.
GRFC's Whelan slammed home a goal on a side volley from seven yards out past débutante Le Rouge goalkeeper Damon Favero in the fifth minute.
The play developed from a corner kick, which GRFC's Cam Cavanagh headed across goal for Whelan to finish.
Svehlik delivered the equalizer for DCFC 10 minutes later, blasting home a rebound after GCFC goalkeeper Noah Fazekas made the initial save on Brogan Shrimpton's header. The goal was the Czech native's first for Le Rouge.
The teams equally shared possession in a taut first half.
DCFC defender Jimmy Fiscus, whose inspired play during the past few weeks has been a highlight amid the team's uneven results, prevented a possible second goal in the 29th minute with a sweeping tackle on GCFC's Kenroy Howell from eight yards out.
A defensive lapse led to GCFC's go-ahead goal in first-half stoppage time.
Howell was able to navigate freely on the left wing where he was able to spot lanky New Zealand forward Doney, who was able to fully turn and deposit the ball into the net.
A minute into the second half, DCFC duo Rudel and Lawson would have had been left with a gaping goal if not for a last-ditch clearance by GCFC Thomas Vegter.
Then DCFC benefited from a rub of the green — which has eluded Le Rouge much of the season — on its second goal.
A long ball from Mattias Tomasino found Rudel bearing down on goal. Fazekas made the initial save on the forward's shot only to see the rebound bounce off Vegter and into the net. The own goal occurred in the 52nd minute.
The teams swapped goals within a chaotic minute of play.
Lawson, who was brought down by Fazekas in the area, converted a penalty kick to give DCFC a short-lived one-goal lead in the 62nd minute.
On the ensuing possession, GCFC Whelan leveled it 3-3 on a half-volley, setting up an enthralling finish.
(At) AFC Ann Arbor 1, FC Columbus 0: Martieon Watson's goal in the 95th minute of stoppage time clinched the Great Lakes Conference Division title for the second consecutive season for the Mighty Oak (8-1-2, 26 points).