Detroit City FC takes advantage of early breaks to earn victory over Loudoun

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Hamtramck — There was a time, early on in Detroit City FC's match against Loudoun United FC at Keyworth Stadium on Saturday night, when it looked like Le Rouge could be in for a letdown game.

After all, the club was playing its third match in eight days and coming off a heartbreaking loss via penalty kicks to Louisville City in the U.S. Open Cup.

Antoine Hoppenot

But then DCFC found a little luck. Le Rouge scored three times in a span of 12 minutes Saturday to close the first half and take a stranglehold on the game before going on to take the victory, 4-2.

Pato Botello Faz and Michael Bryant each scored their third goals of the USL Championship season, Maxi Rodriguez scored his second and Antoine Hoppenot added two assists for DCFC (7-2-2). Rhys Williams also had an assist and DCFC took a 1-0 lead off an own goal by Loudoun (2-8-1).

Skage Lehland in the 68th minute scored for Loudoun, which didn't go down without a fight. A slow start, along with several chances during the second half and another goal from Grant Lillard in stoppage time, put a sour taste in DCFC's mouth.

"It was a strange game, wasn't it?" DCFC manager Trevor James said. "It was a bit of a pleasant surprise to get the goals as we did, and (it was) not the best performance tonight. First half was OK, second half was not very good for us, so that's a lot of tape we've gotta look at."

Antoine Hoppenot won a ball near the end line and fed it to the middle, where Lillard accidentally blasted it into his own net to give DCFC a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute.

"I think that (goal) was huge," Hoppenot said. "If you go out, and you go down 1-0 against a team like this, the game is exponentially harder. I think we played really poorly in the first 30 minutes, we get a goal, and they kind of made a couple mistakes, we got two more, and we're up 3-0 at halftime, but that's not how the first half went.

"I think we were a little lucky to be up three; I think we were a little bit lucky to be up at all."

In the 39th minute, DCFC went back on the attack. Hoppenot sent a cross to Botello Faz, who settled the ball down with his right foot before sending it home off the bounce for his third of the USL Championship season.

"They do seem to have a bit of chemistry," James said of Botello Faz and Hoppenot. "They do seem to play off each other well. They've both got the same sort of mentality as far as fiery characters and they're quite intense when they play."

And during first-half stoppage time, a hard shot from Maxi Rodriguez was saved to create a corner kick. Bryant finished it off with a nifty maneuver that put DCFC in cruise control heading into halftime and gave Hoppenot his second assist of the game.

Bryant, who played center-back in Tuesday's Open Cup match and up front on Saturday against Loudoun, has become DCFC's utility man as of late.

"No matter where I go, I kind of have that mentality of, 'I'm going to give it my all,' " Bryant said. "I know what I'm doing out there and any place you put me, I will get it done. That's my mentality going into it."

Rodriguez, who scored three goals in DCFC's last two Open Cup games, scored in the 53rd minute for his first USL Championship goal since March 26. Rodriguez fired off a feed from Williams, and the shot deflected off a defender and into the net.

Loudoun's best first-half chance came in the 28th minute with Nate Steinwascher far out of position, when Lehland took a point-blank shot off a pass from Theodore Ku-Dipietro that was stopped by the chest of DCFC defender Devon Amoo-Mensah.

"All of (the defenders) have made goal-saving blocks at some time this year, they're all willing to put their bodies in front of the goal to save it," Hoppenot said. "It really gives us attacking guys a really good opportunity to get a goal if we're still tied at zero."

Lehland would later get on the scoresheet, firing home a centering pass from Jacob Greene in the 68th minute to spoil Steinwascher's clean sheet. Loudoun didn't go down without a fight; Kristian Fletcher almost cut the deficit in half with a header chance that was saved by Steinwascher in the 72nd minute, and Lehland sent a hard shot over the crossbar moments later.

Lillard added his goal in the second minute of stoppage time to make it a 4-2 final.