Detroit City has typically maintained a deep and talented roster from year-to-year. 2016 was an aberration, though. Partly because of player departures and partly because of injuries, the team limped to last season’s finish with several practice squad players seeing significant minutes. This isn’t meant as a criticism of those players, who earned their spots fair and square, but to seriously challenge for a conference title and beyond, you need to put out strong lineups each and every match.
The 2017 roster is a massive improvement from 2016, not just in depth but in overall quality.
A quick rundown of opening day numbers:
Jordan Kalk and Danny Dragoi were also announced as being on the 2016 roster but, except for one friendly appearance by Kalk, neither played with the team. If we take that into account and project that 2 or 3 players on the current roster may never actually appear, that still leaves the total number at 31 or 32, a substantial increase from last year, and one that was absolutely necessary.
Though I’ve mentioned this before, one more point to consider is the complete absence of players from the University of Michigan. While the school has provided City with great talents over the years (Will Mellors-Blair, Latif Alashe, Evan Louro, etc.), the practice of their college coaches pulling them from the team mid-summer was a major obstacle to City’s pursuit of Midwest and National titles.
No Wolverines, plus the word that about 12 out-of-state players are being housed for the summer, as opposed to 3 or 4 in years past, tells me that the coaching staff has built this roster with players who will be with the team from the first match until the very end. Having more players who are full-time commitments should help with team continuity and familiarity, and it’s the strategy that needed to be implemented in order for City to be a serious championship contender. Not only are there more players, most of them are starting-caliber. Ben Pirmann could roll out a starting XI made up solely of backups and I think they would still challenge for a playoff spot.
Starting up top, there are plenty of options at striker. I think Shawn Lawson gets first crack at the job, but he’ll have to fight hard to keep it with half a dozen other guys competing for playing time. The midfield has the chance to be the best City has ever rolled out, with a good mix of veterans and exciting new additions. With Adkins, Catalano, and Saydee orchestrating the attack, the strikers shouldn’t lack for goal scoring opportunities at all.
At the back, there is work to be done to rebound from a disappointing overall performance last season. Luckily, Pirmann has assembled a good group of defenders with which to work. It will take some trial and error to find the right back four, but the process should be made easier by the fact that there will be an elite college goalkeeper (or a very strong, veteran #2) playing behind them.