The Undead

Photo by Robert Sherman

Saturday, July 29th, 2017 – Detroit City FC 3 AFC Ann Arbor 2
2017 NPSL Midwest Champions

Photo by Robert Sherman

As someone who’s admittedly prone to hyperbole and assigning great significance to seemingly small events, even I couldn’t have foreseen the drama that’s played out over the past three weeks. My last post ended like this…

…the final two weeks will be laden with drama. A thrilling season now reaches its climax.

…but that hardly does it justice. Sort of like calling Beethoven’s 9th “a catchy track.”

In hindsight, though, maybe we should’ve seen something like this coming. There were signs all along the way. The wolfpack motif that’s emerged this season is an apt one – this City team started out as a group of individuals and evolved into a cohesive unit that moves as one and displays that proverbial killer instinct – but the true story of Detroit City 2017 is how they just refused to die.

Like a group of incredibly resilient zombies, they just kept coming… and coming… and coming.

Despite baseball bats to the head…

5/12 vs. Milwaukee – Down 3-2, Max Todd equalized in the 96th minute.
6/2 vs. Grand Rapids – Went down 1-0, came back to win 3-1.
6/4 at FC Indiana – Gave up 1-0 lead, scored twice more to win 3-1.
6/23 vs. Kalamazoo – Gave up 1-0 lead, Elijah Rice scored the winner in the 67th minute.

…and chainsaws hacking at their limbs…

6/25 at Milwaukee – Went down 1-0, equalized, Shawn Lawson scored the winner in the 84th minute.
7/9 at Lansing – Went down 1-0, came back to win 2-1 and clinch a playoff berth.
7/14 vs. Lansing – Went down 3-0, came back to draw 3-3 – Owain Hoskins equalized in the 87th minute.

…and shotgun blasts to the chest…

7/22 vs. Dakota – Went down 1-0, stormed back for a 5-1 rout.
7/28 vs. Duluth – Gave up 1-0 lead and went down 2-1, scored four unanswered to win 5-2.
7/29 vs Ann Arbor – Gave up 2-0 lead, Tyrone Mondi scored the winner in stoppage time.

…they survived them all. And not only have they survived, they’ve seemed to thrive under pressure. It’s as if surrendering leads and falling behind is all part of the plan to lull the opponent into a false sense of security and set up the inevitable comeback.

Perhaps more impressive than any single match this season is the turnaround from 2016. Much more so than individual talent, the biggest difference from last year to now has to be the massive increase in mental toughness and resilience of the team as a whole. For fostering this growth while at the same time integrating so many new players and managing the multitude of injuries and departures, Ben Pirmann and his staff deserve all the credit in the world.

They’ve also built a team that has “that look.” If you’re a fan of any sport you know what I mean. That look a team has when their movements are in synch, passes/plays are crisp and well-executed, adversity is dealt with calmly, and good things just happen for them. It’s the look that champions have.

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