Grand Rapids FC took over Fifth Third Ballpark on Saturday evening against Detroit City FC. Unfortunately for the Boys in Blue, a missed penalty kick at the end of the first half turned out to be a crucial missed opportunity as two goals from Le Rouge in the second half spelled defeat for Grand Rapids.
In the opening half, it was Detroit City dictating the tempo of the match. A number of saves from goalkeeper Noah Fazekas and some help from the woodwork allowed for Grand Rapids to stay in the match.
Fazekas came up with saves in the 13th minute and 38th minute, while a header by Detroit in the 27th minute bounced off the bar.
Despite the constant pressure from Le Rouge, Grand Rapids had the best chance of the first half when Jalen Rodriguez earned a penalty kick after being taken down by the Detroit goalkeeper.
Stepping up to the spot, Scott Doney’s attempt to the bottom right corner was saved and the follow-up shot by Anthony Bowie was also turned aside as the game remained scoreless heading into the halftime break.
“We had a poor half. They had a lot of possession, we failed to win the first and second ball, so they dominated the aerial game, and they found a little bit of a rhythm,” said head coach George Moni. “Still, the game is strange and we had the penalty, and it didn’t go our way. That could have shifted the momentum, that could have given us a lot more energy coming into the second half.”
Out of the break, both teams had chances on goal but could not open up the scoring.
Key defensive plays by Cam Cavanagh and Nick Abdoo stopped a dangerous Detroit City attack in the 51st minute. On the other end, a cross from Alex Mendez was play toward goal by Anthony Bowie but was stopped by the visiting keeper in the 61st minute.
In the 62nd minute, Detroit City found the space they needed to break the tie. A ball was swung in from near midfield by Tyrone Mondi to the top of the box where it found the head of Shawn Lawson, who nodded it over Fazekas for a 1-0 lead to the visitors.
In the 74th minute, Le Rouge found a second goal as a sharply hit shot slipped through the GRFC defense and into the back of the net.
The Boys in Blue could not find an answer in the remaining quarter-hour, and dropped the match 2-0.
“From this point on we need to regroup. We cannot just concentrate too much on the past or in the future,” said Moni. “We need to work on our daily operations – if we do that, one day at a time, I think we’re going to bounce back and find the strength to fight. I think we learned a lot from the past, and hopefully we get those lessons and improve ourselves in the remaining games.”
Grand Rapids FC returns to action next Saturday, June 24, when it travels to Lansing United for a 7:00 p.m. contest.