2017 Schedule Analysis

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With City’s annual open tryout this past Friday and now the full 2017 schedule dropping, the new season cycle has officially begun. It’s been a solid six months since we’ve had anything to sink our teeth into, so let’s get to it.

The initial thing to note is that the new divisional format means City will play 14 league matches in two months, as opposed to 12 over the same time period in 2016. Not having an Open Cup commitment, while disappointing, also means that the early part of the season will be a little less crowded with fixtures.

The very first weekend should provide ample evidence as to whether or not City has put last season’s struggles behind them. In 2016 Milwaukee Torrent went 6-0-0 in the provisional Midwest Central division while Michigan Stars took a win and a draw out of their two meetings with DCFC.

The next two matches are against the teams that finished #1 and #2 in the division last season – Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. Following the latter matchup on Friday, June 2nd, City will have to make a long trip to Indiana on Sunday the 4th. Despite the fact that Indiana looks to be probably the weakest team in the division, going on the road after a short turnaround makes this a potential trap.

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State of the Club 2017

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Note: I wrote this piece to be published on another site, but that fell through. Since it covers basically everything I intended to include in my annual State of the Club, I’m posting it here now.

Previously:   SOTC 2014   SOTC 2015   SOTC 2016

The first five years of Detroit City FC’s existence were defined by rapid growth, not only in the club’s popularity, but in match attendance and revenue as well. The greater City’s reputation has become, the more speculation has arisen over its potential jump to a professional league. With the struggles of the NASL and the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision concerning Division II league sanctioning, that speculation has only intensified.

Up until the league’s recent brush with death, I’d preferred the NASL as Detroit City’s destination if and when the time came for the club to move up to the pro level. There was a lot to like about the league, namely its hands-off approach to its member clubs, which stands in stark contrast to the tightly-controlled single-entity model of MLS. In my view a jump to the NASL represented a happy medium in that City would be able to compete at a higher tier and raise its profile, and at the same time maintain the culture and identity that made the club special in the first place.

In light of the events of the past two months, though, I’ve changed my position. NASL’s instability, demonstrated primarily by the near collapse of its flagship franchise, the New York Cosmos, as well as the exodus or uncertain future of several other clubs, makes it clear to me that the league should no longer be seriously considered in Detroit City’s future plans. Despite rumors coming out of the NASL meetings in December that Detroit was in advanced talks to join the league beginning in 2018, DCFC co-owner Sean Mann denied any involvement other than some general discussions. Thanks to the USSF’s January 7th decision not to revoke NASL’s Division II sanctioning, the league may be able to stabilize and recover, but in the short-term it appears to be too risky an option for an up-and-coming club to join.

The other result of that January 7th meeting was the conferring of Division II status on USL, allowing it to move up from its de facto Division III position to become essentially equal to NASL. While USL’s reputation has grown in recent years thanks to the great success of clubs such as Sacramento and Cincinnati, the major sticking point for me and many other Detroit City supporters is that the inclusion of MLS reserve sides and affiliates in the league gives it a distinct “minor league”/“little brother of MLS” type of feel. Were a true MLS reserve league to form and allow the independent USL clubs to split into a separate division, that would make it a much more attractive option for City, but until then it’s difficult to see supporters showing much interest in USL as currently constituted.

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2016 Season Wrap

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Head Coach: Ben Pirmann
Captain: Dave Edwardson
103rd Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup: Second Round
NPSL Great Lakes West Conference: 5th
NPSL Midwest Regional Playoffs: Did not qualify
Rust Belt Derby: Winner (4th time)
Top Goalscorer (Competitive Matches): Tommy Catalano (5)
Black Arrow Award (Team MVP): Tommy Catalano

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Friendlies

103rd Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

Regular Season

Great Lakes West Final Standings

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A Response to MGoBlog

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As a longtime Michigan Football fan, I’ve been a reader of MGoBlog for over a decade. I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated the in-depth, intelligent, nuanced content produced by Brian Cook and his team. In my opinion it’s by far the best team-specific sports blog on the Internet, and was one of my main sources of inspiration when I started BIR three years ago. In many ways what I’ve been aiming for is to be the “MGoBlog” of Detroit City FC.

So I was taken aback when I read Brian’s utter contempt for City and its supporters in this recent post:

 Nothing is more annoying about DCFC than this. Detroit is a name frequently proposed for MLS expansion because it makes a ton of sense. It’s an excellent sports town and it’s smack dab in the middle of the Toronto-Chicago-Columbus triangle. But Detroit City is vehemently opposed:

…for this team and its passionate supporters, being included would have also presented another conundrum: DCFC’s identity is homegrown and supporters say it would disintegrate under MLS’ sanitized fan control policies.

For them, the only way to keep growing soccer in Detroit, the only way they saw the sport as having a real future here, was to keep it community and supporter-focused. The Detroit sports landscape, Wright said, was too treacherous for any team to turn their back on that model.

That is absurdly self-important and aloof. Many MLS environments are excellent and homegrown because the league was able to establish a détente with existing fans. The league has done a terrific job of crossing over from Family Fun to actually fun environments in Toronto, Seattle, and Portland.

The same can happen in Detroit, because the DCFC hardcore are not 1) particularly numerous and 2) the only soccer fans in the city. If DCFC wants to finish out of the playoff slots in the NPSL because MLS would frown on them saying “fuck” 300 times in a 90 minute match, that’s their prerogative. It should have no impact on MLS’s decision to come to Detroit or not. There’s no reason the two teams can’t coexist since they serve different markets. One will draw the interest of soccer fans; the other will draw the interest of people who like to act tough and watch colored smoke instead of soccer.

The argument that City supporters don’t care about soccer and only go to matches to get drunk and cosplay as European ultras is brought up by our detractors over and over, and each time it gets more tiresome. There may be some supporters for whom this is absolutely true, but for the core of NGS, the dress, smoke and tifo displays, etc. are simply expressions of our love for the club and the ways in which we choose to support it. We create the atmosphere in celebration of what happens on the field, not independent of it. If drawing attention to ourselves in turn makes more people aware of City, we’ve accomplished what we set out to do from the very beginning.

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