Surging Detroit City FC faces top-seeded LA Force in NISA Fall Tournament semi on Wednesday
Detroit City FC finds itself before the same obstacle when it launched as a professional club six months ago — the LA Force.
DCFC faces off against the top-seeded Force on Wednesday in the National Independent Soccer Association Fall Tournament semifinals at Keyworth Stadium. Kickoff is 8 p.m.
Oakland Roots meet Chattanooga FC in the first semi at 5 p.m. Both semifinals will be shown on beIN Sports Xtra, which is available on Pluto TV.
The winners advance to Friday's championship final at 6 p.m.
DCFC and LA Force met in the season-opener Feb. 28 in Los Angeles with Le Rouge securing a 2-0 victory as Matt Lewis, who was on loan from the New York Cosmos, and Roddy Green provided the goals.
Two weeks later, NISA announced it was shutting down due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Since then, the club and the rest of the soccer community have endured a pandemic-fraught world of uncertainty.
With unwavering support from supporters, though, DCFC has raised $1.86 million through a campaign that enables fans to buy shares in the club.
DCFC resumed play in late July by winning the regional NISA Independent Cup, defeating FC Buffalo 3-0 Aug. 2 to hoist the trophy. The team finished 1-2-1 in a shortened NISA fall season, getting shut out three of four matches — two of those scoreless draws (Michigan Stars, Aug. 22 and Cosmos, Sept. 9).
In the fall tournament, Le Rouge has shown signs shaking out of their doldrums.
DCFC's all-time leading scorer Shawn-Claud Lawson has bagged three goals in his last two games, including two in LeRouge's 4-2 victory over New Amsterdam FC on Sunday in the final day of Group A play. The former Oakland University standout also netted the winner in Thursday's 2-1 triumph over Oakland Roots.
Yazeed Matthews, another frustrated talisman, opened DCFC's account in a pivotal victory over the Roots.
One reason for the uptick in offense is Le Rouge's midfield engine is beginning to purr.
Start with the returns of Bakie Goodman and Cyrus Saydee for the NISA fall competition. Their reappearance coincides with the implementation of league-mandated testing protocols and players being put into a bubble for the fall tournament.
Coach Trevor James and ownership offered players the choice if they wanted to play or wait until a bubble was in place, a team spokesman said.
LA Force has plenty of weapons to burst any team's bubble, namely Cristian Gordillo Moreno, who has four goals in the tournament.
In Monday's 2-1 victory over the Cosmos, Moreno scored along with Danny Trejo to put the Force atop of Group B. Goalkeeper Hugo Gomez preserved the win with an artful leg stop on Geo Alves' header in the 19th minute and denying Isaac Acuna on a penalty kick in the 63rd.
LA has some unresolved issues heading into Wednesday's semi.
In Monday's match, stalwart midfielder Cyro Reis de Oliveiro left in the first half with what appeared to be a hamstring injury while defender Erick Villatoro was red-carded after receiving a second yellow, which would rule him out for Wednesday's match.
NISA has rescinded yellow cards in the tournament, including one issued to the Michigan Stars' Alexander Satrustegui in a 2-2 draw against New Amsterdam FC Thursday. Satrustegui received two yellows within two minutes and was red-carded started in the Stars' next match against Oakland.
Remy Tazifor later received a red card and the Stars played with nine players against New Amsterdam.