Grown Apart

Friday, May 15th, 2015 – Detroit City FC 3, AFC Cleveland 2

Photo by Dion Degennaro
Photo by Dion Degennaro

Almost precisely three years prior to Friday’s match, Cleveland and Detroit met for the very first time. Both were brand new clubs playing in the NPSL Midwest, both represented fairly large Rust Belt cities with similar demographics, and both were looking to capitalize on markets that were essentially devoid of soccer, professional or amateur.

In those ensuing three years, one club has grown by leaps and bounds while the other has remained at about the same point it started. There’s no shame in that at all – if your club lasts more than a year or two at this level you’ve definitely done something right – but why is it that one flourishes while the other is basically stagnant?

Like City, Cleveland has a supporters’ group with actual supporters (though obviously fewer), they are engaged in their community, and their new kits look pretty sharp. After racking my brain, I’ve come to a conclusion that you’ll likely never hear from most smug, know-it-all sports commentators: I don’t really know.

The best I can come up with is, “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” You can try to duplicate methods, eliminate variables, and pour time, effort, and money into a project and at the end of the day things just might not click.

This has been said before and it will be said again until such time as he takes the hint, but if Dan Duggan* thinks plopping a pro team downtown will magically result in a City-like level of passion, support, and success, it’s a wonder anyone would consider investing in his project in the first place.

Mann, Wright, & Co. came together at the right time in the right place and caught lightning in a bottle. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it really really really works.

*I’ll do my best not to mention him too much this season, but it will be tough since it seems our fates are becoming more and more intertwined.

breakRandom Thoughts

The Game A win is a win, and while it may not have been a thing of beauty, it got the job done. Since I care about our planet, I constructed that last sentence out of 100% recycled sports clichés.

Seriously, though, coming back just two days after a crushing and emotionally draining loss, you take those 3 points however you can get them. In a 13-team division with 12-game schedules, there isn’t going to be much separation come the end of the season, so every point grabbed is a boost.

The Defense 5 goals allowed in 2 games obviously isn’t ideal, but it’s not entirely unexpected since there’s a lot of shuffling going on as Pirmann tries to figure out his best combination. Of the back four who started on Friday, only one (Bennett Jull) remained a constant throughout the match. When Isaevski replaced Rogers, Schewee flipped from left to right back and Seb Harris moved into the center with Jull.

Jull, by the way, looked very good, winning nearly every header he went up for. It probably helped that for half of those he was going up against 5’4” (which seems generous) Antonio Manfut.

Also, Seb Harris looks like a completely different player than last year when he never really stood out. It wasn’t just the goal, his overall play has been consistently strong from the beginning of preseason to now.

I like the players they have here and I think they’ll be fine in the long run. The key will be to minimize mistakes enough for the team to get results while things get figured out on the fly.

That Goal Speaking of Harris’ goal, here it is from another angle:

The Supporters After last Wednesday and Friday, the two loudest, most electric atmospheres I’ve ever been a part of, where do we go from here?

As impressive as this looks from the outside…

Photo by Marielle Temkin
Photo by Marielle Temkin

…being in the thick of it is something else altogether. After a couple years of being exposed to this, going to other sporting events now excites me only slightly more than going to a restaurant (depending on the restaurant).

PirmannWear™ Couldn’t find a picture of the man himself, but there was this:

Photo by Dion Degennaro
Photo by Dion Degennaro

As a history nerd and quote enthusiast, this got me doubly giddy.

Update: Purple two-tone:

CFUuzvxW0AMyzhX

Up Next A trip to Buffalo where a win will clinch a third-consecutive Rust Belt Derby title and a draw or loss will make things messy and complicated. I’ll take Door #1, please.

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