Detroit City overcomes sputtering offense to earn tie against Pittsburgh

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Hamtramck — It was a tale of two halves for Detroit City Football Club on Saturday, but a strong push in the second half couldn't overcome a slow start in the first as Le Rouge played to a 1-1 draw against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Keyworth Stadium.

Maxi Rodriguez scored a penalty kick in the 73rd minute for Le Rouge (1-1-1) to finally break through after a number of close chances to tie the score went unfinished.

Maxi Rodriguez

While DCFC actually exited the first half with an edge in time of possession, it wasn't able to turn that into scoring chances, heading to the locker room without a single shot on goal. Pittsburgh (2-0-1) had three shots on target, including a goal from Albert Dikwa in the 18th minute.

"I think we just still (are) getting used to the physical side of the game," DCFC manager Trevor James said. "We couldn't really create anything (early on), we couldn't get anything into the final third. We got some good ball in their half, but we didn't really get any opportunities."

DCFC responded by putting an extra forward to help translate the possession into high-quality scoring chances.

The second half started with a flurry of grade-A looks for DCFC: A left-footed shot from Rhys Williams that went high; a header from Connor Rutz that was stopped by Pittsburgh goalkeeper Kevin Silva; and a point-blank shot from Stephen Carroll that sailed over the crossbar.

"I think we were happy that we were finally possessing in the right areas," Rodriguez said. "We were just eager to get an opportunity to score a goal and luckily it came, but I think it's something that we can build on."

Rodriguez said DCFC must learn to find its groove earlier in games.

"We've got to start games better and kind of break down teams, and kind of understand what the game needs earlier," Rodriguez said. "Thankfully we came up the second half, kind of first step forward, and got a goal from it.

"...We can't wait for the 45th minute to get going. I think if we can start from the whistle, I think we can beat teams or put ourselves in a better position to beat teams."

Rodriguez's penalty kick followed Antoine Hoppenot, the hero of last week's home opener, getting chopped down from behind in the box.

Pittsburgh's goal came in the 18th minute off of a corner kick. Pato Batello Faz cleared a weak header off the line, but couldn't muster much on the attempt as Dikwa was waiting right there to give the Riverhounds a lead.

James said that he was "satisfied" with a draw because of the way that his team started the game. DCFC's two goals-against so far this season have come on a penalty kick and a set piece, which he said is an encouraging sign for the defense and goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher.

"Apart from that (corner), I thought they did quite well," James said. "I don't think there was too many opportunities for Pittsburgh in the game."

Pittsburgh has yet to lose a game this season and finished third in the USL's Atlantic division a season ago.

"It's a learning lesson," Rodriguez said. "That's a good side. I think we're going to create a rivalry with them, so I'm just thankful we got a point, but unfortunately, we didn't get a win."

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.