Hoppenot's goal gives DCFC 1-0 win in first USL home game
Hamtramck — Freezing rain, gusting wind and 50-degree temps may have changed Detroit City FC's path to victory on Saturday, but it certainly didn't dampen the mood at Keyworth Stadium as Le Rouge secured a 1-0 victory over Charleston Battery in front of 5,334 in the club's first USL Championship home game.
Antoine Hoppenot scored the winner for DCFC (1-1-0) in the 49th minute to make his home debut a memorable one and team veteran Nate Steinwascher made a massive save in stoppage time — Charleston's only shot on target the entire game — to seal the win.
Hoppenot is playing his first season with the club after spending three years with the USL's Louisville City.
"It's incredible," Hoppenot said of the atmosphere at Keyworth. "It's loud, I can't hear anything, it's the way that I like it. It makes it real. It makes it true. Sometimes you play games where there's no one there and (these fans) make it real. It feels like a real professional game."
Maxi Rodriguez took a shot on goal that was saved by a sprawling Joe Kuzminsky, but the Charleston keeper deflected the ball right to Hoppenot, who will forever have the distinction of scoring DCFC's first goal in the USL.
"He's had two good performances so far this season," DCFC manager Trevor James said of Hoppenot. "If it was going to finish to anybody in that area, Antoine's the one you want to finish it to, because he will finish it."
Steinwascher prevented the fans — and players — from going home in a much different mood with his save in stoppage time. The ball got through defenseman and team captain Stephen Carroll and landed right on the foot of Mauro Cichero; Steinwascher challenged, made the save, and then corralled the loose ball to stop the threat.
It was Steinwascher's only recorded save of the game.
"(I was) fortunate to get my body in a good spot," Steinwascher said of the save. "I just had to track that all the way into the air. I didn't know where I was for a second and then I picked it up. ... I'm happy to make the save and contribute."
After the first 10 minutes, it looked like DCFC might be in for a long night. Charleston controlled much of the play and was getting its chances, including a free kick that bent around the DCFC defenders and rang off the post in the 6th minute.
Charleston ended the game with 21 interceptions on the day, with DCFC finishing with just six.
James said that the heightened emotion of playing in its first USL home game hurt DCFC early on, but was happy with how the team settled in — even though he thinks it played better in a 1-0 loss last week at San Antonio.
"It's obviously exciting, but more emotional for a lot of people. I think the players were aware of that emotion," James said. "I think that affected the first 20 minutes, because we were still sitting in the locker room for 20 minutes."
DCFC had three shots on target compared to one from Charleston and won eight corners, with Charleston winning just two.
Aidan Apodaca (6'), Matthew Sheldon (38') and Cichero (84') all received yellow cards, as Charleston finished with 18 fouls.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.