April 18, 2015: Saginaw Valley State University (friendly)

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April 18, 2015
Detroit City FC 3, Saginaw Valley State University 3
Friendly at Hurley Field, Berkley, MI

A new season.  This was the first of three friendlies played prior to the much anticipated U.S. Open Cup match against the Michigan Bucks.

I didn’t jot down the goal scorers, as I focused on getting back into the pace of shooting the game, and chatted with fellow NGS members after the 188 days since last we saw each other at Cass.  There were 1,012 fans in attendance, and four of the Saginaw Valley State University players in this match, found themselves wearing the Rouge and Gold during the 2015 season (Alexander Bouillennec, Troy Watson, Alex Isaevski, and Tyler Channell).

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Book Review: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

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In July, 2014, I visited New York City for the first time.  One day we spent book store shopping, during which we discovered Three Lives and Company in Greenwich Village.  The small, well-stocked book store had a table upon which back issues of literary magazines were for sale for a couple bucks a piece.  I picked up a copy of the Fall, 2012 edition of The Paris Review.  This was my first exposure to the legendary literary journal founded in 1953 by a group of American writers including George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, Harold L. Humes, Thomas Guinzburg, and Donald Hall.

One of the stories within the 202’nd edition was Disgust by Ottessa Moshfegh.  It opened with a 134-word paragraph which was a single sentence.  I thought that was rather unconventional.  No speakers or instructors at the writers conferences and workshops I’ve attended ever suggested that starting a short story with a 134-word sentence was a sure-fire way to get published.  I suppose you can get away with being unconventional if your writing is strong, which Ms. Moshfegh’s certainly is.  The protagonist in Disgust is the quirky, socially awkward Mr. Wu who has a crush on the woman who worked at the video game arcade, and his introverted schemes to make contact with her.

Upon returning home, I picked up the newest issue of The Paris Review, which was the 210’th edition – Fall, 2014.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

The Winter, 2014, 211’th edition included another story by Ottessa Moshfegh.  Slumming featured another quirky character, a high school English teacher who owned a summer home in Alna, a small town away from the city.  She tells of her interaction with the residents, like Clark who she paid to maintain and watch the house during the school year, the zombies (vagrant townsfolk) who sold meth and heroin at the bus station, and the very pregnant girl who Clark paid to clean the narrator’s house.  Again, the unusual characters drew me into the story.

In the September, 2015 Indie Next List flyer, Moshfegh’s debut novel, Eileen was promoted.  I purchased it at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until recently.  In the interim, The Paris Review‘s 214’th, Fall, 2015 edition contained Moshfegh’s short story, Dancing in the Moonlight.  The narrator, Nick, a Yale grad, falls for a woman selling her refurbished furniture in a pop-up market on the Lower East Side of New York, named Britt Wendt.  “That’s not a name, that’s the beginning of a sentence,” his oldest friend, Mark Lasky said when he told him.  Again, it was a well-crafted story involving unusual and engaging characters.

So here we are.  My name was Eileen Dunlop.  Now you know me.  I was twenty-four years old and had a job that paid fifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys.  I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes – a prison for children.  I will call it Moorehead.  Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to use his name for such a place feels appropriate.

In a week, I would run away from home and never go back.  This is the story of how I disappeared.

Eileen is a novel-length exploration inside the head of yet another unusual character, in a reflection of the event fifty years prior, in 1964, that caused her to run away from home.  As a result of her disappearance, Moshfegh’s narrator changed her identity , and masks the details of the New England town in which she was born, raised, and fled from.

Darkly funny and sad, Eileen lives with her father – a retired police officer – whose reputation keeps him from finding himself in jail from his drunken antics when he wanders from home.  Her mother had recently died, and her older sister, Joanie, lived with another man a few towns over, leaving Eileen to care for her unappreciative, intoxicated father.

Eileen was a social outcast, and the inner workings of her mind are creepily realistic.  The reader is placed in a position of feeling both uncomfortable and pity for the girl.  She thinks about leaving, about how her father, her sister, her co-workers, might feel if she were suddenly gone, but nothing moves her.  Until the correctional facility hired a new counselor – Rebecca St. John.

Rebecca is an educated, classier woman who is new to town and becomes friendly with Eileen.  This sparks a glimmer of hope for the narrator, a companion and friend.  Rebecca becomes the catalyst for Eileen’s disappearance.

Throughout the novel, the reader knows that something is going to happen to cause Eileen to leave town.  The ‘why’ she leaves, well, I did not see coming.

Like her three previously published short stories, Ottessa Moshfegh pulled me into the company of an unusual character, the kind of character I prefer to read about, and weaved a satisfying story within a gloomy environment in Eileen.

On Goodreads, I rated this novel a 4 out of 5.  I really liked it.

Sunday at Cass: June 13, 2015

Sunday at Cass
June 13, 2015

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I drove through a drizzle into Detroit for this Sunday morning at Cass.  But by the time I arrived, the rain stopped.  The only time we got wet was when the wind blew, causing the droplets on the leaves of the canopy of trees to lose their grip.

Last time, I had brought a platter of cookies that I purchased at Meijer the night before.  People gladly took them, however they were loose.  I was concerned that if not consumed at the park, they’d end up crumbs after being packaged with all the other food and supplies our guests take home.

I did something different this Sunday.  I bought four 20-count boxes of chocolate chip cookies at Meijer, along with a package of fifty zip-lock sandwich bags.  At a card table in my basement, with a turntable spinning vinyl, I packaged two cookies to a zip-lock bag, making them a little more convenient for our friends.

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It seemed to work well, and thus this has become my practice.

Chocolate chip cookies are my addiction.  And I refuse to recover.  I am especially addicted to Meijer’s chocolate chip cookies from their bakery.  The practice of placing two cookies in each bag, these delightful treats, with thoughtful intention, knowing they are going to be enjoyed by someone who needs them more than I, enhances appreciation for all that is around me.  I have been fortunate.  A small catastrophe, and I could be on the other side of the table.  Giving what I can, when I can, just feels right.  The fresh, chocolate aroma stimulating my senses, adds to the powerfully good feeling of giving them to our friends at Cass.

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July 23, 2014: Windsor Stars (friendly)/September 13, 2014: Ann Arbor FC (friendly)

July 23, 2014
Detroit City FC 0, Windsor Stars 0
Attendance:  3,020

September 13, 2014
Detroit City FC 2, Ann Arbor United 2
Cass Tech HS 5, Detroit Renaissance 2
Attendance:  ?

Sorry to disappoint with this one.  I attended both matches, but my camera did not.

In the friendly against Windsor, my camera stayed home, packed for our trip to New York City.  We left the next morning for our long drive and my first venture into the Big Apple, but it had a soccer component as well.  Among our site-seeing, we attended the friendly between Arsenal and the New York Red Bulls on July 26th at Red Bull Arena (NYRB 1, Arsenal 0)…

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…followed by a match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Yankee Stadium on July 30th (2-2, with Liverpool winning on PKs 3-1).

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The Windsor game was just a fun evening of hanging out with the Northern Guard, flavoring my outerwear with sulfur.

The September 13th game, however, was significantly different.

This was the first Detroit Public Schools Showcase which featured a friendly between Detroit City FC and Ann Arbor FC in the first match, followed by a league game for Cass Tech High School and Detroit Renaissance High School.  It was a fundraiser for the high school program, which did not exist until after Detroit City FC’s emergence in 2012.

In April of 2014, we purchased a house that also had a one-bedroom, mother-in-law cottage on the property, in which my mother-in-law, Shirley Willard, had moved into.  Physically she was not getting around well, having had both knees and hips replaced in the previous years.  In August she took ill.  She had had breast cancer which had gone into remission a number of years ago.  It returned with a vengeance.  Home-care nurses were visiting regularly, oxygen tanks were being utilized and replenished.

Two days before the match, she was admitted into the hospital in the morning, and by evening was moved to hospice.  My wife, daughter, and son, along with my brother-in-law, stayed the next night at her side.  She passed as the sun rose match-day morning.  With everyone crashing after the long night, I went down to the game, leaving the camera at home.

Since the growth of this team, I have become Facebook friends with so many Northern Guard Supporters.  This match, I met a lot of them in person.  Prior to going down to the game, I posted a comment on my timeline about Shirley’s death.  I didn’t realize how much I would be embraced throughout the night.  It was this game that I experienced the difference between “season ticket holders” and “supporters.”  You can have season tickets for a team, sit next to people regularly at the game, and know little or nothing about their lives.  Being a part of a supporters group, however, is not solely to support the team.  It’s about supporting each other in our lives outside the team; to cheer the successes, to help with personal goals, provide advice/assistance when possible, and to console each others’ pain.  Are there differences of opinions and beliefs and even in being fans of different MLS and European teams among such a large group?  Of course there is.  But despite these differences, this team…this fourth-tier football club…is what draws us together, pumping our hearts with rouge-and-gold blood, creating a common bond that goes beyond sitting in a stadium for a few hours next to each other.

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Shirley Jean Willard
June 9, 1936 – September 13, 2014

Shirley Jean Willard

July 13, 2014: at Lansing United

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July 13, 2014
Detroit City FC 2, Lansing United 2
LANS  Matt Brown (Brian Cunningham) 20′
DCFC  Josh Rogers (PK) 37′
LANS  Gabe Mateo 66′
DCFC Locky Savage 94′

The final regular season game for both teams had playoff implications.  Going into the Sunday afternoon affair, Lansing (8 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses = 27 points) had a one point lead over Le Rouge (8 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses = 26 points) for first place.  Due to the NPSL braintrusts’ plans, only the first place team in the Great Lakes Conference would advance to the Midwest Regional Division playoffs.  A win for either team would crown them Conference champions.  A draw would give the title and playoff spot to Lansing.

We met at Harrison Roadhouse for the breakfast buffet, out-shouting the couple of tables of “Sons of Ransom” supporters, then marched to DeMartin Stadium, home of the MSU Spartan soccer team.  The announced attendance trickled over the two-thousand mark, but we accounted for a significant portion of that.  We were not in the majority of bodies in the stands, but we certainly were the loudest.

Lansing opened the scoring in the 19th minute when Matt Brown headed in a pass from Brian Cunningham.  Le Rouge equalized in the 36th minute when Zach Myers was taken down in the box and Josh Rogers converted on the penalty kick.  The halftime 1-1 draw favored Lansing.

In the second half, Gabe Mateo broke free and scored in the 66th minute to give Lansing the lead.  Detroit pressed the rest of the game, managing to tie it on Locky Savage’s goal in the waning moments of stoppage time.

It was heart-breaking, yes, but they stayed and chanted and sung as the rest of the fans emptied the stadium.  Le Rouge players then joined the Northern Guard Supporters for a final hurrah.

Pre-Game

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Action

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July 11, 2014: Fort Pitt Regiment

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July 11, 2014
Detroit City FC 3, Fort Pitt Regiment 1
PITT Lamine Balde (Michael Tuohy) 26′
DCFC Latif Alashe 56′
DCFC Shawn Lawson (T.J. Van Slooten) 72′
DCFC T.J. Van Slooten 90′

Attendance:  3,398

The team’s first sell-out and new attendance record with 400 or so folks turned away at the gate.  Fort Pitt considered ruining the party and final home game of the season for Le Rouge when Lamine Balde scored in the 25th minute.  They took the 1-0 lead with them into the locker room at half time.

The second half was completely different.

Latif Alashe scored in a goal-mouth scramble in the 56th minute to level the score.  Then, Shawn Lawson scored the prettiest goal of the season and probably in the history of Detroit City FC, carving through a couple of defenders and the keeper for the highlight reel game-winning tally in the 72nd minute.  T. J. Van Slooten scored in added time to hammer the final nail in the Fort Pitt casket.

The video I shot at this match is on another page titled “90 Minutes Within the Northern Guard Supporters Section,” where I wanted to capture the experience of reveling with the rabid supporters of Detroit’s soccer team.

Pre-Game

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Action

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July 6, 2014: Cincinnati Saints

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July 6, 2014
Detroit City FC 2, Cincinnati Saints 0
DCFC Jeff Adkins (William Mellors-Blair) 9′
DCFC  William Mellors-Blair (Jeff Adkins) 59′

Attendance:  2,612

Days prior to this match, the Metro Detroit soccer community suffered a tragedy.  John Bieniewicz was about to red card a player while refereeing a match in Livonia when he was blindsided with a punch by the player, ultimately ending the life of the referee.  Bieniewicz, the president of the Metro Detroit Soccer Officials Organization, was a 44-year-old husband and father of two boys.  The incident shook the community.

To honor the life of John Bieniewicz, the Northern Guard Supporters created these “red cards” that were to be raised by all in silence in the 44th minute of the match.

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As for the game, of course City pummeled the Saints into submission once more.  That’s what we do.

The Kitchen/DCFC vs Bruce/Saints rivalry is once again absent any member of the Bruce family.  Fearful, they are, of treading onto City grounds.  One begins to question whether a rivalry really exists, especially when one team is Le Rouge, and the other team sucks so bad that its hometown fans distance themselves from the team.

Pre-Game

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Action

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