FC Motown Claims East Region Championship, Advances to National Semifinals
By Kristian Dyer/NPSL.com
FC Motown won the NPSL East Region Final with a thorough and emphatic 3-0 win over Appalachian FC. For a club that has been among the best in the region for the past few years, it is certainly one of the most complete performances the club has ever had.
FC Motown survived a rocky start to the match to play tight defensively. They kept their shape in the midfield and moved forward well into the attacking third. Appalachian FC struggled with their own shape as FC Motown overlapped and stretched the field, overrunning the visitors in the midfield.
A goal midway through the first half helped FC Motown gain some momentum and propelled the home side against a feisty and spirited Appalachian FC.
FC Motown went ahead in the 27th minute via right back Samuel Pompée. Danny Cordeiro, one of the midfield engines for FC Motown, settled the ball at the top of the Appalachian FC box. With his left foot, Cordeiro sprung a diagonal ball to Joseph Holland, who found Pompée making a deep overlapping run.
On the right side of the box, Pompée fired a right-footed shot from a tight angle that tucked inside the far post. For the Haitian international, it was his first goal of the season.
After a rough start to the match where Appalachian FC forced the run of play, FC Motown slowly settled in. The well-taken goal from their right back tipped the game towards the home side.
“We had to just tell them to wake up because that’s not how we play,” FC Motown head coach Gideon Baah said. “We always get the ball rolling but you know, we didn’t start off quite right.
“We had to remind them that this is a final and they have to put the pieces together and they responded well,” Baah added. “They cut down their passing lanes, cut down the supply from the back end. I think it worked well. They worked their way into the game.”
Baah is a former Ghanian international who played two seasons for the New York Red Bulls.
The visitors started off on the front foot, putting together a smattering of opportunities and half-chances. They were the more dominant side for the match’s opening 12 minutes.
They pressed, won second balls, and nearly took an early lead just moments into the fixture.
In the third minute, FC Motown goalkeeper David Greczek did well to push away a 20-yard free kick from Max Landau. Then in the eighth minute, a Landau free kick from 40 yards out found a runner into the box, but Angelo Fabricio’s header went wide right.
“That was the plan coming in,” Appalachian FC head coach Dale Parker said after the match. “Can we press well early, disrupt any kind of flow that they were going to get into? I think a few things went our way and decisions in those first 12 minutes and we forced the issue.”
“But then I think once the match settled in, I think they started to see some of the weaknesses that perhaps we have and that they’ve seen when they scouted us and they took advantage of one or two of those moments,” Parker continued. “You could see the game kind of change. And then you fall victim sometimes and you’re overstretching and feeling like you should have had a decision go your way.”
The match was played on the campus of Drew University, a facility where FC Motown has found a lot of success over the years in NPSL action.
Fixture congestion, fatigue, and travel surely played their part as Appalachian FC’s strong start gave way to weary legs.
It took until the 13th minute for the home side to start cooking, forcing Appalachian State goalkeeper Lucas Daunhauer into three saves in a span of three minutes. And in the 37th minute, Daunhauer was forced into a diving save when he did well to deny a 10-yard effort from FC Motown’s Joseph Fala.
Against the backdrop of a hot and humid evening, much of the match was chippy and physical. The intensity, not surprising given the importance of this match, lasted for the full 90 minutes.
Fala, who but for several key saves from Daunhauer in goal, scored in the 70th minute and Holland added a goal four minutes later to ice the game for the home side.
Holland was influential throughout the match. The attacking midfielder looked dangerous, stretched the field with his runs, made smart passes, and brought some quality work rate to FC Motown on the night.
“Listen, I always say we are not trying to win,” Baah concluded. “I say [that] we are winning it so it’s that level of optimism that we have from the group, from the staff, and from the guys at the top. We are not coming in to just partake or participate. We’re just playing to win. We just want to win the cup.”
It was the first major title for Baah as a head coach. The former MLS center back is in his first season with FC Motown, having taken over this spring for the very successful Sacir Hot.
Photo Credit: Kristian Dyer/NPSL.com