Friday, June 23rd, 2017 – Detroit City FC FC 2 Kalamazoo FC 1
Sunday, June 25rd, 2017 – Milwaukee Torrent 1 Detroit City FC 2
As I write this I’m still recovering from Sunday-Monday’s 21 hour round-trip to Milwaukee. Being awake for one full day doesn’t just happen naturally – it’s something you have to make a conscious effort to do. And then, trying to explain it to someone who’s not in-the-know can be almost just as draining. I’ve written this post as a handy reference that I, or anyone else, can use the next time such an explanation is required.
Let’s start off with the basic question one would ask: “Why would you spend an entire day (or more) and travel hundreds of miles to watch an amateur soccer team?”
Reason #1: Chasing Moments
I’ve talked about this in some past posts, but the Cliffs Notes* version is that we go because we crave seeing moments of greatness live and in person. It’s one thing to watch it happen on a stream or as a video highlight, but seeing the buildup, payoff, and aftermath with your own eyes is far superior.
Reason #2: The Overall Experience
Aside from the actual soccer, the experience of traveling to new places while making friends and memories along the way is a reward in and of itself. I can’t help but shake my head when I see people who refuse to give DCFC a chance because it’s “beneath them” and who will only be satisfied by an MLS club. They’re sitting around waiting for something that may never even happen and missing out on potential lifelong relationships and memories in the process. For me personally, one of the worst feelings is that life is passing me by and I’m stuck on the proverbial hamster wheel. This happens more often than I’d like, but I know a sure way to get out of the rut is to break up the usual routine with a road trip. A little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay. It also means a great deal to the ones actualy playing on the field:
Reason #3: Sheer Ridiculousness and Laughable Absurdity
Home matches and in-state road trips have their share of weird, crazy moments, but nothing compares to what happens when state lines are crossed. From DCFC owners tossing beers over the fence to supporters at Cleveland (2012), to the high school-aged official/firetrucks/angry mom (Minn. Utd./Cincinnati/Fort Pitt – 2015), to being threatened with arrest by a toothless man – Indiana, three weeks ago, hilarity is somehow amplified outside of Michigan. It’s these little dashes of spice that add to already memorable trips and make them go down into legend.
The bus ride to and from Milwaukee was its own continuous stream of nonsensical amusement, but if I had to pick one out from the match itself it would have to be this guy:
He just showed up to do his weekly sprint workout and had no idea what was going on at the stadium that day, or even that a soccer team played in his town.
Bigger leagues may be more prestigious, they may have world-class players, and their games may be on TV, but I don’t care. I’ll take 13 hours on a bus, 3 points, and confused workout dudes.
*I always thought it was “Cliff Notes”, not “Cliffs Notes.” Mandela Effect?
(1) Tyrone Mondi is City’s best player. Starting off with the most sizzling Hot Take. Mondi is the focal point of City’s attack and for good reason – every time he touches the ball in the final third he makes something happen, whether it’s beating his man 1v1, laying it off to an overlapping teammate, or making a dangerous pass into the box. He’s getting an assist almost every game and his connection with Shawn Lawson is lethal. Sunday’s game winner was a perfect example of his play:
He wins the loose ball from Milwaukee’s left back, puts the remaining defenders in an awkward position, and slides a perfect through-ball to Lawson that results in a breakaway. He’s been stellar from the moment he stepped on the field as a sub against Glentoran. If I had to pick a Black Arrow Award winner today it would be him.
(2) The attacking lineup is the best City’s ever had. Will Mellors-Blair and Zach Myers are the two most productive strikers in City history, but none of their teams had such a depth of attacking talent as the current one: Lawson, Mondi, Saydee, Otim, Green, Todd, Moorman, and now Elijah Rice – not one weak player among them. Lawson has the most goals, but the threat can come from anywhere up front, which makes it tough for opposing defenses to focus on any particular individual.
(3) Center midfield is being weakened by departures. Louis Dargent and Aaron Franco are done for the season, and although Luke Hauswirth is a welcome addition, the overall picture isn’t as rosy as it once was. There seemed to be an inordinate number of giveaways and misplaced passes from midfielders this weekend. Hopefully that can be ironed out in time for the final stretch of matches against Ann Arbor and Lansing.
(4) Of the remaining schedule, 4 or 5 matches are at home – beginning with FC Indiana tonight. While City’s current 6-match league winning streak is impressive, it’s even more so when you consider that 4 of those wins came away from Keyworth.
My overall confidence level is greatly determined by the number of quality scoring chances each team has over the course of a match. In 2016 and at the beginning of this year, City and their opponents appeared to be, on average, about even in this department. Now it’s typically 2-3 for the opponent and 6-10 for City. That number is based purely on my observations and is in no way scientific, but I will say I haven’t felt this confident about a City team since 2013. The equalizing goal scored on Friday by Kalamazoo and the opening goal scored on Sunday by Milwaukee would’ve crushed last year’s team. This time they felt more like speedbumps. Bigger tests loom but that feels very encouraging.