Kalamazoo FC played host to Detroit City FC on Sunday, May 22, for a clash between the league’s newest team and its most established. Kalamazoo entered the game at 0-1-1, still searching for their first win, while Detroit sat at one win and two draws, hoping to avoid their first loss.
Sunny and 72 degrees in Kalamazoo , it was a beautiful night, as almost 1,600 fans turned out to the 2,200-seat stadium, which included an impressive traveling support group from DCFC’s Northern Guard.
The first half started cagey, though a shot from Kalamazoo’s Amadou Cisse rang off the crossbar to KZFC the first real look at getting on the score sheet 30 minutes into the game. KZFC continued the pressure and seemed to be on the Detroit side of the field for most of the first half. Finally, two minutes into added time, the home team broke through when Brandon Bye brought down a long distance throw-in from Lou Plascencia with his chest, then volleyed the ball into the net to take a 1-0 lead heading into the half.
Just four minutes into the second half, KZFC doubled their lead as right back Hunter Vandenboom caught a cross that bounced through the DCFC defense, then cut a quick cross back to Kalamazoo’s Heiko Leinweber, who volleyed the ball into the net from the six-yard line.
In the 57th minutes, Detroit’s Cyrus Saydee was brought down at the edge of the box and awarded a penalty kick, which he slotted in to bring the score to 2-1. Just four minutes later, a diving TJ Stephens caught a cross from Seb Harris to head home the equalizing goal.
The two teams traded punches in the ensuing minutes, but in the 73rd minutes, striker Jay McInstosh cut back at the top of the 18 and laid a pass off to Brock Fitzgerald, who took a touch to his left and then blasted a low shot into the back of the net to reclaim the lead.
The hometown fans erupted at the sound of the final whistle; the score 3-2.
Coach Lumumba Shabazz was all smiles after the game, but admitted that there is a lot of work to be done.
“We showed that we have the ability to control a game, but we can let our guard down too,” said the head coach referring to the two return goals in under five minutes that DCFC netted. “Still,” he continued, “this is a big win for us and is very encouraging for our first season.”
Next week, Kalamazoo FC hosts Dayton Dynamo as Detroit City FC prepares for an international friendly against FC United of Manchester.