GAME RECAP: Detroit City FC

Andrew Streitel

KZFC fall in season finale against DCFC

Kalamazoo FC hosted Detroit City FC on Saturday in the team’s final match of the season. The highly anticipated match did not disappoint as both teams played well and DCFC was able to secure a 3-1 victory over KZFC.

Detroit City FC came into the match with a 11-game unbeaten streak with their only loss of the season courtesy of KZFC earlier in the year. With the Great Lakes Conference championship already secured, DCFC looked to earn a first-round bye in the Midwest playoffs with a win.

The excitement began right from kickoff as KZFC almost opened up the scoring in the fifth minute. A KZFC free kick was sent into the box and Dalton Michael took a shot from close range but a DCFC defender was able to clear it off the goal line. DCFC would score the game’s first goal just a few minutes later.

A penalty kick was given to DCFC in the eighth minute after a tackle by Carson Brinks in the box. Max Todd calmly stepped up to take the kick and smashed the ball into the bottom right corner giving DCFC the early 1-0 lead.

“This group bounces back from adversity very well and they kept fighting and we scored a goal of our own,” said KZFC head coach Brian Clements. “When it was 1-1 I thought we had a chance, we created some good opportunities but couldn’t find the back of the net.”

The game then went back and forth and KZFC would find the equalizer in the 25th minute. Michael was able to secure a cross and laid the ball back to Isaiah Nieves whose shot beat the keeper to tie the game at 1-1.

“Our offense was very disciplined throughout the season and knew the connections would come,” said Clements. “There was a lot of individual growth throughout the season from the guys up front.”

The game would go into halftime tied at 1-1 with both teams playing well and creating many chances on net. However, goalkeepers from both clubs played extremely well throughout the match.

Things settled down a bit in the second half as DCFC started to see more of the possession. There were no clear chances for either team in the first 25 minutes of the second half. However, things changed quickly as DCFC found the game winning goal in the 71st minute.

Abdoulaye Diop dribbled through three KZFC defenders as he made his way into the goal box. Diop made a slight cut to his left and riffled a shot into the upper 90 that was able to beat Isaac Walker and give DCFC the 2-1 advantage.

“We gave up a goal that was tough, we had a lot of defenders in the area but didn’t win the tackle and it was a rough goal to give up,” said Clements.

Kalamazoo FC pushed men forward looking for the equalizer again but were unable to create a real goal scoring opportunity. DCFC topped the game off with a late goal in stoppage time as Tommy Buono got behind the KZFC defense and curl a shot into the net. DCFC secured the 3-1 victory and earned a first-round bye in the Midwest playoffs.

Kalamazoo FC finished in fourth place in the conference with a record of 6-3-5 (W-L-D). This was the best season yet for KZFC in their four-year history as a club. The future looks bright for the club as they continue their quest for a conference championship.

“This team raised the standard for what Kalamazoo FC has to deliver every season,” said Clements. “Now this club needs to be fighting for a championship every year.”

GAME RECAP: La Liga All-Stars

Andrew Streitel

KZFC blank La Liga All-Stars in friendly

Kalamazoo FC took on the La Liga All-Stars in a friendly match this past Sunday. After a lack luster first half, KZFC would find their rhythm and go on to win the match 4-0 and improve their shutout streak to five games.

Kalamazoo FC had the chance to switch up their line-up as players that have not seen much playing time got their name called as a starter. The La Liga All-Stars did the same, bringing lots of players to get a chance to play against a semi-professional club.

“Those players need match minutes and get their confidence up,” said head coach Brian Clements. “They are doing all the right things in training but it’s just really competitive to earn a spot on the field.”

The game started slow for KZFC as they struggled to find a rhythm offensively and lacked connections in the final third. Although KZFC had the better chances and more possession throughout the first half, they lacked clear goal scoring chances. The La Liga All-Stars were holding their own as they created some great chances on net.

“We lacked composure and the final ball in the first half,” said Clements. “We got in some good positions but our final ball into the box was pretty poor.”

After a back and forth first half, KZFC would receive and penalty kick late in the half. Mario Diaz would step up to take the shot but Stephen Hunter would make a great save to keep the game scoreless going into halftime.

“We had a really precise conversation at halftime and let guys know specifically what they need to do better and they responded well,” said Clements.

Kalamazoo FC came out in the second half with high energy forcing the La Liga All-Stars to play at a quicker pace. Trevor Towghi from the All-Stars would be sent off in the 51st minute after receiving two yellow cards in just six minutes. KZFC would go on the attack from this point on playing with a man advantage.

Nooh Aljabaly would open the scoring in the 57th minute. Aljabaly would dribble past a few defenders and curl a shot past the goalie to score his second goal in two games. KZFC would have full control over the game going forward as goals came quick for the team.

Donovan Michael got on the score sheet in the 64th minute after a cross to the back post led to a tap in and a 2-0 advantage. His twin brother would not be out done, as Dalton Michael scored just two minutes after his brother.

In the 66th minute Dalton Michael, just recently substituted into the game, would get out on the breakaway and easily place the ball past the goalie to give KZFC a 3-0 lead. Michael would score his second goal of the night in the 75th minute. His breakaway goal would be the final goal of the match and give KZFC a 4-0 victory.

After a poor first half, KZFC would dominate the second half and comfortably win 4-0. This is the fifth straight shutout for KZFC and the most goals they have scored in a game this season.

“We need to be better in first halves going forward,” said Clements. “We are very sluggish and not starting games well and need to figure out what is going wrong.”

Kalamazoo FC will be on the road Friday against Grand Rapids FC in the 131 derby. KZFC will be back home on Sunday when they face off against Michigan Stars FC at 5:30 p.m.

GAME RECAP: FC Columbus

Andrew Streitel

KZFC earn third straight shutout in win

Kalamazoo FC earned its third straight shutout in a much needed three points on Friday against FC Columbus. KZFC were able to find the game winner late in the match and earn a 1-0 victory over FCC.

It was the defeat cancer game in Kalamazoo, as the team partnered up with the West Michigan Cancer Center to raise money to help prevent cancer. Every ticket sold was a dollar donated to the West Michigan Cancer Center. The match did not disappoint either as both teams played at a high level.

“It was a battle tonight just like every night in our conference and around the league,” said head coach Brian Clements. “Columbus is very well organized and bring lots of threats that we had to deal with tonight.”

Kalamazoo FC started the game strong putting lots of pressure on the FCC back line. Dalton Michael would have a great chance in the sixth minute but the goalie would make a diving save to keep the game scoreless. It was a defensive battle all night with neither offense gaining much momentum.

“The defense has been well organized and they trust each other a lot,” said Clements. “It’s a back four that is so solid and we do a really good job with team defending as well.”

The game entered halftime tied at 0-0 with KZFC having a slight advantage of possession and goal scoring chances. However, none of the chances for either team in the first half were too dangerous.

Kalamazoo FC would start to gain more control of the game in the second half with lots of possession and play in the FCC half of the field. However, the defense of Columbus would be stout throughout most of the match. FC Columbus had a handful of chances of their own in the second half but nothing to threatening.

“I thought we grew into the game in the second half and we started to make more chances and got the goal we have been dying for,” said Clements.

The only goal of the match came in the 81st minute courtesy of Donovan Michael. Carson Brinks would send a ball into the box that found an open Michael on the back post that smashed the ball away. KZFC would stay strong defensively and hold on to the 1-0 victory.

“This win gives us a little bit of confidence, we were going through a rough stretch for a little bit,” said Clements. “Three points is everything in this league and ties will kill you so this was a big three points.”

This win for KZFC breaks their three-game tying streak, and improves their shutout streak to three games. Elliot Miller was named man of the match for his contributions on defense that helped KZFC secure the shutout win.

Kalamazoo FC will be back in action Friday when they travel to National Premier Soccer League newcomer, Toledo Villa FC. KZFC will be home next Sunday for a friendly against the La Liga All-Stars starting at 5:30 p.m.

GAME RECAP: Oakland County FC

Andrew Streitel

KZFC eliminated from Michigan Milk Cup  

Kalamazoo FC suffered a bad loss in the quarterfinals of the Michigan Milk Cup this past Sunday. Oakland County FC was able to come into Kalamazoo and win a 2-1 game and move on to play Grand Rapids FC in the semi-finals of the Milk Cup.

Kalamazoo FC started the game very well, keeping possession of the ball and creating some solid chances in the first 10 minutes of the game. However, OCFC were the ones who were able to open up the scoring.

“We are really struggling in the attacking third and building any type of connections,” said head coach Brian Clements. “Give them credit they defended very well throughout the match.”

Oakland County FC scored their first goal of the evening in the 12th minute. A nice cross to the back post found a wide-open Fred Prest who volleyed the ball into the net. The next 10 minutes of the game would then be back and forth as OCFC gained more confidence with having the lead.

Kalamazoo FC would start to put more and more pressure on the OCFC defense as they created chance after chance. In the 30th minute KZFC would find the equalizer as Dalton Michael’s shot from outside the box would find the back of the net. After scoring his fourth goal of the season, Michael and the KZFC offense would have plenty of more chances to score another in the first half. However, the game would go into halftime all knotted up at 1-1.

“I think we created some good chances in the first half and we did not finish those chances which lost us the game,” said coach Clements.

The second half was much like the first half, with KZFC controlling the ball with lots of possession. However, KZFC was lacking the final pass to finish off the chances they were creating and frustration grew as they were not able to find the game winning goal.

Oakland County FC broke out on the counter attack in the 63rd minute and found the last goal of the game to give them the 2-1 lead. Prest was able to score his second goal of the match when his close-range shot went through the legs of KZFC goal keeper Michael White.

KZFC would raise their intensity the last 15 minutes of the contest but the lack of good chances on net would be their downfall. Despite having majority of the possession, KZFC would end up losing the match 2-1 and be eliminated from the Michigan Milk Cup.

“It was a tough loss, in the second half I thought they sat in very well and countered and got a goal,” said coach Clements. “We need to watch the film and correct what we have been doing wrong.”

Kalamazoo FC currently sits in second place in the Great Lakes Conference of the National Premier Soccer League, fighting to stay in playoff position. The team will be on the road next week as they travel to face Michigan Stars FC. The game will be played at the Ultimate Soccer Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m.

GAME RECAP: Detroit City FC

Andrew Streitel

KZFC scores in stoppage time to beat DCFC

Kalamazoo FC pulls out a thrilling victory over Detroit City FC at Keyworth Stadium. Elliot Miller scored his first goal of the season in stoppage time to give KZFC a 3-2 win on the road.

After seeing heavy rain throughout the day, the field was water logged and both teams would have to adjust to the speed of the ball early in the first half. Detroit City FC saw more of the ball in the first half as they continued to pressure the defense of KZFC early. KZFC looked to attack on the counter with not much success in the first half.

Lasse Kjeldsen and the KZFC defense did well to keep the game scoreless for most of the first half. Goalkeeper Isaac Walker also added some big saves to keep KZFC in the game early on. After a few counter attacks by KZFC, Detroit would open up the scoring in the 40 minute.

Shawn Lawson was able to score the opening goal for Detroit after a ball was slotted across the goal box and he placed his shot into the right corner. KZFC would go into halftime trailing 1-0 with what would be an exciting second half to come.

Detroit would start the second half strong again with lots of pressure on the back line of KZFC. However, KZFC would hold them off and score a goal of their own in the 57 minute. After a penalty kick was awarded to KZFC, Giuseppe Vitale rose to the challenge and placed the ball in the left corner to tie the game at 1-1.

Detroit would respond well by regaining their lead just five minutes later on a miscue by the KZFC defense. Max Todd would secure the ball and score on an open net to give Detroit a 2-1 lead in the 63 minute.

The game would then go back and forth until KZFC would tie the game for the second time in the 73 minute. Dalton Michael would use his speed to get out on the breakaway and slot the ball home to score his league high third goal of the season.

Detroit would then go on the attack creating many chances to score but the back line of KZFC would play phenomenal in the final 15 minutes of the game to hold Detroit to two goals in the game. KZFC looked dangerous all game long on the counter attack and they had one more in them which would end up being the game winner.

Elliot Miller made a run down the right side of the field and got in behind the Detroit defense. He would then take a shot just outside the goal box and chip the goalkeeper to give KZFC a 3-2 lead in stoppage time.

KZFC held strong in the final two minutes of stoppage time and secured, a very hard to get, three points on the road at Keyworth Stadium. Lasse Kjeldsen was named man of the match for his stellar defense. KZFC is currently tied for first place with AFC Ann Arbor in the Great Lakes Conference of the National Premier League.

Kalamazoo FC will be back home on Friday when they host conference rival, Grand Rapids FC. Kickoff at Mayors Riverfront Park is set for 7 p.m.