Grand Rapids FC Draws with Force FC 2-2 in Front of 5,012 Fans

GRFC Draws Force FC 2-2

The Boys in Blue Perform Well in Front of Record Crowd

Thousands of youth soccer players from the Grand Rapids area arrived at Houseman Field on Friday evening sporting dozens of club jerseys in a variety of colors: yellow, orange, black, red, white, and green. All came, however, in support of the Boys in Blue, who tied MPSL-side and Bloomfield-based Force FC 2-2 in a non-league match-up.

Each side saw a one-goal lead for at least a portion of the 90 minutes. Force FC nabbed the opening goal in the 17th minute, pouncing on a ball in the box and finding the back of the net. Just over ten minutes later, GRFC’s Elmedin Zukic knotted the contest at 1-1 on a well placed free kick from just outside the box.

GRFC fought all game long to work through the Force FC defense, but struggled to find much space despite holding a majority of the possession.

“The other team had a plan and they played nine guys behind the ball and they depended on the counter attack,” said Grand Rapids FC head coach George Moni. “It’s a difficult situation when one team comes and defends the whole time. It reduces space.”

The Boys in Blue then found some space early in the second half. Speedy sub Nick Abdoo received a long pass on the run in Force FC’s half, then cut past one defender to set up a 2-on-1 opportunity with forward Domenic Barone. After drawing the lone defender, Abdoo sent a pass into the box for Barone who calmly deposited the ball into the back of the net for GRFC’s first lead of the game at 2-1.

Grand Rapids then held control over the game as the clock began to tick toward final time, but Force FC had one last offensive burst. In the 87th minute, a Force FC forward got loose in the box and volleyed home a cross to tie the contest at 2-2.

“If I would sum up the night with one word it is concentration,” said Moni. “We had the game under control, we had five minutes to see it and manage it properly, and we didn’t. I thought we lacked concentration in the final third, we lacked concentration in the defending third, and if we had done better, it could have been a win for us.”

Captain Tony Deakin also noted a few moments that escaped GRFC and led to the tough 2-2 draw.

“I thought we controlled the game very well, we just didn’t take our chances tonight,” said Deakin. “We had four or five very good chances where we should be putting the ball into the back of the net, and nine times out of ten they go in. But, that’s just soccer. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t, and they scored in the last two minutes to tie it up. Feels like a loss today.”

Regardless of what felt like a disappointing result, coaches and players alike were excited to see the support that filled the southern bleachers of Houseman Field. Grand Rapids FC set another team and Great Lakes Premier League best with an attendance of 5,012.

“Disappointed but so proud to be play again, especially in front of 5,000 people,” commented Deakin.

“It’s unbelievable. The community has come together and it is absolutely fantastic.”

“We came into the locker room and a 2-2 draw seemed like a loss. Why? Because we’ve raised the expectations, we brought 5,000 people, and all the guys were very disappointed with this kind of performance,” said Moni.

The team, now 2-1-2 in all competitions excluding exhibitions, looks forward to two weeks off before back-to-back contests on June 26 and 27. GRFC will travel to play AFC Ann Arbor on Friday, June 26 before returning to Houseman Field the next day to host Lansing United, hopefully in front of 5,000 more GRFC faithful.

“We just have to make sure we do better next time, and I think we will, I think we’ll bounce back from this,” said Deakin. “The boys are disappointed, but 5,000 supporters came out, and we’re pumped that that many people came out to cheer us on.”

Check out the video recap here.

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