Last-ditch goal rains on Detroit City FC's home opener

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News
Kalamazoo's Lasse Kjeldsen isn't happy about a play by Detroit's Tommy Buono in the first half.

Hamtramck — Kalamazoo FC’s Elliot Miller made a splash, but not the kind that endeared him to the rain-soaked Detroit City FC faithful Sunday.

His goal in the 90th minute broke a 2-all deadlock, sending Le Rouge to a 3-2 defeat in the club’s home opener before 5,254 spectators at Keyworth Stadium.

Miller, who made Kalamazoo’s club during a tryout in the winter, came on a late second-half sub and dealt the dagger, sending DCFC to an unfortunate — if not undeserved — loss.

Unlike last week’s season-opening 1-0 victory over the Michigan Stars, DCFC dominated possession and led 1-0 at intermission on Shawn Lawson’s goal in the 40th minute. Guiseppe Vitale’s penalty kick leveled matters 1-1 in the 58th minute before Max Todd pounced on goalkeeper Isaac Walker’s fumble to put DCFC up 2-1 five minutes later.

Kalamazoo’s Dalton Michael scored on a breakaway with DCFC defender Jalen Crisler’s last-ditch slide tackle, pushing it slightly to the right of goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher in the 73rd minute.

Miller’s goal, which Crisler also tracked back on, just added to the home side’s misfortune.

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“I slid to block itand I don't even think I touched it,” said Crisler, who was a stalwart on the DCFC backline and occasionally moved up in the play offensively.

“He scuffed it and it kind made it loft a little bit ... I'm kind of lost for words for how it went in. It hurts, a 3-2 loss.”

Miller, who is a graduate student at Central Michigan, entered the match in the 84th minute. The Elkhart, Ind., resident played club soccer for Purdue FC.

“I’d say that’s the biggest goal I’ve ever scored, especially in front of a crowd like this,” Miller said. “It’s what you dream about, playing in front of a crowd like that … even bigger that. It’s what you play the game for.”

A year ago, the match likely would have been rained out. The new artificial surface at Keyworth was able to withstand the substantial rainfall before and during the match.

Standing water made passing difficult and led to some rash tackles. The match was delayed 19 minutes after a rumble of thunder was heard, delaying warmups.

Crisler moved up and managed to get a header on frame on a swerving free kick from Cyrus Saydee in the 10th minute. About eight minutes later, midfielder Bakie Goodman worked a give-and-go with Lawson that required Kalazamoo's keeper to push a shot over the bar for a corner.

Steinwascher slipped coming out at the feet of Kalamazoo's surging Michael but managed to regain his composure in time to stop the attacker's shot in the 36th minute.

Detroit City fans start the game up with the traditional smoke flares welcoming the visiting team to Keyworth Stadium.

Kervin Kerton rose above the sloppy conditions in the first half, slotting a perfect pass to Lawson lurking near the six-yard box. DCFC’s all-time leading scorer slotted it home for his second goal of the season.

“You come out of the first half, you are up one goal. You maybe should have a few more,” Crisler said. “We kept the ball well. The surface was tough today. We had a little bit of a delay, so it was tough to start. I think we came out and did a fantastic job. The midfielders, the attackers all did well.

“If you said we were going to lose that game 3-2, I would have been lost for words.”

Detroit City FC (1-1) hosts AFC Ann Arbor (2-0-1) on Friday at Keyworth. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

Twitter: @larryo1961