Barring any late additions, Detroit City’s 2017 roster has been set and can now be examined in detail. I always use the season preview series of posts to discuss each position group and individual player, so this post will look more at the team as a whole. The full, current roster can be found HERE.
With the year-to-year roster turnover that occurs naturally in an amateur league, there is plenty of competition at every position on an annual basis. With that said, these are the three areas of City’s squad where that competition should be most pronounced.
One of the biggest struggles for last year’s team was finding a consistent, go-to goalscorer. Some players showed flashes but none could produce game-in, game-out, over the course of the full season. Ben Pirmann has addressed this by bringing in six newcomers to compete at the position. Shawn Lawson returns after two years away from the club, and his talent plus that added experience and development make him my preliminary favorite to start. Among his chief competitors is the most intriguing prospect on the roster at any position, Roddy Green. Coming off his freshman season at Saginaw Valley in which he scored 7 goals, Green combines good size (6’1”) with blazing speed, and may have the most upside of any striker on the team.
Equally troublesome as striker, goalkeeper turned into a revolving door in 2016, partially due to inconsistency, and also because of player availability issues. One of the top items on my wishlist for this upcoming season was a true, full-time, #1 keeper. This wish appears to have been fulfilled with the addition of Providence’s Colin Miller. I also liked what I saw from Nate Steinwascher in his limited action last year, though (particularly his performance against Louisville City in the U.S. Open Cup), so I believe the starting spot is still up for grabs. Regardless of who emerges, this has the potential to be a very good 1-2 combination.
Somewhat surprisingly, last year’s breakout player Omar Sinclair is not on the roster for 2017. Competing for the vacant starting role will be three seasoned college players, Zach Bock (WMU), Stephen Carroll (Davenport), and Owain Hoskins (St. Edwards – TX). Bock is the most decorated – 2016 First Team All-MAC – but Carroll and Hoskins bring more size to the position and have legitimate chances of pairing with Seb Harris once the season begins.
Biggest Strength/Area of Concern
Strength – Despite team results, the attacking midfield trio of Jeff Adkins – Tommy Catalano – Cyrus Saydee was brilliant at times last year. Along with Danny Deakin, now of Orlando City, they were the catalysts of the best passing and possession soccer that City has ever played. The problem was that many of the chances they created were wasted by ineffective forward play. I don’t expect any drop-off from those three, and I also expect Spiro Pliakos and Andrew Dalou to play big roles after limited time in 2016.
Concern – As discussed above, goalkeeper has a couple of quality players competing for the #1 role. Until we get more data, particularly with regard to their full-time/part-time status, it remains the biggest question mark on the team.
Going into 2016, I was a little worried about the depth on defense, but I thought the rest of the team looked solid and that a playoff berth was a reasonable expectation. Lots of things went wrong, obviously, but I think Ben Pirmann has done an outstanding job retooling his roster. The areas of weakness, particularly striker and goalkeeper, appear to have been addressed, but what stands out the most is the apparent emphasis on adding players who will be with the team throughout the entire season.
This is the first year of City’s existence in which it will have nobody from The University of Michigan on the roster. Although UM has provided the club with many excellent players over the years – Latif Alashe, Will Mellors-Blair, Tyler Arnone to name a few – their policy of pulling those players out with the season still ongoing really hindered City when it came time to push for and compete in the playoffs. Whereas in past years the club has housed 3-4 out of state players over the summer, word is that up to a dozen will be housed this season. The hope here is that more team continuity will result in greater familiarity and better overall performance over the course of the season. With no Open Cup obligation, City supporters are starving for a deep playoff run and a first Midwest title. The new approach to building the 2017 roster should increase those chances.
Lineup as of 3/20/17
If I had to pick a lineup out of the current roster to play a game today, here’s what I’d go with: