Detroit City FC can put one hand on the NPSL Members Cup, taking over first place with a heart-thumping, 2-1 victory over the New York Cosmos B on Saturday in Uniondale, New York.
Cyrus Saydee (8th minute) and Yazeed Matthews (30th) supplied the goals for DCFC (7-0-1), which can clinch the cup with a win over the Michigan Stars on Wednesday at Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
Matt Lewis headed in the lone goal in the 82nd minute for the Cosmos (6-1-2), who dominated possession but couldn't find an equalizer. An unofficial tally had New York outshooting Detroit 20-3.
Lewis' goal created a tense ending for unbeaten Le Rouge, which needed a win or a draw to sustain its cup hopes.
Unshaken belief in each other carried Le Rouge through the final eight minutes of regulation and three minutes of added time, DCFC defender Jalen Crisler said.
"It was tough," Crisler said. "They were coming at us kind of all game, so we knew we had to keep battling and what not. We were up two and it was tough when they get that goal with 10 minutes left, because you know they are going to keep throwing balls in the box and still keep working.
"It was a great effort from everybody, just knowing that if we keep working we will see it out."
DCFC has two matches remaining, including the home finale against Milwaukee next Saturday at Keyworth. New York has one left against last-place Napa Valley 1839 FC, which made Saturday's encounter the premier match of the tournament.
The teams drew 1-1 on Sept. 21 in a hotly contested affair at Keyworth Stadium.
Defender Marcello Borges' exquisite work along the left flank set up the opening goal. The defender managed to maneuver around a Cosmos defender before lifting an elegant cross to the front of goal, which Matthews laid off for Saydee to slam into the upper right-hand corner of the net.
Matthews' goal came on the half volley off a free kick from Danny Deakin. The Cosmos backline looked in disarray, leaving the South African alone to blast in the shot to give DCFC a two-goal advantage at the half.
The goal was Matthews' fourth in Members Cup play.
The Cosmos were missing forwards Aaron Dennis (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Shavon John-Brown (Grenada) who were both off on international duty in CONCACAF Nation's League play.
El Salvadorian midfielder Efrain "Junior" Burgos was content to sit back and pick apart DCFC's backline with well-placed aerial balls to Bljedi Bardic, Darwin Espinal and Isaac Acuña. Bardic was sprung in alone a few times but missed.
Saydee headed one clear shot off the line while Crisler took one blast to the midsection in the first half defending the goal in front of goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher.
"It definitely stung a bit," said Crisler, who was left doubled over. "The ball stayed in play so I had to pop up quick because I kept them onside and had to see it played out so before I could hit the deck again."
Steinwascher saw his shutout streak end at 387 minutes when Lewis lept above the fray to head home a corner.
In the 86th minute, defender Stephen Carroll closed down on the Cosmos' Aly Hassan who intercepted a Crisler headed backpass intended for Steinwascher. Carroll blocked Hassan's shot, earning a corner.
"It's been phenomenal," Crisler said. "We have a great group of guys that have bought into a plan and who are working for each other. We know we have each other's backs. We have to trust that and trust that we'll be able to pull through."