Detroit City FC and Midland-Odessa FC will face off in Michigan this Saturday, with a spot in the NPSL National Championship powered by Mitre on the line.
On the line for DCFC is goalkeeper Fernando Piña, who has come up big in the back half of the season, starting in eight games and recording a clean sheet along the way. For Piña, he knows the playoffs can often come down to one moment.
“I have to stay connected for 90 minutes,” Piña said, “I have to be ready for that one big save.”
Detroit City FC had one of their top moments in club history in the regional final when Bakie Goodman’s headed pass went right to the foot of Tyrone Mondi, who promptly put it in the back of the net in extra time, giving DCFC a 3-2 win over AFC Ann Arbor. For Piña and center back Seb Harris, last Saturday’s match was something special.
“The way the game went, us going up 2-0, them tying it up…it was fun to be a part of,” Piña said.
“It was one of the best games we’ve played and it was awesome to play it at home so our supporters could enjoy it with us,” Harris said.
Le Rouge plan on using their vocal support as a boost in the semi-final.
“It’s going to be electric, playing in front of all the crazy fans,” Harris said. “It’s going to be an awesome atmosphere.”
Midfielder Andrew Moullin and Midland-Odessa FC are also planning on feeding off of the Detroit crowd.
“They have one of the best fan bases in the country,” Moullin said. “But we’re just going to enjoy the atmosphere and put in a good performance.”
“It’s going to be motivating, it’s going to keep up the intensity of the game and it should be fun,” Midland-Odessa FC winger Memo Diaz said.
Midland-Odessa FC advanced to the NPSL National Semifinals with a 1-0 victory over Inter Nashville FC with a goal from substitute Nathan Penner in the 72nd minute. For Midland-Odessa FC, winning the regional final was a special moment.
“We don’t get those kinds of chances a lot,” Diaz said on lifting the trophy. “So to do it with this group was really great.”
Even though they have now reached the national semifinal, Midland-Odessa FC is not ready to call it quits.
“At this point we’ve gone far enough that anything less than first will be hard to swallow,” Moullin said. “Obviously it’s great to be in the semifinal, we’re going to enjoy it, but we just hope this isn’t the end for us.”
If Midland-Odessa FC are able to advance, it will be because of their team-focused play.
“We focus on trying to move up and down the field as a team,” Diaz said. “It’s more about the team, not individual play…we have a lot of team players and that’s helped us all season.”
As a holding midfielder, Moullin started the season as a distributor but saw his role change throughout the season.
“At the beginning of the year I took on a role of a distributor and stayed on the ball,” Moullin said. “My role now is more making sure that we are organized in the back, playing quick and I try to get the ball to our attackers and they can go to work.”
For the players, the big stage does not add to the pressure.
“I don’t think there’s any more pressure than there has been,” Piña said. “We just want to play our game.”
“It’s the same thing it’s going to be like every other game this season,” Harris said. “If we just do what we’ve been doing all season then it’s going to come our way.”
“We’ve been treating all of these games as finals,” Diaz said. “All of these games we’ve had pressure on us but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
With both teams putting up better than two points per game during the regular season while both scoring a plethora of goals, the Saturday night matchup between Detroit City FC and Midland-Odessa FC promises to be an exciting battle with the winner punching a ticket to the NPSL National Championship powered by Mitre on August 12th.
Photo Credit: Mark Nicholas/Midland-Odessa FC and Jon DeBoer/DCFC