Tyrone Mondi plays hero again scores in the 90th+ minute as Detroit City goes on to beat nine-man AFC Ann Arbor 3-2 in the Midwest Region Final in front of 6,409 fans.
City battled against a scrappy down but not out Ann Arbor side that won 1-0 over the Dayton Dynamo the day before on a last-minute free kick. Detroit had won by a combined 10-3 over two NPSL North sides to get to the championship game.
Play started to pick up in the 16th minute when AFC Ann Arbor’s Hector Morales found a loose ball in the Detroit box and swept a ball towards the net. But keeper Fernando Piña was game to punch the ball out of harm’s way. Kaleb Jackson came back with a comeback shot that was saved by Piña as well for a corner kick.
Detroit’s goal came in the 36th minute through an interesting string of play. Forward Jordan Tyler stole the ball from Tendai Jirira on the right wing and cut towards the net. His shot was saved by Ann Arbor’s TJ Tomasso. The ensuing corner from Mondi was knocked over to defender Zach Bock. Bock quickly headed the ball into the box, where Jordan Tyler and an Ann Arbor defender both swung at the ball. It appeared to be an own goal at first, but Tyler raced out for the celebration, and Le Rouge ran out to a 1-0 lead.
In the 41st, Yuri Farkas cut into the Detroit box and fired a low shot into the box that was easily scooped up by Piña. Three minutes later, Ann Arbor’s Sam Zisette was called for a yellow card as he wheeled around to clear a ball right in front of the Mighty Oak’s box.
In the ensuing free kick, Omar Sinclair stepped up and pushed a free kick right and smacked it into the back of the net, past a frozen Tomasso to make it 2-0 Detroit. Sinclair had earlier curled a ball over the left side of the net, and as a result Ann Arbor’s defense played him for the curl.
In the 55th minute, AFC’s Jake Rufe would pick up a yellow card on Cyrus Saydee as he looked to stop the Detroit fast break. City almost tacked on a goal four minutes later as Tomasso had to leave the box to clear a ball from Saydee. That almost certainly would have ended in a third Detroit goal.
The game got worse for Ann Arbor 11 minutes later, as Kwesi “Jep” Allen was whistled for a straight red card after a two-footed tackle on Bakie Goodman. What would have been a yellow and a shaming from the official quickly turned to red as Allen’s second foot popped up and took out Goodman, who laid on the ground in obvious pain.
In the 76th minute, AFC Ann Arbor struck back when Jirira stole the ball off of a Detroit player, and raced around the left end of Detroit’s defense. Jirira jinked into the box and fired a low ball that skirted underneath Piña’s legs to make it 2-1.
The Mighty Oak would be back in the game as Alec Lasinski, a former DCFC player, found a long ball from the AFC backline. Lasinski chested the ball down, and fired a low missile from the left wing into the lower right corner to make 2-2 in the 81st.
The game kind of slowed down and went to both teams trying to take possession of the ball. Detroit ended up getting the final goal when an AFC clearance was knocked out and Goodman was there to head it back into the box. Mondi hit a low skipping volley past a diving Tomasso in the 90th+ minute to make it 3-2.
Soon after Rufe picked up his second yellow and was issued his walking papers after he took down a City player with a foul. That pushed Ann Arbor to nine men and severely crippled their incredible comeback effort.
With the win, Detroit City moves on to their first-ever national semifinal in their eight-year history. Their previous attempt was thwarted after losing to the Erie Admirals (now Commodores) in 2013.
With the results from around the league, City will host Midland-Odessa FC, who defeated Inter Nashville FC in the South Region Final.