Hamtramck — In a U.S. Open Cup encounter fraught with drama, Detroit City FC prevailed over the Michigan Bucks Wednesday.
DCFC won 5-4 on penalty kicks. Le Rouge goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher stopped Ivo Cerda’s attempt, leaving Roddy Green to blast home the deciding spot-kick after the match ended 1-1.
The DCFC-Bucks match had it all: A dramatic goal, a late penalty kick to level matters in regulation, a tense 30-minute extra time session with a sending off.
Of course, the whole theatrical affair played out before a largely pro-Le Rouge crowd of 3,415 fans at Keyworth Stadium.
Detroit City FC advances to play the United Soccer League’s FC Cincinnati on Wednesday, May 16, at University of Cincinnati's Gettler Stadium.
Shawn Lawson had DCFC’s goal in regulation; Alfonso Pineirho Neto scored on a penalty kick for the Bucks in 84th minute, leading to a scoreless extra time and penalty kicks.
Le Rouge was reduced to 10 men five minutes into the first extra session when Greg Janicki received a straight red for a high challenge on Cerda.
“The red card was clearly not a red card. It just wasn't,” DCFC coach Ben Pirmann said. “He came up like this and kicked up. Yeah, his foot was waist high, but he came from ground up and their guy actually stomp on him. So bad call.”
Despite playing shorthanded, DCFC held its own with Steinwascher coming up big in the 101st minute. In the 117th minute, defender Jimmy Fiscus cleared a Bucks corner from danger as the team settled for penalty kicks.
The Bucks had a possible handball by DCFC in the penalty area during the 110th minute go uncalled, adding to the nail-biting intensity of the affair.
The teams traded goals in a taut second half.
The referee immediately whistled when Bucks defender Brad Ruhaak was tripped by DCFC’s Stephen Carroll inside the box. Neto, who came on as a second-half sub, calmly slotted the penalty attempt to Steinwascher’s left, tying the match 1-1 in the 84th minute.
Steinwascher, who dove to his right while guessing Neto’s intentions, was uncanny in the penalty kick session when he pawed away Cerda’s attempt.
Goalkeeper talks about his save on Michigan Bucks' Ivo Cerda, which enabled the Le Rouge to defeat the Premier Development League side in the U.S. Open Cup on penalty kicks Wednesday. Larry O'Connor
“Again, it's a guessing game,” said Steinwascher, who turned aside two spot kicks in the shootout. “I saw him approach the ball and his hips were closed the whole time, so I just had to go to my right side. Players are good, so I know they are going to put it in the corners.”
Lawson broke the scoreless deadlock, executing the exquisite finish after Rafa Mentzingen’s initial effort hit the bar. The goal in the 56th minute culminated from a long throw-in and ensuing goalmouth scramble.
“That's where Shawn is great. He is so composed around goal,” Pirmann said.
The Bucks’ fortress of Jared Timmer, Daniel Mukuna and David Goldsmith were denying aerial balls to Lawson throughout the first half.
Lawson continued to feel Timmer’s wrath in the second half with the Bucks player earning a yellow card for a reckless challenge from behind in the 48th minute.
Detroit had a chance to add to its lead in the 75th minute. Danny Deakin’s swerving corner into the wind vexed Bucks goalkeeper Jimmy Hague, who had to tip it over the bar.
Goldsmith supplied the Bucks with their best scoring chance in the first half, lashing a shot that was deflected for a corner in the 16th minute.
Mentzingen supplied the dour first half’s only flicker of drama when he surged forward and uncorked a shot from 20 yards that required Hague to dive to his left before the halftime whistle blew.
"He is a special attacker, he has pace," Pirmann said. "He's almost this year's version of Tyrone (Mondi) where if he is in open space it is hard to deal with him. He's more direct than Tyrone. He's more of a goal scorer. He can really get after guys.
"Once you get him, Danny (Deakin) and Cyrus (Saydee) buzzing off each other we'll really have some stuff going."
DCFC came into the cup tie on the back of having played three friendlies (1-2-0), including a 1-1 draw with Boulder, Colorado-based Harpos FC Saturday. Jeff Adkins scored for Detroit.
During the preseason, Pirmann was able to debut newcomers like forwards Deakin (Orlando City/South Carolina) and Mentzingen (Lansing United/Valparaiso), and defender Fiscus (AFC Ann Arbor/Michigan State).
Michigan Bucks new coach Paul Thomas had no such luxury.
The majority of team members congregated this weekend and there were no preseason friendlies to prepare the cup run.
The PDL side is counting on veteran striker Goldsmith, who is back after playing with North American Soccer League Indy Eleven. Another former NASL player, defender Ruhaak (North Carolina FC), is also expected to fortify the Bucks backline.
With the departure of goalkeeper Drew Shepherd (Western Michigan), who was selected No. 46 overall by Toronto FC in the MLS Super Draft, the Bucks are expected to lean heavily on MSU standout Hague, who stopped two spot kicks in the shootout session.
“We had two players fly in today,” Thomas said. “The Open Cup is always difficult because of the time of year and kids getting out of college and different schedules, so we didn't have a practice together, but we know the guys who played with us before and we have a lot of trust in those players.”