Detroit City FC gives stronger 90-minute performance but draws with Memphis

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Hamtramck — They pushed and pushed, got chance after chance, but at full time on Saturday at Keyworth Stadium, Detroit City FC was only able to muster a 1-1 draw with Memphis 901 FC.

Pato Botello-Faz scored the equalizer in the 73rd minute for DCFC (1-1-2) amidst a second-half push that mirrored Le Rouge’s effort in last week’s game against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which also finished as a draw.

Detroit City FC forward Patricio “Pato” Botello Faz, front, reacts after scoring a goal against Chattanooga FC during the first half.

First-half performances have been a problem for DCFC in a majority of its matches this year. While it was able to get the ball rolling a little bit earlier on Saturday, a lapse on the defensive half in the 28th minute allowed Phillip Goodrum to give Memphis (2-1-1) a 1-0 lead, which put DCFC right back to square one.

“I thought we started quite well,” DCFC manager Trevor James said. “Obviously we’ve talked about it a lot the last two, three weeks now with the boys, and they heard it again before they came out. But I thought we started well. … And then we gave a silly goal away. And that’s the frustrating part of it, because you can do all the good work, and then fall asleep for 30 seconds and you’re 1-nil down.”

Even still, DCFC dominated the second half even better than it did a week earlier — and that’s an encouraging sign for James. DCFC had 14 shots to Memphis’ nine. Four of DCFC's second-half shots landed on-target.

DCFC broke through when Rhys Williams carried the ball from midfield to the left of the box and connected with Botello-Faz on the box. Botello-Faz settled it down with his right foot, then blasted it into the upper-right corner.

“Very happy for Pato. He deserves it. He finishes all the time in training and he’s been itching to get one all season,” Williams said. “This is one of many for him.”

Botello-Faz, one of DCFC’s top scorers a season ago, was named the Man of the Match. He said that he expects DCFC to start converting more chances as the season goes on.

“It’s a brand-new team this year. There’s only six of us from last year,” he said. “So, just get everybody on the same page, what runs we’re going to make, what crosses we’re going to make, and hopefully in the next couple games or so, it’ll start coming together pretty well.”

Making the draw all that bittersweet was the man standing on the opposite end of the sideline. Memphis 901 manager Ben Pirmann, who managed DCFC from 2013-18, made his return to Keyworth Stadium for the first time since departing.

He said that up until this season, he would tell people that he roots for DCFC whenever somebody would ask him who his favorite soccer club is.

“It’s a great club, very good family-focus. They run it top-to-bottom very classy, they treat people well,” he said. “But for two hours we hate each other, we wanted to win, and we’re disappointed not to get it.”

Pirmann, who was heralded by the DCFC faithful by the phrase “Hail Caesar” during his time as DCFC, got a chuckle out of the signs that now said “Fail Caesar” upon his return.

“They were too nice. I thought they were going to be way, way, way meaner,” he said.

DCFC got involved on the offensive half much earlier than its past two games, but it still didn’t yield much. It ended the first half with 61.7% of the possession and took five shots but none of them landed on target.

Abdoulaye Diop (13th minute) and Maxi Rodriguez (40th) were issued yellow cards in the first half and Williams received another in the 68th minute while jostling for position on a corner kick. Laurent Kissiedou was issued a yellow card in the 53rd minute.

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.