Last year's 3-0 Bucks drubbing is now firmly in the rear view mirror as Detroit City gritted out a tough penalty shootout win to ear their first ever US Open Cup victory. This year's version was much more competitive than last year's ever was. Michigan Bucks, while having some early momentum, were unable to put anything past the brick wall that was Detroit City's stout defense and the goalkeeping of Evan Lauro. The opening volley of chances wasn't all that threatening and City soon stabilized to get some possession of their own.
City may very well have been the better side for much of the second half. It wasn't until the waning moments when the Bucks rattled off five corners in a row that they even looked like scoring. Nothing came from those opportunities and extra time loomed.
The Bucks were firmly in control for the bonus half hour. City's fatigue was showing. They weren't able to get to loose balls. When they did get to them, they didn't have the energy to burst up the pitch with a counter attack. Another string of late corners before the end of extra time showed that the back line still had gas in the tank. They didn't allow much of anything despite being over run by orange and white shirts in the penalty area.
Other than the stone wall that was Lauro, my man of the match goes to Seb Harris. The center back was always in the right place at the right time to provide a timely tackle or interception. He even started the penalty shootout with a bang after the Bucks opened with a miss.
As for the shootout, it was the Evan Lauro show. He made a pair of saves, including one in the sixth round that set up Brett Nason's winner. Bedlam soon followed as the Northern Guard, complete with smoke and singing, stormed the pitch in celebration.
DCFC now moves on to face Louisville City next Wednesday in the second round of the tournament.
But this match was about more than just a first round win in the US Open Cup. It was about a thriving grassroots soccer culture standing up in the face of the MLS big wigs looking to come to town. I'll have more on that over at Last Word on Sports tomorrow morning, but it's safe to say that the culture vs. money war will be on for the entire NPSL season and beyond.