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May 22, 2016: at Kalamazoo FC (NPSL Regular Season)

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May 22, 2016
Mayors Riverfront Park, Kalamazoo, MI
NPSL Regular Season
Kalamazoo FC 3, Detroit City FC 2
KFC   Brandon Bye (Lou Plascencia) 45+’
KFC   Heiko Leinweber (Hunter Vendenboom) 47′
DCFC Cyrus Saydee (PK) 58′
DCFC TJ Stevens (Seb Harris) 61′
KFC   Brock Fitzgerald (Jay McIntosh) 73′

It was less than forty-eight hours from our big opening night at Keyworth that Le Rouge found themselves back on the road for a Sunday afternoon tussle with Kalamazoo FC.  It was the sixth match in twelve days, with travel of over fifteen-hundred miles for both team and supporters.  To make matters more challenging, the bus failed to show up for the team in Detroit, so the guys had to carpool out to Kalamazoo and back.

The home opener had an overwhelming effect on many of us.  With the smaller contingent of Rouge Rovers, it was a breath of fresh air to be among hundreds after the shock and awe of the seven-thousand-plus Friday night crowd.

Despite the travel challenges and fatigue, Le Rouge came out and played a pretty good game.  They had a number of chances in the first half, however KFC scored in added time to take a 1-0 lead into the locker room.  An early goal in the second half doubled KFC’s lead, but the boys in their white kits battled back.  Within three minutes, Cyrus Saydee scored on a penalty kick and TJ Stevens headed home a beautiful pass from Seb Harris on the right flank, leveling the match just after the hour mark.  The miles started to show, and when Brock Fitzgerald returned the lead to the home team at the 73rd minute, Le Rouge just couldn’t connect in the final seventeen minutes of the match.

Four regular season matches in the book, Detroit City FC’s record was now a win, a loss, and a couple draws.

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May 20, 2016: AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL Regular Season)

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May 20, 2016
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Regular Season
Detroit City FC 1, AFC Ann Arbor 1
Attendance:  7,410
DCFC Alec Lasinski (Ali Al-Gashamy) 45′
AFCA Dario Suarez 48′

Hour Magazine, Metropolitan Detroit’s Monthly Magazine, celebrated its 20th Anniversary issue in May, and found room to cover Le Rouge.

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And the morning of our first match at Keyworth Stadium, we were the front page, above-the-fold story in The Detroit Free Press.

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I arrived in Hamtramck early, to grab a local dinner at the Motor City Sports Bar, then walked to the stadium.  The first photo is a welcome sign on The Painted Lady, where the post-match party was held.  It was my first visit to our new home, and snapped a few shots before the gates opened.

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Then it was a walk over to the Fowling Warehouse on Conant Street.  The place was packed with so many unfamiliar faces wearing the Rouge & Gold.  Hamtramck Police blocked Conant to allow our supporters to gather and begin the march to the stadium.

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Pre-Game.  It seemed like a constant flow of people entering the stadium.

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For eight months, we have been waiting for this day.  The electric excitement sizzled as the Supporters Section filled to capacity.

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The teams took to the field for the opening ceremonies and the Northern Guard Supporters’ tifo drop.

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The starting eleven for Le Rouge was as follows:
GK  Nate Steinwascher
D     Zach Schewee
D     Andre Morris
D     Seb Harris
D    Billy Stevens
M   Brett Nason
M   David Edwardson
M   Cyrus Saydee
F     Ali Al-Gashamy
F     Alec Lasinski
F     Tyler Moorman

AFC Ann Arbor started eleven men as well.  “Who Are Ya?” is usually the response, however, for this historic occasion, I’ll list them.

GK  Fabian Veit
D     Bruno Oliveria
D     Matt Braem
D     Lars Eckenrode
D     Jake Rosen
M    Jack Smith
M    Hector Morales
M    Leigh Rumbold
F     William Bayemi
F     Yuri Farkas
F     Dario Suarez

Game On!

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I must pause for a moment to compare and contrast our first match at Cass Tech on May 12, 2012 to this evening’s match.

Impressive.

I made my through the Supporters Section to get a shot of the home-side seating.  It was crazy, taking a good ten minutes to get from one end to the other, the jumping, dancing, singing, swearing bodies shaking the decades-old foundation.

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As the first half moved into its final minute, Alec Lasinski scored Detroit City FC’s first goal at Keyworth, after receiving a pass from Ali Al-Gashamy.

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At halftime, I was standing near the entrance to the field on the family-friendly side when a couple came up to me to ask me about the game.  They had just arrived, and said they could hear the crowd out on Joseph Campeau Avenue, where they had parked their car and walked in from.

In the second half, Brett Nason was red-carded for an aggressive challenge in the penalty box, resulting in Dario Suarez tying the match on a penalty kick.  That didn’t spoil the party.

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Tonight’s attendance:  Seven-Thousand-Four-Hundred-Ten.

Almost seven times the attendance of our first match at Cass (1, 072).

Almost double the largest crowd we had at Cass (3,884).

The evening was surreal.  It was Detroit City FC, but not like it was just a season ago.  It was like standing in the middle of a movie.  It was shock and awe.

The next day, both The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press covered us on the front of their Sports Sections, and The Detroit News featured us on the front page, above-the-fold.

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May 18, 2016: at Louisville City FC (USL) (Lamar Hunt US Open Cup)

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May 18, 2016
Owsley B. Frazier Stadium, Louisville, KY
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Louisville City FC 1, Detroit City FC 1 (3-1 PK)
DCFC Seb Harris (Ali Al-Gashamy) 104′
LCFC Ilija Ilic 115′ (Paolo DelPiccolo) 110′

Louisville City FC is in the United Soccer League (USL), a step down from Major League Soccer.  They came into the match with six wins, two draws, and a single loss in regular season play.  They finished in second place in the Eastern Division, and missed the USL Cup Final by a single penalty kick goal.

Yes.  This was going to be difficult.

The game wasn’t played at Lou City’s regular stadium, but hosted on the campus of a Christian college which denounced swearing.  This limited the group of twenty or so Northern Guard Supporters’ chanting to some degree, though restriction is the mother of ingenuity.

This was the look of a native when one of the f-bombs inadvertently dropped.

 

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It was a one-sided affair, with Lou City owning the bulk of possession and chances.  Le Rouge keeper, Nathan Steinwascher was up to the task.  The professionals had been averaging two goals per game, but Le Rouge held them scoreless through ninety minutes.  Whether it was because of lack of faith, fear of disappointment, or past their weeknight bed time, the Lou City fans began to leave.

In extra time, Lou City was awarded a penalty kick, the referee falling for a flopping forward in the box.  Cameron Lancaster, former Tottenham Hotspur academy player who played for Spurs under Harry Redknapp, went to the spot, and Steinwascher, our keeper from the University of Detroit Mercy responded.

The energy dropped from the Louisville fans after thinking they had it wrapped up, but hope flickered for them as a red card was issued to Billy Stevens for god knows what, followed by Coach Pirmann being sent off the field, giving them a man advantage.  That hope was short lived as Sebby Harris headed in a beautiful ball from Ali Al-Gashamy, to give Le Rouge the 1-0 lead at the 104th minute.

All we needed to do was gut it out for the final sixteen minutes of the match.  Le Rouge was helped when Conor Shanosky was shown his second yellow card of the match, leveling the field to ten men apiece.  Unfortunately, Ilija Ilic evened the score.

This was the third of four DCFC appearances in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup that would be settled on penalty kicks.

Aodhan Quinn (LC) – saved [LC 0, DCFC 0]
Seb Harris (DCFC) – goal [LC 0, DCFC 1]
Paolo DelPiccolo (LC) – goal [LC 1, DCFC 1]
Ali Al-Gashamy (DFCF) – missed [LC 1, DCFC 1]
Magnus Rasmussen (LC) – goal [LC 2, DCFC 1]
Tyler Channel (DCFC) – saved [LC 2, DCFC 1]
Ilija Ilic (LC) – saved [LC 2, DCFC 1]
David Edwardson (DCFC) – missed [LC 2, DCFC 1]
Cameron Lancaster (LC) – goal [LC 3, DCFC 1]

Before I made the commitment to drive down to the game, I weighed whether it was going to be worth the time.  Louisville was a USL team.  Last year, when the Michigan Bucks blew us out early, I had some concern of making the long drive to witness something similar.  Though Louisville had control of the game, Le Rouge stood strong, defended well, and fought to put another Open Cup win in the record book.  This was a great performance.  It didn’t have the emotional impact that beating the Michigan Bucks the week prior had, however it was as important, showing that this team and its supporters will battle with the best of them.  As this organization progresses, it won’t be long before we will be hosting and beating a Major League Soccer team in this competition.

A couple more videos before the photos:

Sebby almost scores in the second half.

Post game

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May 15, 2016: at Dayton Dynamo (NPSL Regular Season)

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May 15, 2016
Welcome Stadium, Dayton, OH
NPSL Regular Season Match
Dayton Dynamo 2, Detroit City FC 4
DCFC  Danny Deakin 21′
DCFC  Alec Lasinski (Danny Deakin) 27′
DCFC  Alec Lasinski (Danny Deakin) 30′
DCFC  Ali Al-Gashamy (Danny Deakin) 34′
DD  Kristian Montoya 54′
DD  Tristan Lyle 75′

This was our only regular season match that crossed the Michigan border.  The Dynamo were formerly the Cincinnati Saints, who migrated north when a billionaire put a USL team in the Queen City, killing the rivalry with my sister and her family.  Either way, southern Ohio usually means three points.

By the 34th minute, Le Rouge amassed a 4-0 lead, powered by Danny Deakin.  In thirteen minutes, Deakin scored the first,

then set up Alec Lasinski for two,

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and Ali Al-Gashamy.

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In the second half, City leaked a couple goals, as they had against the Michigan Stars two nights ago.  Kristian Montoya scored on a PK in the 54th minute.  Then Tristan Lyle put in a well-placed header in the 75th minute.

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