Season Preview 2017: Attacking Midfielders & Wingers

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Adkins, Saydee, Catalano

PART I: Delirium   PART II: Forwards

ATTACKING MIDFIELD & WING

Adkins, Saydee, Catalano

The attacking midfield was Detroit City’s strongest area last season, and there’s a chance it could be even better in 2017. In the starting trio of Jeff Adkins – Tommy Catalano – Cyrus Saydee, City has three players who are in the primes of their careers and have played together extensively. Along with the departed Danny Deakin, they were responsible for some of the best soccer the club has ever played in terms of quick, sharp passing, maintaining of possession, and threatening buildup. They will generate plenty of offense; the hope here is that a striker comes to the forefront who can get on the end of those chances and finish them at a regular clip.

Starting off with the reigning Black Arrow Award winner, Tommy Catalano returns for his third season. With the ineffectiveness at forward last year, he was thrust into that spot for several games and ended up the leading the team in goals with 5. Now, with a boatload of strikers arriving to restock the position, he should be able to move back into a more natural attacking midfield role. He’s played out wide at times, but I think he’s at his best playing above the center midfielders and underneath the striker. There he can make the most use of his passing abilities, as well as his skill shooting from distance.

Although Catalano took home the Black Arrow, I thought Jeff Adkins made just as strong a case for the award, if not more so. He was City’s most consistently dangerous attacker over the course of the season, routinely making opposing fullbacks look silly trying to cover him.

His combination of speed, dribbling ability, and finishing make him an irreplaceable piece in the front four. He’s at the top of his game right now and only seems to be getting better.

Cyrus Saydee looked a bit rusty at the beginning of 2016, but he picked it up in the second half of the season, most memorably in the match at Ann Arbor. There he almost singlehandedly flipped a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 victory to keep City’s playoff hopes alive. If you’ve followed this club for any reasonable amount of time you know his M.O. by now – small (5’6”) but an elite dribbler and controller of the ball, not to mention a very good passer. Fun fact: he’s been on the team since the very beginning in 2012 and still only just turned 25.

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Season Preview 2017: Forwards

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Lawson, Todd, Green

PART I: Delirium

Note 1: All position previews address the roster as it currently exists.

Note 2: In the case of players who play multiple positions, I’ve listed them at their primary spot (or at least what I think it is based on the information available).

Note 3: Official DCFC Roster page is here.

FORWARD/STRIKER

Lawson, Todd, Green

It’s no fun to start off the position previews on a down note, but the unfortunate reality is that forward was a weak spot for Detroit City in 2016. Javi Bautista and Tyler Channell weren’t able to build on the promise they showed in 2015 and no other striker was able to step up and become a go-to option. Case in point, City’s leading goal scorer for the year turned out to be Tommy Catalano, nominally an attacking midfielder.

To address the need for offense Ben Pirmann went to work and restocked the position with a bevy of new players, but I’ll start off with the lone returner. Tyler Moorman is primarily a forward, but he saw time at nearly every field position last year and is undoubtedly the team’s most versatile player. His signature match came away to Ann Arbor where he started at right back and helped keep prolific scorer Dario Suarez quiet, then moved up to forward and scored the winning goal in a 3-1 comeback. As the tallest atacker on the roster (6’3”), he should see plenty of time in situations that call for a target man up top, and I also expect him to reprise his role as the team’s Swiss Army Knife.

When last we left Shawn Lawson, he was snapping ankles and humiliating defenders en route to scoring the 2014 NPSL Goal of the Year:

After spending 2013 and 2014 with DCFC, Lawson turned out for the Des Moines Menace (2015), Michigan Stars (2016), and Jamaican U-23 national team. He brings some much needed finishing ability to the roster, as well as plenty of creativity.

He showed several flashes of brilliance in his first stint with City, so I’m excited to see what he can do now that he has a few more years of experience under his belt. I’ve penciled him in as my Matchday #1 starter, but he’ll face plenty of competition from Moorman and several talented newcomers.

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Season Preview 2017: Delirium

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Photo by Jon DeBoer
Photo by Jon DeBoer

I stood alone on a pristine green field. A cloud of smoke hung heavy in the cool night air and I smelled the freshly cut grass beneath my feet. Off in the distance, a deer with an impressive set of antlers spotted me and bolted away as fast as he could. As the wind blew, I caught an echo of voices…

“Who are ya? Who are ya? Who are ya?

I turned to my left and circled around expecting to see a crowd of people, but no one was there.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something moving toward me. A chill went up my spine as I saw a blurry, shifting mass. It reminded me of a badly out of focus photo, but it was constantly fluctuating and seemed to be taking the vague shape of a person.

It first appeared as a Spartan warrior, then became a giant version of his helmet. Next it appeared as a five-pointed star, and then finally returned to its original shapeless form.

I don’t know why it was there, but I got the vague feeling that it wanted to fight me. After a few minutes of nothing happening, I decided to walk away. The mass followed and I could tell that it was trying to shape itself in my image but was failing horribly.

I ran, reaching a wooded area with tall trees. Dead leaves crunched underfoot as I moved deeper into the forest. I was alone once again.

Except, that is, for the animals that called this place home. In the moonlight I could see a squirrel climbing down from its nest.

When it caught sight of me, rather than running away it came right up, slowly growing and growing as it got closer. It stood up on its hind legs. With the voice of a prepubescent boy it began to speak.

“You suck,” it said.

I responded with the universal statement of the bewildered.

“Um, what?”

“I said you suck. Your team missed the playoffs, your stadium is a pile of rubble, and your city is dead.”

Reflexively, I responded. “Well it’s true we had a down year but we’ll bounce back… Wait! You’re a squirrel. Why am I arguing with a freakin’ squirrel?”

It continued, undeterred. “You don’t even watch the games. You just go to act tough and get your picture taken. Your team can’t defend the counter. Your club will be gone in a few years.”

On he went, staring at me with his beady little eyes. Suddenly he lunged at me, baring his sharp teeth.

A mighty ax appeared in my hand and I rose up to defend myself. The shining steel shone in the moonlight as I swung it downward, cleaving the rodent in two. Its halves transformed into little whiffs of black smoke and vanished.

When the smoke cleared I noticed that I was in a clearing with a line of trees on either side and an island of them in the middle. I heard the rumble of hundreds of footfalls as a grand army of blue and white marched from right to left across the field. On and on and on they went in a seemingly endless mass.

I stepped forward, and as they took no notice of me, I walked alongside to get a better idea of their numbers. Much to my surprise, they were marching in a circle around the island of trees. From my previous vantage point, this had given the illusion that their host was many thousands strong. I now realized that the actual number was much lower. I’m not sure who they were trying to fool, but I knew their ruse wouldn’t be effective for very long.

Suddenly, I felt myself falling. Down and down I went, the previous visions flooding my mind, twisted and distorted.

With a flash of light I found myself on a field much the same as the first, yet here the midday sun blazed down and I felt a stifling heat. The setting seemed idyllic. Up above, strips of clouds lined the sky – rows of light blue and white stretching to the horizon.

Taking a step forward, though, I realized that the ground was littered with corpses. Some were fresh, others just skeletons that appeared to have been there for years. All wore shirts of darkened red.

I bent down to get a better look at the poor fellow closest to me. An eerie feeling crept over me and my heart began to race.

His eyes opened.

Shocked and horrified, I recoiled and stumbled, falling backwards. Everything went black.

—–

I awoke in a cold sweat, gasping for breath, my heart still pounding. Sitting up in the darkness, my mind was filled with the images I’d seen. They seemed so real, but they couldn’t have been… Could they?

I reached for the rouge and gold scarf hanging from the bedpost and pulled myself out of bed. Those things must’ve been products of a fever dream, terrors of some forgotten past that never really was.

I walked to the window and drew the curtain. It was early and quiet. The first light of day turned the horizon into a swath of purples and blues as it began to chase the darkness away. Wrapping the soft scarf around my neck, I caught the scent of sulfur in the air. My pulse returned to normal and I felt a growing warmth within.

A new day had come.

Quick Updates: 2017 Season Preview & More

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The blog has gone radio-silent for a couple weeks, but there’s a very good reason for that: I’ve been hard at work in the BIRcave putting together the 2017 Season Preview. This series has grown in size each year I’ve done it…

2014: 2335 words
2015: 2981 words
2016: 5716 words
2017: 4509 words and counting (5 posts complete, 4 or 5 more to go)

…so I asked you, my smart, talented, beautiful readers, how you’d like the preview deployed. The results:

In accordance with your wishes, here’s the posting schedule:

Monday, 5/1: Intro Piece
Tuesday, 5/2: Forwards
Wednesday, 5/3: Attacking Midfielders & Wingers
Thursday, 5/4: Center Midfielders
Friday, 5/5: Fullbacks

Monday, 5/8: Centerbacks
Tuesday, 5/9: Goalkeepers
Wednesday, 5/10: Team Overview
Thursday, 5/11: Predictions
Friday, 5/12: (Not sure, still figuring this one out…)

Also, about ten years late, I’ve finally decided to make use of Facebook and YouTube.

The link to the BIR Facebook page can be found HERE, as well as on the right sidebar —–> Please boost my Internet Ego by liking and sharing.

The YouTube channel is HERE. I have not received expressed written consent from Detroit City FC or the National Premier Soccer League to use their footage, but hopefully it won’t be a problem.

Lastly, I’ve never asked for donations before and it feels a little weird, but with hosting, themes, plugins, and other software and services that I’ve implemented to try and make the blog the best that it can be, those little costs here and there tend to add up. If you enjoy the blog and deem it worthy of your support, please consider chipping in a buck or multiple bucks. Every penny will go toward the site and all the little pieces mentioned above.

You can CLICK HERE to donate, or go to the Donate link at the top of the page, OR click the PayPal button on the right sidebar.

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for all your support!

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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