Friday, May 20th, 2016 – Detroit City FC 1 AFC Ann Arbor 1
For many of us, it seems that few things in our life work out the way we plan them, and even fewer of those things turn out better than we expect. Chalk it up to poor planning, bad luck, or the general randomness of the universe; at certain points it feels like everything’s an uphill battle and any good fortune we come across is a complete fluke.
Sometimes, though, things just click, and everything hums along much more smoothly than seems reasonable. If Detroit City FC was a person, you would hate them. You’d hate Mr./Mrs. Deecee Effsee because everything would just seem to work for them and they’d be a walking embodiment of the saying, “Some people have all the luck.”
You’d be wrong, of course. DCFC’s success as an organization was not immediate and it didn’t come out of thin air. It’s been years in the making, each new progression built on the foundation of previous accomplishments. Accordingly, on a yearly basis, City tends to face a new challenge, each one bigger than the last. In 2012, the battle was simply for sustainability, in 2013 it was against another NPSL club in its very backyard, and after that came Dan Duggan and the (sort of) threat of a USL team. Each of these was soundly defeated, and the MLS to Detroit plot is just the boss that’s come at the end of the level we’re currently playing.
After the initial gut-punch of the Gilbert-Gores announcement, I thought a little more and realized that our situation is much different from that of Atlanta or Cincinnati. The support for City runs much deeper than that of the Silverbacks or Saints ever did. It’s taken root and grown exponentially, year in and year out. The momentum that’s built up over four-plus years is too strong for the club to be extinguished by an MLS usurper. If such a franchise actually does come into existence, it may put a cap on City’s potential growth, but it won’t be the end of the movement that’s been established.
Moreover, after the experience of Friday night, MLS may turn out to be the underdog in this race. By 2020 (the earliest timetable put forward by the MLS2Detroit crew), DCFC may very well be playing in the NASL, in a fully renovated and expanded Keyworth Stadium, drawing upwards of 12,000 people per game. If return on investment is a primary concern for GilGo, entering into a market with a strong direct competitor may suddenly look a lot less attractive than it did when they first hatched their plan.
Regardless, the events of the last several weeks have demonstrated, beyond any doubt, the loyalty and devotion of City’s ownership, staff, coaches, players, and supporters. Friday’s attendance – 7410 – blew away everyone’s expectations and obliterated the previous record for a U.S. D-4 regular season match (5100). Throw in the $740,000 invested in Keyworth and the countless hours dedicated to its renovation, beautification, and tifo-ication, and it’s evident that there’s a concerted effort to make Year Five as special as possible.