Detroit City FC 1-2 AFC Cleveland
Detroit City FC's second playoff appearance did not go as planned as, despite late desperation efforts, the fall to AFC Cleveland by a 2-1 score in Madison, Wisconsin.
Things did not start well for Le Rouge as they went down after only six minutes were played. Brian Potocnik put the Midwest's third seeded team up with a well placed shot that banked off the post an in past Alex Bouillennec. City had the better of possession for the majority of the first half, and well into the second, but they never really threatened on goal.
During hte first half, the referee made an... interesting move towards the travelling band of City supporters in Madison. He was evidently unable to cope with the standard level of criticism from the Rouge Rovers and threatenedd to have them removed from the stadium if they kept it up. I guess he either toughened up, or realized that kicking them out would only make things worse, because the referee bashing didn't exactly stop as the game went on.
Despite the shower of singing from the 20 or so supporters behind the bench, in the 75th minute, disaster struck for Detroit City again as Cleveland scored on a counter attack to go up by a 2-0 score. Charlie MacInnes got City back into the game with a determined efford right after the kickoff. He beat the Cleveland keeper to a long ball forward and, after getting denied once, tapped home an easy goal.
The final ten minutes were a frenzy of mostly Rouge attacks. Zach Schewee nearly equalized a couple minutes later after as he was barely unable to get to a MacInnes header across the goal. MacInnes almost had his second in the 85th as he had a shot stopped by the Cleveland keeper.
In the end, nothing was enough as Cleveland held off any Detroit City attack. They advance to this afternoon's final to play FC Indiana for the right to go to the NPSL National Championship.
The 2015 campaign was a memorable one for Le Rouge. It opened with a 3-0 defeat in a landscape defining US Open Cup match in Ponitac's tin can against Michigan Bucks. It featured record crowds of well over 3,000 supporters for every regular season home game. Will Mellors-Blair became the club's all time leading goal scorer with a pair of goals against Michigan Stars. From the home opener that ended in Seb Harris's thrilling winner, to the regular season home finale being spoiled by Erie, it was a season of memories for Le Rouge and it's dedicated supporters.
What lies in wait for Detroit City? There is still the thought that a new, larger stadium is in the works for the future. As crowds set records in 2015, the club has clearly outgrown the friendly confines of Cass Technical High School. Is a change in league also on the horizon? The growth of the club also has led to talks about Le Rouge becoming a fully professional club and joining the always expanding second tier NASL, or the MLS stooges of the USL in the third tier. Regardless of which league they play in, or which field their matches happen on, I am excited for the 2016 season. The atmosphere at these matches is one of the most unique experiences someone can be a part of, and next year cannot come soon enough.