Dearborn Stars celebrate their first goal in the 58th minute of their Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game against the Michigan Bucks at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich. Photo: Kelly Haapala
The Dearborn Stars made their first appearance in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary and the amateur club made quite an entrance.
The Stars defeated the Michigan Bucks 2-0 courtesy of a pair of goals by Niki Djokic at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac on Tuesday night. The Bucks, who are known throughout the country as giant killers, exit the tournament in the opening round for just the third time in club history. The Bucks, an amateur team in the Premier Development League, have upset more professional teams than any other club at their level, including two Major League Soccer teams (New England Revolution in 2000, Chicago Fire in 2012).
The Stars move on to Round 2 where they will travel to Ohio on May 21 to play the Dayton Dutch Lions, the USL Pro team that eliminated the Bucks in last year’s tournament.
The first half started with the Bucks making Dearborn chase shadows. As the half went on, the Stars began to look more comfortable, even when the Bucks turned up the game’s speed. It was a sign of things to come when the Stars’ Mo Kaba broke through on goal but had his shot saved. Though the Bucks created a few chances, notably in the last five minutes of the first half, Dearborn remained strong as the teams went into the halftime break scoreless.
In the second half, Dearborn came out strong and were willing to take the game to the Bucks. It paid off when Dearborn scored their first goal in the 58th minute, when a rebounded Stars shot fell to Djokic who scored the goal against his former club.
The Bucks however, created a few chances of their own, including a one-on-one opportunity that Stars goalie Vito Longoria stopped. The Bucks also swarmed the Stars’ box but they remained strong defensively.
Djokic would strike again in the 90th minute to put the game away when he scored from open play to give the Stars a 2-0 lead and the victory.
Stars coach Sam Piraine was pleased with the result.
“I’m glad we did it for as long as we did, I didn’t know it was going to be that intense,” Piraine said.
Piraine said that at halftime, they decided to go for it.
“We went in thinking to defend the whole game, we held them strong. At halftime we said, it’s even, we can try to go at them,” Piraine said.
“Defensively, I thought we were very strong,” Piraine said.
Gary Parsons, who announced earlier in the day that he was stepping down as head coach, spoke in place of newly-named head coach Demir Muftari.
“We didn’t create enough chances in the box and we didn’t put enough pressure on them to crack them. We didn’t get a lot of quality chances,” Parsons said.