Hamtramck — Like many of his Detroit City FC teammates, Tyrone Mondi hit a wall Saturday. The diminutive South African played 80 minutes in Friday’s 5-2 NPSL Midwest Region semifinal victory over Duluth FC, scoring three goals.
Saturday’s final was deadlocked 2-2 after AFC Ann Arbor rallied. Tired, Mondi asked to come off, but coach Ben Pirmann wanted a little more from his playmaking forward.
Mondi delivered, slamming home a stoppage-time goal and lifting Detroit City to a 3-2 victory over nine-man AFC Ann Arbor while sending most of the 6,409 fans into delirium at Keyworth Stadium.
Jordan Tyler and Omar Sinclair also scored for Detroit City FC, which advances to the NPSL national semifinals against Midland-Odessa on Saturday at Keyworth Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Bakie Goodman headed the ball into the box and Mondi latched onto it, sending a half-volley screaming past AFC Ann Arbor goalkeeper TJ Tomasso.
Mondi’s winning strike erased a gallant comeback by AFC Ann Arbor, which leveled the score on second-half goals by Tendai Jirira and Alec Lasinski despite being reduced to 10 men.
“I feel good, to be honest, but I was actually knackered,” said Mondi, whose four goals came in less than 24 hours. “In the 80th minute, I told Ben. 'Ben, please take me off.' He asked me, 'How long do you want,' and I said, 'Five minutes.' I looked at the clock and it was 85 minutes and ... six minutes was added on. I was like, 'Please take me off.' This was what he was probably thinking in the back of his mind.
"My legs were tired, playing almost 80 minutes yesterday and playing 96 minutes today. It's been a crazy weekend."
AFC Ann Arbor’s comeback hopes appeared to be dealt a serious blow when midfielder Kwessi Allen received a straight red for a reckless challenge in the 66th minute on Goodman, reducing the team to 10 men.
A second Ann Arbor player, Jake Rufe, was sent off after receiving a second yellow in stoppage time.
DCFC was lulled to sleep with the one-man advantage. Ann Arbor rallied with two goals to tie the match at 2-all.
Detroit City FC coach Ben Pirmann discusses his team's stoppage-time 3-2 victory over AFC Ann Arbor on Saturday at Keyworth Stadium. Larry O'Connor, Detroit News
The Mighty Oak’s Jirira struck first in the 75th minute, slipping a shot past DCFC goalkeeper Fernando Pina to make it a one-goal game.
Six minutes later, Lasinski raised his goal total against his former club to three when he slotted the ball home from the left side to level it 2-2.
“As we've said all year, we've got great determination and I think it showed tonight,” AFC Ann Arbor coach Eric Rudland said. “It's tough to be in this environment for a championship game and go down two goals and I really give our guys a lot of credit for fighting back ... two goals down, a man down, I don't think we could ask more from our guys.”
AFC Ann Arbor coach described the red card on Allen as “a bit harsh,” acknowledging Allen made contact with Goodman but won possession of the ball. Rudland also questioned the second yellow on Rufe in stoppage time.
"I'd like to see the statistics of how many calls we had versus them,” he said. “I think it was pretty jaded from that perspective, but it's part of playing away right?”
AFC Ann Arbor found itself in a two-goal hole after the first half.
Tyler scored on a goalmouth scramble following a corner kick, and the Penn State forward dispatched the ball into the net to break the scoreless affair at the 35th minute. Zach Bock assisted.
About 10 minutes later, Sinclair deposited a low, bending a free kick around the four-man AFC Ann Arbor wall to put Le Rouge 2-0.
AFC Ann Arbor tried to impose its will on DCFC in the first half. However, Le Rouge had the better of the chances.
Bock saw his header off fly over the net in the sixth minute. Sinclair’s direct free kick just swerved wide of frame in the 23rd minute.
A long throw in by The Mighty Oak’s Sam Zisette led to a furious scramble in front of Pina, who pulled off a brilliant double save in the 16th minute.
Kaleb Jackson, who Pina denied moments earlier at close range, headed over the bar on the ensuing corner kick.
The backline of Stephen Carroll, Troy Watson, Sinclair and Bock did a solid job absorbing the probing runs of Hector Morales, Yuri Farkas and Jackson in the first half.
“It was an emotional roller-coaster,” DCFC coach Ben Pirmann said. “Fernando makes a big save early. We score two. They get the red card. We were struggling to hold. Our former player ties it up right in our faces and we were dead.
“Tyrone asked for a sub and I said, ‘Stay on the field, you are going to win it for us and he put it away.’ We went from depression to elation in a matter of seconds.”