Steinwascher sensational in Detroit City FC's 1-0 win over Birmingham Legion FC

Nolan Bianchi
Special to The Detroit News

Detroit City FC goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher has been very good all season.

But he was sensational on Friday night at Keyworth Stadium against Birmingham Legion FC, making five saves — with a few that will land him on the highlight reel — to help DCFC to a 1-0 win.

"I think the biggest thing for us is defending the way we know how to defend," Steinwascher said. "There's going to be a lot of really good teams in this league, and we know that. ... Different players are a little tricker, different players are a little stronger, so just adapting to that.

"(It's just) working on that, trusting in ourselves and having confidence in the way we know how to play."

Detroit City FC goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher kicks the ball to a teammate against Chattanooga FC during the second half.

DCFC's next match (Tuesday) is a big one: Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew to comes to town to face Le Rouge at Keyworth in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. DCFC toppled the Michigan Stars, 3-0, in its second-round matchup.

DCFC manager Trevor James said that he was happy the impending showdown didn't distract Le Rouge from pulling out the result.

"We've talked about that, really, about, let's keep the run going," James said. "Let's do all we can to get the three points, and we've tried to focus on that. Do I think they haven't thought about Tuesday?

"No, I'm not that naive to know that they see the game coming. But it didn't affect them tonight. And I asked them to don't let Tuesday affect you, because if you do that, we won't get a result tonight."

Le Rouge (3-2-1) again rebounded from a lackluster opening half, riding a goal from Antoine Hoppenot in the 63rd minute to the victory. Pato Botello-Faz placed a perfect downfield header for Maxi Rodriguez, who executed a cross that was slammed home by a sliding Hoppenot.

Steinwascher was called on heavily to keep the game scoreless both in the first half (when Birmingham landed two shots on target to DCFC's zero) and the second. 

Friday's win is the second clean sheet for DCFC in USL Championship play and third overall. Le Rouge beat Atlanta United II 4-0 on Saturday night and has won its last three games by a combined score of 8-0.

"Confidence always gets boosted when you win 4-0, no matter who the opponent is," said Rhys Williams, who was named Man of the Match. "Coming into this game, I think we're kind of riding this wave, trying to keep the confidence high, and it kind of bled into this game, and we got the result."

Steinwascher's biggest save of the game on Birmingham (1-3-3) came on a header within a few feet of the goal from Anderson Asiedu in the 56th minute.

DCFC was lucky to escape the first half with a scoreless match. Birmingham’s Jonathan Dean blew a point-blank chance during injury time in the first half. Mikey Lopez executed a perfect through ball to Dean in the box, and he simply blew it wide of the net.

That came just a few minutes after Steinwascher stumped Birmingham. In the 42nd minute, he made an athletic play to swat away a ball away that was earmarked for the upper-right corner. 

Birmingham nearly tied the game in the 78th minute. Lopez received a perfect through ball and was in all alone, but Steinwascher ran out to meet him at the ball, threw his body at it, and was able to get a leg on it as the chance bounced away.

"The biggest thing is just staying in the game the whole time and reading it as it's going across your goal and trying to meet it the best you can," Steinwascher said. "As soon as the ball gets played, you've just gotta (have) quick feet and try to get there before him. If you can't, you've just gotta make yourself big and make the save."

Matt Lewis gave DCFC its first shot on target during the 50th minute. Lewis weaved through a few defenders before firing a dangerous shot from outside the box that was saved by a diving Matt Van Oekel.

Birmingham ended the game with 16 shots, eight from inside the box. 

Nolan Bianchi is a freelancer writer.