Detroit City 3-2 AFC Cleveland
The NPSL opener went much better for Le Rouge than the midweek clash against Michigan Bucks. Seb Harris broke a 2-2 deadlock in the 88th minute to give all three points to City and sent 3,012 supporters home happy.
The opening of the match was a massive improvement over how things started on Wednesday. Detroit City had early possession and it led to early chances. The best of which came in the eighth minute from Javier Bautista. Bautista collected a ball at the top of the box and fired it towards the Cleveland goal, only to find the crossbar.
City's possession was coupled well with responsible goalkeeping from Brett Mollon. He was alert in reaching any Cleveland through balls they tried to play.
Rouge and Gold smoke, which was not allowed inside Ultimate Soccer Arenas, made its return to the match in the 19th minute. Colin McAtee worked a wonderful give and go with Bautista into the Cleveland penalty area. McAtee got the final ball and slid it home beyond the diving Anthony Flowers to give City the offensive reward they deserved.
The lead would only last until the 35th minute when Cleveland's Sergio Manesio slotted a shot past Mollon on the far post to level the score at one. It was a lapse in transition defense for Le Rouge, as they really could have gotten back faster to cover the attack. Manesio only had one man to beat in the end.
City would get the lead back seven minutes later courtesy of William Mellors-Blair and they would take a 2-1 lead into halftime.
After the break, Cleveland wasted no time getting back on the level. In the first minute of the second half, City's weak defending in the penalty area allowed a cross to reach Tom Beck's head on the far post and into the back of the net.
The rest of the half saw both sides trade minor blows. Cleveland got forward a few times and threatened with free kicks in attacking areas, but none tested Mollon much. Their best chance came in the 66th when Manesio came a couple feet away from his second of the match. His low shot towards the far post bumbled wide, One shot that did test the City keeper came five minutes from time. It was Manesio getting free in the penalty area again, but his shot went straight at Mollon.
City secured the three points when they were awarded a corner in the 88th minute. Cyrus Saydee took the in-swinging ball that found the head of Seb Harris. The ball powered through Flowers and into the goal, sending Cass Tech into mayhem. The final whistle blew shortly after.
This was a much better showing from Le Rouge. They were allowed to play their game early on, unlike on Wednesday night. They were responsible in possession and they never turned the ball over in the midfield. The defense was strong, but they slipped up a bit in the transition game. The attack was the overall high point of the match. Three goals, and inches away from a fourth, is usually enough to defeat any team.
Next for Le Rouge, they travel to face FC Buffalo in another Rust Belt Trophy clash next Saturday. AFC Cleveland stays in the Detroit area to play Michigan Stars in Dearborn on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the NPSL tonight:
Miami Fusion 2-0 Weston FC
Liverpool Warriors 0-5 Corinthians FC of San Antonio
FC Wichita 0-1 Joplin Demize FC