The First Five Years – Best Matches

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(5a) May 7th, 2014 – Detroit City FC 2 RWB Adria 2 (RWB Adria wins 3-1 on penalties AET)
(5b) May 18th, 2016 – Louisville City FC 1 Detroit City FC 1 (Louisville wins 3-1 on penalties AET)

For the fifth best match in Detroit City history, I cheated and picked two that are similar to the point of being nearly identical. At the time, each marked a new high-water mark for City in the U.S. Open Cup – the first as the club’s debut in the competition, the second as its first 2nd-round foray.

In the first match, RWB Adria took the lead in the 7th minute and held it deep into the second half, making it seem as though they’d successfully suffocated the City attack. Tyler Arnone equalized in the 70th minute, though, and things really erupted just six minutes later:

Frustratingly, Adria equalized in stoppage time after a goalmouth scramble. In the ensuing extra period, the play devolved into a string of cheap shots and chippy challenges, and each team finished with 9 men on the field due to a mix of red cards and injuries. Although Adria took the penalty shootout 3-1, I’ll remember the match for its epic, high-stakes feel, and for its damp, chilly evening aesthetic which called to mind so many of the European night matches you see on TV and wonder how it feels to experience an atmosphere like that.

Video and photo by Michael Kitchen

The trip to Louisville City proved to be just as much of a fight to the bitter end. After the regulation 90 minutes finished 0-0, extra time was filled with heart-stopping moments. First came a Nate Steinwascher penalty save:

Then a Seb Harris header that made an improbable victory seem within reach:

And finally a Louisville City equalizer which brought everyone back down to earth.

The penalty shootout gave more hope in the form of a pair of saves from Steinwascher, but a couple City misses and a save from the Louisville keeper proved too much to overcome.

A loss, but an incredible match in its own right.

(4) May 15th, 2015 – Detroit City FC 3 AFC Cleveland 2

Just two days after a humbling 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Michigan Bucks in the U.S. Open Cup, Detroit City opened its 2015 regular season at home against Cleveland. It was the first meeting between the clubs since City’s 3-1 victory in the semifinal of the 2013 Great Lakes Playoffs.

After Colin McAtee gave City an early lead, the teams traded goals until Cleveland knotted the score at 2-2 just after halftime. With time waning and an underwhelming start to the season staring his team in the face, Seb Harris scored a signature header in the 88th minute and City held on for the win on opening night.

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The First Five Years – Best Goals

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(5) WMB Toe Rocket (2014 vs. Cincinnati)

(4) Jeff Adkins Slalom (2014 vs. Indiana Fire)

Reverse Angle:

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The First Five Years – Best XI

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Subs (7): Knox Cameron (ST), Keith Lough (LW/RW/Att. Mid.), Tom Catalano (Att. Mid), Kevin Taylor (CM), Nick Lewin (LB/RB/CB), Adam Bedell (CB), Jeremy Clark (GK)

Discussion: Picking the Best XI was pretty easy. The only real dilemmas I had were between Jeff Adkins and Keith Lough at winger, and Seb Harris vs. Adam Bedell at centerback. Those two matchups were about even in terms of levels of play and the impact they had on the club, so I went with Adkins and Harris based on their overall body of work.

The subs were a little more difficult. Some may object to the inclusion of Knox Cameron, but he was responsible for a bucket of goals in 2012 and 2013, and only WMB and Zach Myers were better strikers. Kevin Taylor also remains for now. One more strong season from Troy Watson could bump him out of that spot, though. At defender, I decided to drop Zeke Harris and keep Nick Lewin, who was absolutely crucial to City’s defense its first three seasons and remains the most underrated player in club history.

Further On Up The Road

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break

Where the road is dark, and the seed is sowed

1
Where the gun is cocked, and the bullet’s cold
Where the miles are marked in the blood and the gold

2

I’ll meet you further on up the road.

Got on my dead man’s suit, and my smilin’ skull ring
My lucky graveyard boots, and a song to sing

3

I got a song to sing, it keeps me out of the cold

4

And I’ll meet you further on up the road.

Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Where the way is dark and the night is cold

5

One sunny mornin’ we’ll rise I know

6

And I’ll meet you further on up the road.

Now I been out in the desert, just doin’ my time
Searchin’ through the dust, lookin’ for a sign

7

If there’s a light up ahead, well brother I don’t know
But I got this fever burnin’ in my soul.

8

Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Further on up the road

9

One sunny mornin’ we’ll rise I know
And I’ll meet you further on up the road.

10

end

Speramus Meliora

Sunday, July 10th, 2016 – Detroit City FC 1 Lansing United 3
Friday, July 15th, 2016 – Detroit City FC 1 Michigan Stars 2

Photo by Jon DeBoer
Photo by Jon DeBoer

Detroit City’s 2016 season consists of two divergent narratives. The first is one of smashing success – the saving of a historic stadium, continued building of massive inroads into the local community, significant growth in the club’s overall stature. The second one speaks of missed opportunities and a team that never quite came together.

Down to the very last minute of the very last match, they were still trying to figure it out – how to break down an opponent who packs the box, how to defend the counter-attack, how to just… make it work.

After the final, merciful whistle, long-time whipping boys Michigan Stars walked off the field with their biggest victory in club history, looking suitably pleased with themselves. Adding in the previous Sunday’s events at DeMartin Stadium, a.k.a. “The Field of Screams,” every single Michigan club in City’s conference got a good strong gut punch in over the course of the season (Ann Arbor didn’t get a win but they came from behind to earn a draw and put a damper on opening night at Keyworth). The sting is extra-painful since it can be argued that each and every one of those clubs owes its very existence to DCFC.

Yet, as I’ve pointed out many times over the duration of the blog’s existence, winning does not necessarily equate to a healthy club at this level. That may sound like I’m trying to make excuses and downplay the team’s on-field struggles, which is fair, but the point still stands. Despite an underwhelming league campaign, City grew by leaps and bounds as a club in 2016.

The Keyworth Stadium project was an unqualified success, made even more impressive in that the entire process – from securing the lease to the community investment, construction, and re-opening – only took around nine months. Once the east stand is finished, a new field is installed, and some small aesthetic touchups are made, City will have a home that should last it for the foreseeable future.

Increased media coverage and healthy attendance growth (regular season average of 5208 in ‘16 vs. 3528 in ’15) raised the club’s profile even further, and the culture of community outreach continued unabated. The Special Olympics soccer game at halftime of Friday’s match, in particular, was one of the most heartwarming and pride-inspiring moments ever orchestrated by DCFC and NGS.

DeBoer
DeBoer

That being said, the on-field play must improve next year. Going toe-to-toe with the MLS project, two down seasons in a row could hamper fanbase growth, one of the most important factors driving City’s development. A playoff appearance in 2017 is the bare necessity, and getting to the national final four is a completely reasonable expectation. Specific goals aside, the overall aim of next season should be to ensure that 2016 is remembered as a bump in the road rather than the start of a trend.

end