Saturday, July 11th, 2015 – Detroit City FC 3, Michigan Stars 1
Baby, Please Don’t Go We saw flashes of it last year (see what I did there?), but in his second season Will Mellors-Blair has become the most dangerous attacking player in City’s history. His most obvious asset, his speed, is a nightmare for even the quickest defenders, but his ball control, dribbling, and finishing are what make him such a dynamic threat. He’s your 2015 Black Arrow Award winner; even though the voting has yet to take place, he could sit out every remaining game this season and nobody else would even come close.
The problem is, he very well may have just played his final game of the season. Word is that UM head coach Chaka Daley wants his players to rest and recuperate right around this time of year so that they come back to preseason training healthy and fresh. This is completely reasonable and understandable, and I’m sure most college coaches would agree with his line of thinking.
I’m not sure what say WMB has in the matter, but if he has future professional aspirations, I would argue that playing as the lead striker for a team looking to compete for an NPSL championship is a fantastic opportunity to increase his profile and gain exposure. It’s a tough situation, but hopefully it can be resolved with as little difficulty as possible.
Contingency Plans If he does have to shut it down, things get awfully dicey for City. What appeared to be a strength at the beginning of the season (attacking depth) has become an area of concern, mainly due to injuries. Zach Myers has been absent for most of the year, and in the couple games he got into, he clearly wasn’t healthy. Javi Ramirez should be getting closer to a return from his knee surgery, but it would be unfair to expect him to come in and immediately return to the level he showed before he got hurt.
In the event of a WMB departure (as well as James Murphy, another UM forward), City’s strikers are as follows: Tyler Channell, Charlie MacInnes, Wade Allan. That’s just not enough depth to make a title run, and if you take away WMB’s dynamism, City go from favorites to win the Midwest tournament to just about even with whichever other three teams make the playoff. If Jeff Adkins could be pried away from the Bucks it would help, but as it stands now it appears Ben Pirmann may soon have to get creative with his lineups.
New Cardinals The aforementioned Channell has provided strong hold-up play and chipped in a couple goals this season, and his college teammate Alexandre Bouillennec has noticeably improved over his past several games in goal, but among this year’s SVSU newcomers, the one that has stood out the most has been Troy Watson.
And by stand out, I refer to the quality of his play, not how noticeable he is on the field, because most of the time you hardly realize he’s out there. If you watch closely however, you can see what a big impact he has on games – primarily in breaking up attacks and closing down the ball to slow or derail opposing runs.
The gif above shows a typical moment from him – chasing down his man after a nice 1-2, easing him off the ball, eluding a would-be tackler, and playing a simple pass out to the flank.
His play helps shield the back line and I think it’s one of the main reasons why team defending has improved so much from where it was last year and early on in this season.
Fashion Police I’m not gonna beat the proverbial dead horse about Stars coach Mark Christensen’s criminal past. You can read all about it here if you so desire. What I WILL do is talk about his most recent offense, the crime against fashion he committed on Saturday:
Yes that is a t-shirt under a suit coat, and yes that is a gold chain.
The day Caesar wears a t-shirt with a sport coat is the day he’s given up on life for good.
Attendance 3884 is the new home record. Every time the mark is broken, I think: “So that’s what Cass’ real capacity is. No way we can fit any more.” At this point, though, we might as well go for 4000. I’m sure there’s enough standing room to make it happen. Fire marshal shmire shmarshal.
Standings & Playoff Picture With Sunday’s results, City has officially clinched a spot in the Midwest tournament. They still have work to do if they want to play said tournament at Cass, though. The current table:
Madison is also in, and it’s down to Buffalo, Cleveland, and Indy Fire for the final two spots.
Your Moment of Zen As a footnote, I have to mention The Lansing United’s zero-point weekend, capped off by a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of AFC Cleveland. After going unbeaten in its first 7, TLU has now lost 4 in a row by a combined score of 9-0 and has been eliminated from playoff contention. The hip thing seems to be posting a picture/gif/video that metaphorically represents this epic collapse, so I thought I’d join in the fun.