To Live Forever

Photo by Dion Degennaro

Sunday, June 11th, 2017 – Kalamazoo FC 0 Detroit City FC 1

Photo by Dion Degennaro

On Sunday afternoon I played a rec-league soccer game in surface-of-Venus-esque heat. It went very poorly, both for me individually and my team collectively. After the final whistle, coated in a wonderful mixture of sweat, sunscreen, and dirt, I immediately hopped in my car and drove to Kalamazoo, making it there just prior to kickoff.

I don’t tell you this to show off my purity and virtue as a supporter (okay, maybe just a teeny bit), but to paint a picture of my peculiar mental state. I’m slightly obsessed with soccer, and though I wish I could say it’s a completely healthy obsession, the fact that I risked potential dehydration, heat illness, and wicked sunburn says otherwise.

So why did I do it? Why do any of us go to such lengths for this club? Is it because soccer fans are freakin’ nuts? Partially. Is it because City supporters have become sort of an extended family centered around something that gives us pride in our community? That’s a big reason, but I think there’s another – something more fundamental that we’re not fully aware of until we stop to consider it.

In a piece earlier this year, Sean Spence wrote the following, a message from supporters to players:

All we ask is everything you’ve got… All we offer is adulation and a certain kind of immortality.

At a base, subconscious level, I believe we follow City home and away to bear witness to the moments that result in immortalization – the things we talk about years after the fact, those little details that become pieces of lore. We’re junkies for the extraordinary and the absurd.

While the win over Kalamazoo didn’t produce a Firetruck or Lansing-breaking moment, it provided further evidence of a team that is coming together and looking ever more dangerous. Scoring a highlight-reel goal or faking out a local municipal service are both legitimate ways to be remembered, but so is working your tail off for the full match in rec-player-wilting conditions – the proverbial 90’ in 90°.

String a few more of those together and your name just may go down in history.

BIR Bullets

(1) The Defense put in its best performance thus far, recording the first clean sheet of the season. Not just that, they only really allowed one or two quality chances to Kalamazoo in the entire match. For the first time in what feels like forever, the back four + goalkeeper is starting to feel like a cohesive unit. Glass/Kenton – Bock – Carroll – Sinclair + Miller it is; bigger tests now await them.

(2) Striker Confirmed Shawn Lawson scored for the 3rd straight league match and 4th overall. He’s the #1 striker now and it would be best to keep feeding him. I also don’t think it’s any coincidence that as the midfield is gelling, he’s getting more and more opportunities. He could’ve had at least one or two other goals but wasn’t able to finish those chances.

(3) Miscellaneous The work ethic of the whole team was outstanding, especially given the brutal heat. In particular, Roddy Green was a force as a second-half sub. He ran down every ball in his area and put Kalamazoo’s defenders under relentless pressure, causing multiple turnovers that resulted in quality chances for City. Sending him and Dave Edwardson into matches with 20-30 minutes remaining is masterful strategy from Ben Pirmann. Their energy is infectious and lifts the play of those around them.

The passing was quick and crisp with a good mix of short and long. It’s obvious that the players are getting their tactics and positioning down and are much more comfortable playing together than at the beginning of the season.

A couple minor quibbes: corners need some work – most were either too short or too long. Through-balls and final passes/touches in the box were lacking; at least a couple more goals were left on the field.

(4) K-Zoo Shenanigans At halftime we were notified that several Kalamazoo players complained about being “singled out” by NGS. They clearly didn’t read my Mental Warfare post. As George W. Bush would say, Mission Accomplished.

(5) Saturday’s Match at Grand Rapids is crucial. If City wins they can keep Lansing within striking distance, but a draw or loss and continued good results from Lansing may make the gap too big to close. The current table:

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