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U.S. OPEN CUP SOCCER Detroit City FC finds way to escape Michigan Stars in emotional U.S. Open Cup clash


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HAMTRAMCK, Mich. If you ask Dan Dichio, he feels Tuesday night was not a thing of beauty.

Not even close.

The irony of the beautiful game is that a team doesn’t always have to play its best to survive and advance. Such was life Tuesday at historic Keyworth Stadium, where Detroit City FC found a way to win an emotional-filled rivalry game without playing its best game off the season.

It took host Detroit City FC a few minutes of added time to topple in-state rival Michigan Stars FC 1-0 in the third round of the 108th Annual Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“Emotional I think,” sighed Dichio, the Detroit City FC head coach. “I just spoke to our guys in (the locker room) and I was pretty disappointed because we went away from what we were trying to do as a team. There were some good moments but we as a whole got caught up in the emotions of the (rivalry) game and I thought the referee lost control of the game for both teams not just for us. It kind of upset the rhythm of it. It’s a darby game, you know. You want to play in these games. The fans want it, kind of high-tempo and it was one of those games where the referee lost control and upset the rhythm.”

Carroll felt the Michigan Stars’ energy early on in the contest was expected. The Le Rouge had to play over 90 minutes to weather the storm and finally net the game’s only tally.

“We kind of expected them to come out full-force. Every time we play them, and credit to them, they stick to their game plan which makes it difficult for everyone,” said Detroit City FC’s Stephen Carroll. “I just feel like we wasted too many opportunities. We were getting to the right spots and guys were making good balls and good runs and we couldn’t do anything. It could have been a completely different game (if we finished chances earlier).”

On a night of dramatic finishes around the U.S. Open Cup, Detroit City FC (5-0-0) dominated play after a slow start, collecting a 22-5 shots edge on the night, including 10-1 with shots on frame, and also held a 3-2 edge on cornerkicks. But the Le Rouge could not find the back of the net until four minutes into stoppage time at the tail end of the game.

On the game’s only goal, Carroll picked off a pass just inside midfield, slipped a through ball into space and Maxi Rodriguez buried his breakaway shot past Stars netminder Tatenda Mkuruva and into the back of the net.

The Michigan Stars could not counter with an equalizer in the waning moments of stoppage time.

“They tried to turn it back on us. I read one of their dribbles out and found Maxi wide open near the middle of the field. I was going to go in on my own — no I wasn’t,” joked Carroll. “No, actually Maxi was in a great spot. He corralled it perfectly, opened up his body beautifully and he hit it first time.”

The few minutes extra was worth it, especially in a tournament setting and against another Michigan opponent.

“It was obviously elation,” smiled Dichio. “I thought Stevie (Carroll) had a fantastic game tonight and was a catalyst for that goal. He stepped in and won the ball but then he threaded a ball through to Maxi who made a great run. Maxi stayed inside and then (shot it). Maxi’s one of the best finishers in this league. He can finish with composure and slid it into the back corner there and gave us a win.

“I really didn’t want to go into extra time,” continued Dichio. “We wanted to try and rest a couple of players tonight. But I said to the guys before that the (U.S. Open) Cup is important to me. I want them to think it’s important and go as far as we can in this tournament.”

Mkuruva kept the Michigan Stars close, especially in the first half. Mkuruva finished with five first-half saves, including three point-blank-range stops late in the first half and stoppage time, and finished with nine total saves on the night.

“He’s always known for making a couple of crazy saves. So, we have just got to be better in front of the goal,” said Carroll. “Like I said we got into positions where we should have scored more. We’ve just got to finish them.”

In a game marred by 35 penalties, six yellow cards and a pair of red cars – one per side for the players, plus a third red to the Michigan Stars bench – both teams kept each other in check on the defensive end until the final minutes.

Backup goalkeeper Carolos Saldana recorded just one second-half save to earn the clean sheet for DCFC.

(Have a story suggestion for the Premier Media Group and the Michigan Soccer Network regarding club soccer, high school varsity, amateur soccer, collegiate soccer or professional soccer of teams or players with Michigan ties, contact Communications Specialist/Web and Content Editor/Director of News Dan Stickradt via email at, or call 248-884-1051. Dan Stickradt is a 31-year veteran of the Michigan Media circles and recently joined the staff full time in March of 2024. Want to schedule a broadcast game or live show, contact PMG/MSN Director of Broadcasting Jonathan Turner for availability and pricing at 


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