June 23, 2017: vs Kalamazoo FC (NPSL Regular Season)

June 23, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Detroit City FC 2, Kalamazoo FC 1
Attendance: 5,345

DCFC  Roddy Green (Bakie Goodman) 30′
KFC     Jay McIntosh 48′
DCFC  Elijah Rich (Tyrone Mondi) 67′

Tonight was City’s annual benefit match.  This year’s recipient being Alternatives for Girls, a nonprofit organization aiding homeless and high-risk girls and young women in avoiding violence, teen pregnancy and exploitation.  The jerseys worn by Le Rouge tonight were auctioned, with the proceeds going to Alternatives for Girls.

The match was chippy.  It seemed Kalamazoo FC controlled the possession, but City generated the chances on quick breaks and free kicks.

In the 30th minute, as the Kalamazoo defense were trying to clear their zone, Cameron Sipple’s heavy touch put the ball in the path of Bakie Goodman.  Goodman passed it to an unmarked Roddy Green just inside the top of the box, where he loft it into the top corner to give City the lead.

Three minutes into the second half, Kalamazoo scored, ending 308 minutes of NPSL play where City had not conceded a goal.  Keeper Colin Miller made a diving save on Ali Sodal’s shot, however the ball parried out to a wide open Jay McIntosh who deposited it into the back of the net.

Into the match came Elijah Rice, who, in the 67’th minute, tapped in a brilliant corner kick from Tyrone Mondi.  Felt a little sorry for Tyrone, as his spot kick beautifully tapered in toward the goal, creating the opportunity, yet everyone went running over to the supporters instead of him.

Five straight wins.  The next test would be in less than 48 hours, with a road trip to our furthest opponent – Milwaukee Torrent.

 

June 17, 2017: at Grand Rapids FC (NPSL Regular Season)

June 17, 2017
Fifth Third Ball Park, Comstock Park, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Grand Rapids FC 0, Detroit City FC 2

DCFC Shawn Lawson (Tyrone Mondi) 62′
DCFC Bakie Goodman 74′

The third game in a row on the road put us in Grand Rapids, where last season the team and supporters endured their worst-ever loss.  But these road-warriors in rouge were on a roll, and revenge was a dish in preparation.

Instead of the Grand Rapids Public Schools-owned Houseman Field, the home pitch of Grand Rapids FC, we found ourselves playing at Fifth Third Ballpark, where the West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball team plays.  The ballpark holds only around 1,200 more seats than Houseman Field, so one can only assume that a scheduling conflict caused the match to be played on a baseball field.

From the Unusual Pre-Game Incidents Department:  The Rouge Rovers met at Vitale’s, a short distance from the ballpark.  John Mozena tweeted that a busboy at the Comstock Park sports bar informed him that a family complained about “foul language” used by our supporters, singling out him, Tim Suliman, and me.  What?  I remember us conversing near the entrance, but “foul language?”  I don’t think we were even talking about soccer.  Perhaps they were offended by the outrageous number of supporters we had in their bar, and we were the closest to finger.

From the Unusual Game Incident Department:  The baseball field.  Really?  The base lines were covered by poorly covered sod.  Never a dull moment in the NPSL, which, to be honest, is what makes being a part of this league more amusing and interesting than being in MLS.

The first half was dominated by Le Rouge, but we almost went into halftime down a goal.  Keeper Nate Steinwascher fouled a Grand Rapids forward in the box, creating a penalty kick.  Scott Doney went to the spot, and this happened…

Nil-Nil at the half.

In the top of the sixth inning…er, I mean, 62nd minute, Tyrone Mondi lofted a ball from just inside the center stripe, which found the head of Shawn Lawson in the box, popping it up and over the reach of keeper Noah Fazekas’ glove, giving City the lead.  This was Lawson’s fifth straight game, in all competitions, with a goal, and the fourth game-winner.

Then, just before the 7th inning stretch…er 74th minute, City set up for a corner kick.  It curled in, but was then headed out by a Grand Rapids defender.  However, it fell to the feet of Bakie Goodman, who sent a low knuckle-ball back on goal, which Fazekas bobbled (but not between his legs like Bill Buckner), to secure the victory.

Revenge was a dish served hot, on their home plate (actually, closer to first base).

Like numbers?

-Over the three-straight road games, City took all 9 points, outscoring the opponents 6-1.

-After four straight victories, the team’s record at the halfway point of the season was 4 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss, and the sluggish beginning suddenly felt as if it happened last year.

– Five of the last seven matches of the season would be at Keyworth.

The connection between the team and supporters had strengthened.  We were all hungry for the next match.

June 11, 2017: at Kalamazoo FC (NPSL Regular Season)

June 11, 2017
Mayors’ Riverfront Park, Kalamazoo, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Kalamazoo FC 0, Detroit City FC 1

DCFC  Shawn Lawson (Tyrone Mondi) 18′

On a very hot, Sunday afternoon, Le Rouge traveled to Kalamazoo for the second of a three-game road stretch.

Shawn Lawson scored in the 18th minute, the only goal of the match.  This was the third straight game (fourth, if you include the Columbus Crew SC College Program match) that Lawson found the back of the opposing team’s net.

For the second half, I crossed to the other side of the field, occupying a spot behind and just over from those three or four rows of KFC supporters.

Colin Miller recorded our first clean sheet of the season.  The victory put us in third place, ten points behind first place AFC Ann Arbor, with two games in hand.

June 7, 2017: vs Columbus Crew SC College Program (Friendly)

June 7, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
Friendly
Detroit City FC 3, Columbus Crew SC College Program 2
Attendance: 4,010

DCFC Seb Harris (PK) 1′
DCFC Roddy Green (Dave Edwardson) 4′
DCFC Shawn Lawson 26′
CCSC Abdi Mohamed (Blake Townes) 33′
CCSC Andew McKelvey (Agyemen Bismark) 89′

Time for the annual friendly against the Columbus Crew SC recruits.  They’ve been visiting every season except 2014, when severe thunderstorms were rolling through the Michigan-Ohio landscape.  Up to this point, we hadn’t won a match.  “So what?” you say?  “It’s just a friendly,” you say?

There’s no such thing as a friendly – especially against Fuck Ohio.

It didn’t take long for City to put the Crew behind.  Max Todd was taken down in the box, and Sebby Harris converts from the spot in the first minute of play.

Only three minutes later, Roddy Green chipped the ball up and over Carter Richardson – the Crew Keeper – who wandered a bit too far from his line.  Two-Nil.

Shawn Lawson added to the lead in the 26th minute, but the Crew kids pulled one back with a goal by Abdi Mohamed in the 33rd minute.  City went into the locker room at halftime with a 3-1 lead.

Tonight’s halftime entertainment was the return of Friendly the Bear!  As you can see, Friendly has a following.

A full moon hovered above Keyworth as the second half began.

This makes the third win in a row since our friends from Belfast visited, and the first time in our history that we won this friendly.  The Irish luck be a wonderful thing.

June 4, 2017: at FC Indiana Lions (NPSL Regular Season)

June 4, 2017
Legacy Sports Club, Lafayette, IN
NPSL Regular Season Match
FC Indiana Lions 1, Detroit City FC 3

DCFC Shawn Lawson (Tyrone Mondi) 7′
FCIL Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu 10′
DCFC Bakie Goodman (Shawn Lawson) 48′
DCFC Indiana Own Goal 64′

I wasn’t going to go to this match.  On Saturday, I looked back and discovered I had not missed a Detroit City FC NPSL regular season match since June 26, 2015, when Le Rouge played in Fort Pitt.  I haven’t missed a home match, ever, and with the emergence of teams in Michigan, I hadn’t missed an away match for almost two years – twenty straight matches.  There was no reason to let a streak break due to laziness.  There was nothing preventing me from making the five-hour, one-way drive, across a time zone, to see my club play.  I decided to make the trip.

I stopped at the nearest gas station to fuel up.  I interpreted the rabbit that occupied the curb as I filled the tank to be an omen of good luck.

Several hours, and a couple wrong turns later, I made my way through the wilderness to the Legacy Sports Club.

Wow.  From Friday night, playing before 5,154 fans at Keyworth Stadium nestled within the City of Hamtramck, to 154 fans (and I’m being generous) on a field hidden in the farmland of Lafayette, Indiana, northeast of Purdue University.  This is life in the NPSL.

Shawn Lawson put us on the board early.  In the 7th minute, he broke in on the net and was wide open for Tyrone Mondi’s pass from the right side.

One – Nil.

Unfortunately, just three minutes later, an Indiana player fed the ball into the box, where another Indiana player (sorry, no line-up or program was provided to the paying fans by this Green Acres organization) fired a shot.  Keeper Colin Miller made a diving hand save, but the ball ended up on the foot of  Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu, to equalize.  Rather than celebrate with the handful of folks cheering his team on, Ahmed-Shaibu thought that taunting the Rouge Rovers was the thing to do.  Really?  The man must not have ever heard of Detroit.

The Rouge Rovers put almost as many supporters in the bleachers as Indiana fans, and were infinitely louder.  This didn’t sit well with our host.  First, we were told to stop swearing.  The Plan B songbook was opened, and chants like the Barney Song found their way into the playlist.  Later, we were instructed not to make any noise.  What?  Didn’t the owner of this new team in the league realize that this was the NPSL, not the PGA?

We did Tetris, anyway.

City had some chances to regain the lead, but the teams went into halftime tied at a goal apiece.

Just as the half was coming to an end, dark clouds rolled in, and with the final whistle, the players headed into the locker rooms in a downpour.

Now, whoever was in charge of this team from Green Acres, threatened to call the police on the Rouge Rovers.  However, it was pointed out to him that there were no rules or code of conduct posted on the team’s website (of which, they didn’t have), on the tickets of admission (of which there was none), or at the field.  The Rouge Rovers adhere to their host’s Code of Conduct when they hit the road to support City.  But when there’s no Code of Conduct…

It was rumored that the guy in charge had spoken to the referees about kicking out the Rouge Rovers, to which the officials said that that was not their job.

A lightning strike created an additional thirty-minute delay, which provided more time for some Rouge Rover shenanigans.  It started with a routine of the Hokey-Pokey.

As the ball boys (of elementary school age), halted their half-time game on the pitch due to the rain, they left the ball behind, allowing Rouge Rovers to provide some half-time entertainment.

The boys returned, not to play with the Rouge Rovers, but to reclaim their ball and run away with it.

It should also be mentioned that a game of duck-duck-goose took place.

As the sky cleared, and the humidity rose, the second half commenced.

It didn’t take long for City to strike.  In the 48th minute, as they played out from the back, David Edwardson, from midfield, sent a ball down to the right of the goal to Shawn Lawson, who then passed it to Bakie Goodman in front of the goal.  He chipped it past the Indiana keeper, to give City a 2-1 lead.

In the 64th minute, Colin Miller sent a goal kick downfield.  A City player headed it further on, where another City player chested down.  He passed it forward, toward the left corner, where Derrick Otim sent in a cross that deflected off an Indiana defender, into the goal, to conclude the scoring.

The first weekend after the Glentoran match, and City took 6 points out of 6.

And I’m glad I didn’t break my streak.  Twenty-one, and counting.

 

 

 

June 2, 2017: vs Grand Rapids FC (NPSL Regular Season)

June 2, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Detroit City FC 3, Grand Rapids FC 1
Attendance: 5,154

GRFC Greg Timmer (Cam Cavanagh) 28′
DCFC Louis Dargent (Bakie Goodman) 30′
DCFC Shawn Lawson (Tyrone Mondi) 78′
DCFC Derrick Otim (Dave Edwardson) 82′

The first match back in the NPSL was against Grand Rapids FC.

The Glentoran FC match lifted our spirits, and for those who still doubted, Sgt. Scary put it into perspective.

Before the march, a Grand Rapids FC jersey had to be sacrificed.

The team program poster honored the three men who started the Northern Guard Supporters.

Gentlemen…this is all your fault!

Anyway…on to the match.

In the third minute, Tyrone Mondi was sent loose down the left side on his own.  Grand Rapids’ keeper Noah Fazekas dashed out of the penalty box, and slid, studs up, into Mondi, taking him down hard.  Fazekas gave the referee no choice but to pull out the red card, putting Grand Rapids down to ten men.

It was set-up for Detroit City FC to shrug off the pre-Glentoran matches and chart a new course to ascend the standings.  But that was almost erased in the 28th minute, when Greg Timmer tapped in a goal, from a ball launched into the box from the head of Cam Cavanagh, for short-handed Grand Rapids FC.  The heart paused, skipping a beat, as a nightmare reappeared.  But then, it pumped again as play resumed.  Thirty seconds after the restart, Bakie Goodman sent a pass to Tyler Moorman, which was cut off by Grand Rapids defender, Trent Vegter’s head, guiding it into the path of Louis Dargent, who fired it past Fazekas’ replacement, Aaron Orban, leveling the score.

The first half ended knotted at one.

At the 78th minute, Tyrone Mondi found Shawn Lawson to provide us with the lead…

Then, four minutes later, Derrick Otim turned a defender inside out, and sent the ball into the far corner of the net to insure victory.

And the Supporters were loving it…

 

With the first win of the season achieved, things were once again right with the world.  The next obstacle would be a trip to Lafayette, Indiana in less than 48 hours.

May 27, 2017: vs Glentoran FC (International Friendly)

May 26-27, 2017 International Friendly with Glentoran FC.

In 1967, William Clay Ford owned the Detroit Cougars, one of twelve teams in the United Soccer Association.  Each of the franchises imported a team to represent them.  Glentoran FC from Belfast represented the Detroit Cougars.

This summer marked the 50th anniversary of the marriage of Glentoran FC and the City of Detroit.  In the past, no team existed in Detroit for Glentoran FC to connect with.  That has changed.

The Cougars played a twelve-match season in the summer of ’67, finishing fourth in the Eastern Division with three wins, six draws, and three losses.  The boys from Belfast were housed in a Howard Johnson’s on Grand Boulevard, across the street from the Motown Museum.

On June 14, 1967, in a match against against the Houston Stars (who imported Bangu Atletico Clube from Brazil) a riot ensued.  With seventeen minutes remaining in the match, Cougars/Glens Tommy Jackson was laid out by a kick to the kidney by Stars/Bangu’s Luiz Alberto.  Glens’ players took exception to the attack, a melee ensued, which escalated into a riot as both teams’ benches cleared and engaged in the brawl.  It forced the game to end at that point, with Detroit down, 2-0.   Jackson and Billy Sinclair, were the two players who made this fiftieth anniversary trip back to Detroit.

On Friday, May 26th, two events took place with the Glens.  At 1:00 in the afternoon, the team held an open practice at Keyworth Stadium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The atmosphere was friendly.  A few of our supporters joined a few of their supporters on the pitch to kick a ball around.  A few of us gathered around Billy Sinclair and chatted with him about his brief two-month stay in Detroit.

While shooting the video in the southwest corner of the stadium, I had the section pretty much to myself, until I noticed that I had disturbed a squirrel who was foraging through the benches.  Noticing me, it darted up the stairs and scaled the wall, then leapt into a tree on the other side.  I say this not due to my other amusement – the Peanut Ledge Cafe – but to foreshadow his return.

At 7:00 PM, a reception for supporters and both teams was held at Amnesia in the Motor City Casino.  This was another great time spent building the ‘friendly’ atmosphere.  A table of paraphernalia from the 1967 Detroit Cougars/Glentoran FC season, and a black-and-white video played on a large screen showing film from 1967 of the team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 28, 2017
MATCH DAY!

May 27, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
International Friendly
Detroit City FC 1, Glentoran FC 0
Attendance: 5,067

DCFC Tyler Moorman 86′

There was a breakfast at 10AM at 3rd Man Records, which I didn’t attend.  I arrived at Fowling Warehouse earlier than usual, and mingled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The match featured the defense, with few chances for both teams.

At one point during the first half, a resident took to the field, wondering what all the commotion was about.  Apparently, my little friend from yesterday enjoyed what he saw, and found a nice seat outside the penalty area.  But like yesterday, as the play came down field, and humans drew closer, he vacated the stadium, through a fence in the southwest corner.

With the next match, I began keeping a couple peanuts in my pocket…just in case.  Never saw him again, though.

It was nil-nil at the half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The paced picked up in the second half.  In the 80th minute, Tyler Moorman was brought down in the box.  Jeff Adkins lined up the penalty, but the Glens keeper, Dwayne Nelson, made a brilliant save to keep things knotted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, in the 86th minute, Tyler Moorman found the back of the net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorable games tend to be those where the victory is meaningful – like a championship final or victory against a powerful rival (or an amazing comeback from a goal down and a man down, on the road).  But this is our second international friendly.  Both of them provided us the opportunity to meet supporters and players from the team who traveled across the pond to play us.  Both of them ended memorable not for the result on the pitch, but for the goodwill between the teams and supporters, which carried over onto the field when the final whistle blew.  An experience no MLS match could replicate.  I say that from experience.  The Arsensal – New York Red Bulls friendly I attended in 2014 at Red Bull Arena doesn’t compare to the experience this evening and last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend, we embraced Detroit soccer history, its roots from Belfast.  Perhaps some of the Irish luck would rub off and change our fortunes in the eleven remaining matches of the season.