Lansing United knew it had to count on its big-time players to deliver Saturday night in Grand Rapids.
Its top two goal scorers came through.
James DeCosemo and Rafa Mentzingen each scored twice as United left the west side of the state with three points in a 4-2 victory over Grand Rapids FC at Houseman Field. The club’s four goals were the most it has ever scored in an away match.
“The guys turned on the style today,” United head coach Nate Miller said. “There were some beautiful goals, well-worked goals. I thought the first half was phenomenal with how we broke them down. All the credit goes to the guys, they were great.”
After taking 10 or so minutes to work their way into the match, United turned it up halfway through the first half and broke through as DeCosemo tallied his first of the match in the 26th minute. Brad Centala won the ball from a Grand Rapids player and sent it to DeCosemo who beat the keeper to his left from the top of the box. The goal was DeCosemo’s 10th as he became just the second player ever to reach double digit career goals with the club.
“The first goal was perfect, straight from a press and James was in between the center backs,” Miller said. “It was a great goal.”
A little more than 10 minutes later, the leading goal scorer in the Midwest Region made his presence known once again. Mentzingen received a pass from Centala, who started the play by dangling his way through multiple GRFC defenders, and put it in the back the net. Centala earned his second assist of the night, making him just the fourth United player to record two in a match.
The two goals – featuring hard pressing and strong transition play – were key components of United’s training sessions leading up to the match.
“Nate has been telling us everyday, transition is key,” Mentzingen said. “On turf, it’s a faster game and you have to be able to have a good counterattack.”
United closed out the first half with a huge save by Joe White to keep it 2-0. The keeper was forced into an all-out dive to his left in reaction to a shot by Grand Rapids’ Anthony Bowie and managed to get a palm on the attempt.
GR struck early in the second half thanks to a Jalen Rodriguez goal, but United roared back in the 62nd minute as Mentzingen scored his second of the match and ninth of the season. It was one of the best goals of the United season to date, beginning with a perfect DeCosemo flick-on to Tumi Moshobane and ended with Mentzingen blowing it past the keeper on the first touch.
DeCosemo’s fourth of 2017 came 11 minutes later as he put home a perfect Alec Greene pass to make it 4-1.
“We’ve been working on it in practice,” DeCosemo said of his second goal. “Alec has timed the ball perfectly. I’m glad we came out with all three points.”
Rodriguez scored his second of the match for GR in the 76th minute, but it wasn’t enough for the home side as United walked away with the victory.
“We’re halfway through the season and we’ve put ourselves in a great spot,” Miller said. “These guys have always stepped up. Everyone put in a big shift, I’m proud of our guys.”