It recently occurred to me that I’ve never explained where I came up with the title of my site. Those who stood in the supporters’ section this season will need no explanation, but the uninitiated may need a little help so here it is. Boys in Rouge is simply taken from the “Come On You Boys in Rouge” chant, which is modeled after Celtic’s “Come On You Bhoys* in Green.”
I haven’t been able to find a video of DCFC’s version (if someone finds it please post a link in the comments), but this is how it goes:
Come on you boys in gold
Come on you boys in rouge
Detroit tried and true
Detroit tried and true
It took me a little while to come up with Boys in Rouge – my other ideas were Rouge Report (ugh, terrible) and City Blog (not that bad, but there are dozens of teams that call themselves “City”) – and I think I made the right decision.
* [From Wikipedia: The club has the official nickname, “The Bhoys“. However, according to the Celtic press office, the newly established club was known to many as “the bold boys”. A postcard from the early 20th century that pictured the team, and read “The Bould Bhoys”, is the first known example of the unique spelling. The extra h imitates the spelling system of Gaelic, where the letter b is often accompanied by the letter h.]
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It’s also occurred to me that in spite of my site’s name, I hadn’t actually written much about the actual boys in rouge – the players.
In the beginning, when the first tryouts were going on, I was cautiously optimistic that a competitive team would be put together. Southeastern Michigan has a number of quality college soccer programs (UM, MSU, UDM, Oakland, SVSU among others) and a track record of producing talented players, such as former US National Teamers Alexi Lalas, Brian Maisonnueve, Kate Markgraf, as well as current pros Josh Gatt, Soony Saad, and Justin Meram (among others).[On a related note, Michigan is 10th in the number of registered youth soccer players by state with almost 90,000. Bonus trivia: After California, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania, Massachusetts! comes in 5th with over 164,000.]
When opening night finally came, it felt a little strange cheering for a brand new team with players I’d never seen before. On a more specific note, I joined the crowd in applauding a little louder when the captain, Josh Rogers, was introduced. I then thought, “I wonder what position he plays.” Here was our Gerrard, our Puyol, our Lahm, and I’d never even seen him kick a ball. Looking back now, it was a truly unique experience to watch that first match with no expectations, no prior knowledge of the players’ styles, strengths, weaknesses, or even where they would line up. My familiarity and opinions of them were built not by segments on ESPN or sports-talk radio, but solely by their play on the field.
Stefan St. Louis was obviously the first one who jumped out – it’s hard to miss a speedy, dreadlocked striker who scores your club’s first goal 11 minutes into the first match. Also hard to miss was 6’6” center back Adam Bedell. Athletic for his size, he was rarely beaten for speed all season because of his excellent positioning. Rogers, it turned out, was also a center back, and a damn good one (always in the right spot, never seeming fatigued) despite not being as physically imposing as his partner. Directly behind and in front of him were two of his former Michigan State teammates, Jeremy Clark in goal and Spencer Thompson in central midfield. A hard tackler and generally fiery player, there was a point in the opener at which Thompson was told to calm down, the ref seemingly surprised that someone would actually be, you know, trying hard and taking this seriously.
As that first season rolled on, more players kept emerging: Cyrus Saydee – only 5’6” but calm on the ball and easily the most technical player on the team, capable of playing all over the midfield; the fullbacks Zeke Harris – a former striker with speed and size – and Zach Schewee – a Leighton Baines look-alike with a good left-footed cross; Latif Alashe, a defensive mid quite adept at “breaking shit up;” Knox Cameron, a target man every bit of 6’3”, 220.
For my money, City’s best player in year one, and in the club’s short history, was Keith Lough. Equally capable of playing on either wing or in the middle behind the striker, he was typically the main creator in the attack and constantly provided quality service on set pieces.
The team was competitive in year one, narrowly missing out on the regular season division title, but since the club operates on an amateur basis, with nobody under contract, my concern going into year two was that we might have to start from square one with a mostly new squad. Fortunately, a large portion of the team returned, and they were joined by a few new faces.
Zach Myers stepped in at striker for the departed St. Louis and played excellently throughout the season en route to winning The Black Arrow Award for team MVP (and a sweet-looking bike). Kevin Taylor was the team’s top scorer early on and became the leader in the center of midfield when Spencer Thompson went down with an injury. Bret Mollon backed-up Jeremy Clark in goal and played so well that he essentially became a co-starter by mid-season.
As the reputation of DCFC grows, it becomes more and more of an attractive option for local talent. A prime example of this is how the depth of the squad improved from year one to two. In the first season, I tended to get a little concerned when I didn’t see some of the regular starters out on the field. This season, somebody new seemed to step up every week, whether by scoring goals or simply playing well within the team structure: Wade Allan and Shawn Lawson up top; Dave Edwardson, Lachlan Savage, Fabio, Miche’li Lipari, and Butler teammates Austin Oldham and Jeff Adkins in midfield; Nick Lewin and Luke Diener in defense. I feel bad omitting anyone but the list of contributors just goes on and on.
Heading into year three, I have no worries about finding talent because of the solid recruiting base that has been established, as well as the coaches’ track record of choosing good players. Looking further down the road, I think it would be a great move for DCFC to sponsor a youth team(s) and host some summer soccer camps. I have no idea of what the logistics or financial commitment for these would be, but I think they would be a great way to spread awareness of the club and continue growing roots in the area.
To finish off, I thought I’d share my Detroit City FC All-Time Best XI. This covers the first two seasons and will be updated every year from here on. This is purely my opinion – you can create your own lineups at startingeleven.co.uk.
Stefan St. Louis (ST)
Knox Cameron (ST)
Kyle Bethel (RW/LW)
Spencer Thompson (CM)*
Adam Bedell (CB/CM/ST)*
Luke Diener (CB)
Bret Mollon (GK)
*[There’s a good chance Thompson and Bedell would be in the first XI if they hadn’t missed most of season two with injuries.]