Detroit City FC’s US Open Cup run ends in shootout loss to Louisville

Hamtramck – Darkness had dominated Keyworth Stadium for some time. Thirty minutes of extra time were not enough.

And the US Open Cup Round of 16 match between Detroit City FC and Louisville City FC? Well, he still needed a hero.

But that night, in the midst of a run where late-game exploits always seemed to favor the DCFC, this player was not wearing red and gold.

Goaltender Kyle Morton stopped DCFC’s Rhys Williams in the second round to give his team the lead and Louisville produced a perfect 4-on-4 to seal a 1-1 win via penalty kicks (4-2).

“A phenomenal effort from the players,” said DCFC manager Trevor James. “I’m just disappointed for them that they didn’t cross the line at the end, but you can’t find fault with their performance at all.”

DCFC’s last chance, a shot by team captain Stephen Carroll, went over the net. Thus ended a historic run in the USOC that saw Detroit City reach the knockout stages for the first time in club history and featured victory over Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew.

With some key starters struggling with injuries and others missing the game altogether, Carroll said he was proud of Tuesday’s effort and DCFC’s run (7-2-3 in all competitions).

“Obviously to beat the Columbus Crew in the last round was huge. Nobody in football expected us to do that,” Carroll said. “It’s the magic of the Cup, as they always say. It’s not a cliché, it works in that sense. The result is what it is. We felt like we deserved more, but that’s football for you.”

James added that it was difficult to prepare for the match without knowing which players would be available.

Antoine Hoppenot, Maxi Rodriguez and Pato Botello Faz all made their first appearances since suffering injuries sustained in an April 30 game against New York Red Bulls II.

“After Saturday’s game we didn’t really know where we would be tonight. Over the last day we had to piece things together,” James said. “I think all three of them did well tonight.”

DCFC were without Matt Lewis, a crucial member of their backline. Lewis suffered an undisclosed injury in Tulsa and played a major role in stopping Columbus in DCFC’s final USOC game.

Louisville (9-0-3) sits atop the USL Championship Eastern Conference table and has yet to be defeated in a game this season.

DCFC won possession (61%), shots (19-9) and shots on target (5-4)

“It obviously gives us a bit of confidence, but in Cup games anything can happen,” Carroll said. “League play is very different, so we just have to see when the games come, how we are at this stage of the league and the season.

“I don’t see why we can’t push them to their limits.”

Detroit City FC took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. Francis Atuahene was fouled in the box, giving DCFC a penalty. Rodriguez, who won the game for DCFC in their last USOC game against Columbus, shot to the bottom right corner to set Le Rouge up early.

Louisville got a free kick just outside the box in the 17th minute. A curved strike aimed for the top left corner, but a Nate Steinwascher dive arrived just in time to keep the game scoreless and further irritate the crowd.

Moments later, however, Louisville would find the equalizer. Wilson Harris scored from inside the box to level it at 1 in the 24th minute.

The match began with a five-minute silent protest by the DCFC supporters’ group, the Northern Guard. NGS was protesting the recent crackdown on profane clothing and chanting at Keyworth Stadium.

This season’s USOC marks the DCFC’s first participation via the professional team. In its four previous entries, Le Rouge entered as an amateur side, the most recent in 2018.

James said his team could feel they had created a buzz in the city of Detroit with their run.

“It was great. (The players) are aware of that. They’ve obviously done more media in the last three or four weeks than they’ve done in their entire life,” James said. “They are aware of what it means for the city and the interest in the city. It will hit them and they will be disappointed because they wanted to take it back.”

Atuahene nearly regained the momentum for DCFC two minutes after Louisville equalized, receiving a through ball that put him on his own with the keeper at a tight angle. His shot was stopped.

Steinwascher made sure Louisville’s chances down the stretch were limited. He was extremely effective in stopping lobs and crosses that went through the box, keeping the score at 1.

Steinwascher’s biggest save of the game came in overtime. Enoch Mushagalusa had a chance just yards from the goal line, but Steinwascher managed to fend it off. He finished with two saves; Louisville’s Morton finished with four.

Atuahene received a yellow card (44th) for DCFC. Corben Bone (42′) and Wilson (52′) received yellow cards for Louisville.

Botello Faz was substituted in the game during extra time for Connor Rutz. Botello Faz almost delivered the winner in the 13th minute of extra time. He received a cross from Billy Forbes which he then stole from himself before firing a shot which was saved by a diving Morton.

Devon Amoo-Mensah saved the day for DCFC in the second half of extra time, spreading out to block a close-range shot with Steinwascher scrambling.

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.

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