(WINDSOR, ON) – It was Detroit City FC’s turn to visit Canada in the annual international soccer friendly against the Windsor Stars, and there was some added intrigue as they sought to avenge last year’s 1-nil loss at home. By the end of a hard fought 90 minutes, DCFC managed a 2-1 victory, earning bragging rights for the next 364 days.
The Stars pressured the visitors from the opening kick-off, pushing into the Detroit end but with the defenders clearing easily. City returned the favour by attacking the Windsor goal, but keeper Kyle Vizirakis was equal to the task and gathered in the ball.
A late arrival to the game after being held up at Customs, Danny Dragoi substituted in for former Stars midfielder Martin Nyul in the 17th minute. Both players would play key roles in the Detroit win.
The two sides began to settle down and the play developed into a shot passing game centred in the midfield. Both Windsor and Detroit traded possessions as they each looked for an opening to exploit. Dragoi teamed with Winningham, a call-up for the match, for a chance at the Windsor goal while Mike Pio pushed a chance past the City post.
After 45 minutes the sides headed to the dressing rooms knotted at nil.
Shortly after returning to the pitch, Jamar Kelly was carded for a late tackle. Seconds later he redeemed himself as Dragoi made life hectic for the Windsor defense. Working from the left side, Dragoi cut into the middle and slide the ball inside the 6. Kelly got a foot to clear it into touch and the resulting corner was directed over the bar by Detroit’s Tyler Channell.
After Vizirakis pulled down a cross in the 52nd minute he sent the ball up field for Ciprian Codea who was met by Shane Beaton in the City goal. Beaton was then able to gather the rebound while under pressure from Eric Cirovski.
Detroit and Windsor exchanged chances with both keepers being equal. The crowd of over 400 were treated to a long distance strike by Dragoi from 45 yards as he tried to catch Vizirakis off his line. To the fortune of the Windsor keeper, the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Fate then struck when Channell found the back of the net in the 78th minute to put the Le Rouge up 1-nil. However, less than a minute later, Windsor was awarded a penalty when the always dangerous Mike Pio was taken down inside the 18 and Leighton Speechley-Price made no mistake from the spot to draw even.
The fireworks weren’t over, however. Detroit backed the Windsor defenders onto their heels and Vizirakis was called upon to make a close-in save on Dragoi. He could not handle the rebound and Nyul parked the ball behind him for the go-ahead marker in the 83rd minute.
The Stars continued to attack, but couldn’t penetrate the City defense, and gave the match to the visitors.
Both squads agreed that the first preseason game was a great opportunity to gain some game experience for the new players and conditioning for all.
“I think both teams are in their preseason training and I think that kind of showed a little bit,” said Detroit City FC assistant coach Josh Rogers. “Fitness levels weren’t at their peak, but with the ball on the ground it was a good back and forth game.”
Windsor took advantage of switching players to different roles and practiced some set plays. For the first game out of the gate, Stars head coach Shane Topalovic was pleased with his team’s performance.
“For a first game, I though it went really well,” he said. “We tried to move players in and out of positions and tried different formations, and I thought overall it was pretty good. Can’t be disappointed, especially with the quality [Detroit] has.”
Windsor will kick off the regular season in League 1 Ontario with a home match on May 7 at Alumni Field when they host ProStars FC starting at 5:00pm. Detroit also gets under way the same day as they travel to Muskegon to face the Risers at 3:00pm.