The Difference Between Us

Friday, July 4th, 2014 – Detroit City FC 1, Michigan Stars 2

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 – Detroit City FC 2, Cincinnati 0

Photo by Kelly Haapala
Photo by Kelly Haapala

In discussions concerning sports, one of the biggest clichés is the concept of class. Fans like to toss the term about, using it to supposedly prove the integrity and moral superiority of their team while simultaneously exposing the degeneracy of their opponents. Usually it goes something like this (with poorer spelling and more cursing): “Our players are brave and hard-working, yours are a bunch of thugs. Our coach is an upstanding man of principle, yours is a dirty cheater. Our fans are passionate and well-behaved, yours are vulgar, violent lowlifes.” Most of the time, these are just expressions of frustration in the wake of a loss, but once in a while, they are legitimate gripes. Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C.

Sports sometimes have the effect of bringing out the worst in people, but they also have the unique ability to bring out the best. In less than a 48-hour span this weekend, this contrast was on full display. I’m referring, of course, to the post-game antics on Friday and the tribute to a fallen referee two days later.

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Little needs to be said about the actions of the Stars’ staff. Their actions speak for themselves.

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Whatever you do, The Duke will capture it forever.

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Taunting and banter between supporters, even between supporters and players, happens all the time – for better or worse, it’s just a part of the culture that exists. It’s a bit different, though, when employees of a club physically threaten supporters. I’m not going to sit here and act OUTRAGED! or OFFENDED!, but I will say this: When an owner of the opposing club has to try to get your employees to control themselves, it reveals what kind of organization you truly have. If, at some future date, Detroit City returns to your stadium, which just so happens to be within walking distance of my home, I will not be in attendance.

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I’ve written many times that one of the keys to Detroit City’s success is its connection to the community; since it has partnered with local businesses and charities from the very beginning, it feels much bigger and more significant that a mere stand-alone, minor-league operation. The play on the field and the atmosphere in the stands also contribute to this “big-time” feel, and the moving display in remembrance of John Bieniewicz was yet another high point, perhaps the highest of all.

Photo by Michael Kitchen
Photo by Michael Kitchen
The Duke

The term class may be overused, but this is one instance in which it is perfectly applicable. I never met the man and, until a week ago, I had never heard of him either. Now I know his name and his story by heart.

The game we love has an ugly side to it, and it contributed to his untimely passing, but there is also a beautiful side, which made him known to many and ensured that he will never be forgotten.

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Random Thoughts

On the Stars:

The Game Despite playing with 10 men for roughly 75 minutes, City ended up with the greater share of shots and quality chances. There was at least one buildup in each half which looked certain to result in a goal, only to see a Stars defender block the shot as it headed for the goal. City’s heavy pressure in the second half resulted in a penalty, numerous corners, and a shot that hit the crossbar.

Credit must go to the Stars, who looked like a much better team than the one that opened the season with a 3-0 loss at Cass. Stefan St. Louis played well, getting a goal and assist and drawing the attention of multiple defenders several times, which opened up space for his teammates. The most obvious example of this was when he got around two City defenders and passed back across the box to Ade Adeniyi for the second goal of the game.

Officiating The red card to Alex Isaevski was obviously the big talking point in this one. The play happened right in front of the section where NGS was standing, and my initial thought was, “Hopefully that will only be a yellow.” A straight red may have been harsh, considering Isaevski didn’t actually make contact with Ardit Dushkaj, but it was a silly challenge – sliding in late with both feet – that gave the referee the opportunity to make the call.

Isaevski’s challenge looked like the result of over-enthusiasm rather than any ill-intent. At just 19, he’s recently broken into the first team and seems like a promising young player. He’ll surely learn from that moment moving forward.

The referee and his linesman didn’t do themselves any favors from that point on, showing inconsistency in foul calls and blowing several offside decisions. On the whole, the officiating this season has been brutal. The relatively uneventful games are the exception to the rule and I can’t remember it being so consistently bad from game to game in 2012 or 2013. I keep telling myself that these are isolated incidents, but here we are with the regular season winding down and it hasn’t gotten any better from the debacle in the Open Cup.

I have no idea what the solution is, I just wish that with all the money and effort US Soccer is putting into the improvement of youth player development in this country, they could spend a little on the training and support of officials as well.

Standouts It wasn’t any individual that really stood out, but the team as a whole. They were shaken up when they went down to 10 men, allowing two goals just a few minutes apart, but they settled down, battled for the entire game and probably deserved a point for their efforts. Just wasn’t their day.

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On Cincy:

The Game A workmanlike performance. The attack looked dangerous despite only scoring twice, and the defense only allowed two or three good chances all game. At this point it’s just about…points, specifically earning them and getting into the playoffs, and after dropping the game on Friday, beating the worst team in the conference at home was an absolute must.

Standouts Jeff Adkins picked up right where he left off, scoring the opening goal and using his speed to create problems for the defense all day. Will Mellors-Blair had a goal and an assist, the former a rocket struck with his right toe as the ball was coming across his body from the left. Great technique and a GOTY nominee.

At one point City had Adkins, WMB, and Shawn Lawson all on the field – pure speed. It will be interesting to see if it was just a coincidence or if Pirmann will deploy that combination again in certain situations.

Speaking of Pirmann

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Michael Kitchen

Webster’s defines bravery as Wearing a blue shirt on a hot summer day.

Okay, it doesn’t, but it should. No sweatstains here.

Danny Dragoi (#14 with the bald head) was captain of the Michigan Stars earlier this season. He left the team after coach Sam Piraine was fired. Chomakov…Dragoi… You guys should hide your current captain. Somewhere safe, somewhere no one would think to look, somewhere no one goes. Got it! You could hide him in your stands. Nobody will ever notice.

Attendance Last year, 2612 would’ve been a great accomplishment, and it shows how far we’ve come that that number feels like a bit of a letdown. The season average drops a tad down to 2767. Come out on Friday and help us to further embarrass all the teams from higher divisions that we are more popular than.

ICYMI

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More coverage of the tribute from MLive.

Rust Belt Derby will be decided on Wednesday. City will retain the trophy if they can avoid a large defeat (apparently by 5+ goals), but how bout we just win the game anyway?

Conference Races Current Standings

Great Lakes West: City’s loss to the Stars means they will have to work a little harder to earn a trip to the playoffs. The current standings (as of 7/8) look like this: Lansing (24 pts., 12 GP), Detroit (23 pts., 11 GP), Indiana (21 pts., 12 GP). City must play 3 games in 5 days, while Lansing and Indy play Fri/Sun. sets. Lansing hosts Indy and Detroit – the final game of the season may be for the conference title.

Great Lakes East: Buffalo is mathematically out and Erie still has a shot but it’s basically down to Fort Pitt (20 pts., 12 GP) and Cleveland (18 pts., 12 GP). They play each other on Wednesday, and Cleveland must get at least a point to stay alive.

Central: Quad City fell to the Minnesota United Reserves over the weekend, narrowing the gap between them to just 3 points. QC only needs a point against lowly Eau Claire to clinch first place.

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