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: Toledo Villa FC

Andrew Streitel

KZFC earn season sweep over TVFC

Kalamazoo FC earned a two-game season sweep over National Premier Soccer League newcomer, Toledo Villa FC. KZFC was able to post another shutout on the season in the 1-0 victory over TVFC this past Sunday.

Kalamazoo FC would start the game well on the offensive end creating good quality chances. However, the KZFC defense would not start the same as they came out too relaxed which lead to some scoring chances for TVFC. After the first 15 minutes of the game things would calm down and KZFC would control the run of play.

“We struggle at times to get into gear early in the match and it is something we have been battling all year,” said head coach Brian Clements. “Toledo was amazing tonight; they deserve all the credit.”

The match would go into halftime tied at zeros with KZFC in control of the game. TVFC was behind in both possession of the ball and goal scoring opportunities at the break. However, neither team was able to break through in the first half.

The second half was much of the same as KZFC continued to control the play. TVFC would receive their best chance of the night in the 57th minute when a rebound was smashed on target and rattled the crossbar.

“Toledo had great effort on the defensive end and closed down very well,” said Clements. “Their midfield worked hard to connect with their backline and they were excellent tonight.”

The game winning goal came in the 72nd minute after Isaiah Nieves broke down the right wing and slotted a ball back into the box. Alex Segura was able to control the pass and curl his shot into the bottom left corner giving KZFC the 1-0 advantage.

Toledo Villa FC would push men forward in the final ten minutes of the game looking for an equalizer. However, Isaac Walker and company would stay strong for KZFC and earn the team their sixth shutout of the season with the 1-0 victory over TVFC.

Kalamazoo FC has one final game left on the schedule. KZFC will be home on Saturday, July 13 at 3 p.m. as they host first place Detroit City FC. DCFC suffered their only loss of the season in a 3-2 defeat against KZFC earlier in the year.

“Games against Detroit are always fun; they bring a lot of energy,” said Clements. “They are one of the front runners and we are trying to chase them down and see what we can do.”

GAME RECAP: Michigan Stars FC

Andrew Streitel

KZFC and MSFC end in draw

Kalamazoo FC and the Michigan Stars FC battle to a 2-2 draw in a very high intensity match. It was a hot and humid day but both clubs performed well in the heat offensively scoring two goal apiece.

Kalamazoo FC came out of the gate strong with lots of pressure on the MSFC back line forcing multiple turnovers. KZFC’s high intensity would pay off early as they scored the opening goal in just the seventh minute of the game.

Isaiah Nieves whipped in a corner kick that found Carson Brinks who was able to head the ball home and give KZFC an early 1-0 advantage. This goal would give KZFC lots of confidence as they continued to push forward to create many chances in the first half. KZFC was in control throughout the half until stoppage time came.

“I thought we created chances very well in the first half and defended well until Ruddock went down and we didn’t adjust,” said head coach Brian Clements. “We gave up a cheap goal and that kind of changed the game.”

Alex Ruddock would have to be substituted out of the game after an apparent head injury occurred late in the first half. KZFC was down one of their best defenders when MSFC would capitalize on a mistake by the defense. After KZFC failed to clear a cross, Steven Juncaj was in the right place to clean up the mistake and a tie the game at 1-1 heading into halftime.

“We just need to focus on the details and be sharper on the ball,” said Clements. “We didn’t finish our chances and made too many mistakes.”

Michigan Stars FC would score the next goal in the 49th minute giving them a 2-1 lead early in the second half. A sloppy turnover by the KZFC defense lead to a one on one and Isaac Walker was unable to make the save. KZFC would respond well after conceding the goal, creating plenty of goal scoring chances of their own.

“I think we were a little fatigued defensively as guys are putting in a lot of minutes and we made some mental errors,” said Clements. “When you make two big mistakes that lead to goals, it is tough to win.”

Nieves would get on the score sheet again in the 56th minute after his goal tied the game yet again. David Magallon played a great ball to the back post that found Nieves who was able to beat the keeper and score the teams second goal of the match.

Kalamazoo FC controlled the run of play for the rest of the match but were unable to find the game winning goal after creating many chances. The game would end in a 2-2 draw and Nieves was awarded the man of the match for his assist and goal.

Kalamazoo FC will play two games this upcoming weekend as they travel to face FC Columbus on Friday, July 5. KZFC will be back home on Sunday, July 7, when they host Toledo Villa FC.