Saturday evening at Cass Tech was all about winning. The team won; the supporters won; and youth soccer in Detroit won.
In front of 3,561 supporters, Detroit City FC cruised to a 5-0 victory over the Madison 56ers in a night dedicated to supporting Detroit PAL soccer programs. With this win, Le Rouge now leads the Midwest Region of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) with a 3-1-1 record, leapfrogging Lansing United for the top spot.
For DCFC forward Will Mellors-Blair (Michigan), the matchup was one of his best. Just when it seemed like Madison had some momentum in the second half, Mellors-Blair fired back. In the 66th minute, with acres of space in front of him, the speedy forward broke away from the pack, needing to get past just one more defender before the goalkeeper. He slotted the ball beyond Madison goalkeeper Joe White for DCFC’s third goal of the night.
“It was me versus the last defender,” Mellors-Blair said. “And he tried to get his body in the way of the ball, but I managed to get around him and put it away for the goal.”
For the 56ers’ defense, they weren’t done with Mellors-Blair just yet.
Just seven minutes later, he was at it again, this time hurdling onto a through ball from David Edwardson (Heddon FC). Mellors-Blair sped onward and tucked away his second goal. He was substituted out of the game soon after, but his pair of goals, and his overall threatening presence in the attacking third, earned him the M1 Imaging Man of the Match award on Saturday.
At this point in the match, DCFC held a 4-0 lead over Madison, getting the first couple before the halftime break. In the 32nd minute Cyrus Saydee (Michigan State) collected a deep cross on the edge of the penalty area before dribbling forward. Saydee weaved in and out of the Madison defense and rocketed the ball inside the near post. His quick shot caught the goalkeeper off guard, and put Le Rouge on the board.
The second goal came eight minutes later, when James Murphy (Michigan) delivered a high cross from the left flank. Tyler Channell (Saginaw Valley State) rose above the goalkeeper to head the ball into the goal. The packed bleachers at Cass Tech never quieted down, and as the game came to a close, the DCFC faithful were given another reason to celebrate, when Matt Ybarra (Detroit) shot through a gap in the 56ers’ defense for his first-ever DCFC goal.
Le Rouge excelled on both sides of the ball. The offense, of course, was top-class. Five different goals from four different scorers paved the way for the landslide win, but the defense refused to let up as well, notching the first shutout of the 2015 campaign.
“We were very good overall for 90 minutes, but there were some lapses that we just have to make sure we do better defensively on,” said DCFC coach Ben Pirmann. “It was the first shutout of the season, and we’ve got to move from there and keep going forward. Our goal is to make playoffs, win playoffs, and win every game we play. We’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
The highlight in the defensive third arrived just after the start of the second half. Madison midfielder Andrew Whalen’s diving header came powering toward the frame, but City goalkeeper Bret Mollon (Temple) reacted to the close-range chance for the tremendous save.
Off the field, the unique occasion helped raise money for Detroit PAL, a non-profit organization that helps children build life skills through academic, athletic, and leadership activities. Le Rouge donned customized jerseys that were auctioned off during the game, and the proceeds went to Detroit PAL.
“It’s wonderful we can get these jerseys, have a good auction, and raise money for the organization,” Mellors-Blair said. “The crowd came out in the thousands again, and we can’t thank them enough for that. It’s really special here.”
DCFC travels to play the Minnesota United Reserves this weekend, and then returns home Wednesday, June 17 for a friendly matchup with the Columbus Crew College Program.