July 18, 2017: vs Venezia FC (International Friendly).

July 17, 2017
Amnesia, Motor City Casino, Detroit, MI
International Meet & Greet

An International Friendly!  Who doesn’t like that?

But this one, when it was announced on May 16th, raised eyebrows and concerns.

Venezia FC is a Serie B Italian football club, owned by Joe Tacopina and other American investors.  They purchased the Venice-based team when they were in Serie D – the fourth tier of Italian football – in October, 2015.  When the 2015-16 season was over, the team was promoted to the third tier – Lega Pro.  During the summer of 2016, Italian scoring legend Filippo Inzaghi was named Venezia FC’s manager.  The new foundation of winning continued, advancing the club into the second tier – Serie B.  This would be one of Detroit City FC’s most challenging opponents.

A meet-and-greet was held at Amnesia in the Motor City Casino the evening before the match.

So why were eyebrows and concerns raised?  This match was sponsored by Quicken Loans and the Detroit Pistons.  Also known as Dan Gilbert & Tom Gores – the billionaires that want to bring Major League Soccer to Detroit.

Furthermore, the match fell on a week night, at the conclusion of the regular season with the playoffs beginning four days later.  Meeting a team of this caliber just before the intensity of the playoffs could have had a negative impact on the team’s confidence.  There was even chatter among the supporters about not showing up to the match due to the Gilbert-Gores sponsorship.

After the meet-and-greet, this felt so much different than our previous international friendlies with FC United of Manchester and Glentoran FC.  The week-night match did not provide a good opportunity for supporters of Venezia FC to come over and mingle with us.  The bravado of Joe Tacopina also felt a bit ‘unfriendly’ in that a couple of times during his talk at Amnesia he emphasized that his team was going to ‘kick our ass.’  It was apparently likely that a Serie B professional Italian club, coached by the country’s legend, would have an easy time against a fourth-tier American soccer team of unpaid players.  Was such arrogance necessary at a meet-and-greet for a friendly?

Twenty-four hours later, the match took place.

July 18, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
International Friendly
Detroit City FC 2, Venezia FC 0
Attendance: 5,418

DCFC Roddy Green (Elijah Rice) 28′
DCFC Elijah Rice (Cyrus Saydee) 32′

In the very early stage of their season, Venezia FC were getting their legs while adjusting to their teammates and the Keyworth pitch.  City, at the height of its season, provided a worthy opponent.  The breakthrough came in the 28th minute when Elijah Rice received a pass on the wing from Bakie Goodman, dipsy-dooed around the Venezia defender, and fired a shot at goal.  Keeper Emil Audero made a diving palm save, but Roddy Green was right there to pop the ball into the back of the net, giving City the lead.

Four minutes later, Cyrus Saydee, City’s magical midfielder, undressed a Venezia defender, then saved the ball from crossing the end line, feeding it to the front of the goal where Elijah Rice lift his foot and guided it into the back of the net.

In the 32nd minute, it was 2-0. City?

With the playoffs approaching, it was full-scale changes for the second half.  And the players who had seen little or no NPSL action this season found minutes on the pitch against the team of professionals.

In the 70th minute, things became a little unfriendly as Jordan Tyler was stepped on in the box.  When he took offense to it, the ref ,who didn’t see the Italian stomp, witnessed the retaliation and gave Tyler a straight red card.

Guess what.  10 > 11.

This was truly an amazing feat.  It was a bit disappointing, though, that the Venezia FC team did not take the time to acknowledge the Northern Guard Supporters, like our previous visitors from Europe.  Instead, at the match’s conclusion, after brief handshakes with City players, they took to the locker room.

Was it because we kicked their ass?

March 25, 2018: Typing Assignment #15.

Yes.  Life got in the way, preventing me from participating in Joe Van Cleave’s Typing Assignments #12, 13, and 14.  Finding myself with some time this Sunday afternoon, I planted my butt in the chair, before my 1926 Royal 10 typewriter, and wrote this in response to Typing Assignment #15: Ten Years Later.

Previous Typing Assignments can be found HERE.

 

 

July 14, 2017: vs Lansing United (NPSL Regular Season)

July 14, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Detroit City FC 3, Lansing United 3
Attendance:  6,310

LANU  Morris Kamara (Farai Mutatu)  39′
LANU  James DeCasemo 65′
LANU  Tumi Moshobane 68′
DCFC  Shawn Lawson 71′
DCFC  Seb Harris 79′
DCFC  Owain Hoskins 86′

It was a soiree, this evening, as the classy Northern Guard Supporters took to the streets to march, and to the stands to sing for the final regular season home match.  What triggered such an elegant display this evening?  The handful of fans of Lansing made statements on Twitter about how we weren’t classy in the way we charged the field to congratulate our team after kicking their butts and securing a playoff spot.

Secure with a playoff spot and the division title unlikely (they would need a win here and AFC Ann Arbor to lose their last two matches), this was an opportunity to repair the broken winning streak, and carry a positive into the playoffs.  And who better than Lansing United to be on the receiving end?

In the 39th minute, Morris Kamara scored the only goal of the half, giving Lansing United the lead going into the locker room.  City had created a number of chances, but could not break the plane of the goal.

Michigan Special Olympics took to the pitch during halftime for an exciting performance for both fans and players.

In the second half, shortly after the hour mark, Tyrone Mondi was sent in from a feathery pass from Jeff Adkins, but sent the ball wide, as City put on the pressure to tie the match.  The play went back downfield, and James DeCosemo cut through the City defense and fired a shot into the corner, doubling Lansing’s lead in the 65th minute.  Three minutes later, Tumi Moshobane outwitted the City defense, and fired a shot like DeCosemo’s, into the corner, giving Lansing a 3-0 lead.  But did spirits wane?  Nope. Because…

…three minutes after Lansing took the seemingly insurmountable lead, this happened.

Four minutes later, Omar Sinclair drew his second yellow card, taking Detroit down a man for the final 15 minutes of the match.

Four minutes later, this happened.

Thus, the nickname, “The Windmill” is attached to Seb Harris’ name.

Detroit kept pressing.  And the Supporters kept supporting.

In the 86th minute, Lansing United blew a three-goal lead.

In the 90th minute, Fernando Pina made a brilliant save to keep things level, and when the final whistle blew, there was much rejoicing.

The season concluded with City in 2nd place with a record of 9 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses.  Before going into the playoffs, an international friendly loomed.

July 11, 2017: vs AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL Regular Season – Part Two)

July 11, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Detroit City FC 1, AFC Ann Arbor 3
Attendance:  6,972

DCFC  Elijah Rice (Kervin Kenton) 44′
AFCAA  James Vaughan 57′
AFCAA  Alec Lasinski 64′
AFCAA  James Vaughan (PK) 90+

This was the continuation of the much-hyped, much-anticipated AFC Ann Arbor match which was rained-out four days ago.  On this Tuesday evening, there was some concern whether this match would go, due to an afternoon downpour which once again flooded Keyworth.  Hours before the match time, the team and supporters helped clear the water from the pitch.

Having secured a playoff spot two days ago and the match rescheduled for this week night, the pre-game enthusiasm seemed dampened.  In addition, Craine’s Detroit Business reported that Palace Sports & Entertainment had sent an application to the Federal government to register a “Detroit City Soccer Club” trademark.  The timing of this announcement was unusual, being one week prior to the surprise international friendly against the Italian team, Venezia FC; a match sponsored by Quicken Loans and the Detroit Pistons (Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores – the parties interested in acquiring a Major League Soccer franchise in Detroit). This distraction fueled more passion against the Gilbert-and-Gores bid, and had supporters debating the attendance of the friendly they sponsored.

I took my usual position, in the end where City attacked, but the photo opportunities were limited.  Ann Arbor took control of the play.

As the half neared its end, Kervin Kenton found Elijah Rice with a pass, and Rice buried it past Ann Arbor’s keeper, TJ Tomasso.

In the second half, the winning streak was broken, among other things.

A free kick taken from outside the box by James Vaughan beat Fernando Pina in the 57th minute to level the match.  In the 64th minute, Alec Lasinski, controlled the ball after it pinballed among City and Ann Arbor players, and shot it past Pina to give AFC Ann Arbor a 2-1 lead.

In the 70th minute, Kervin Kenton and Ann Arbor’s Kwessi Allen chased an over-hit pass down the line.  I was standing behind the end line, taking a quick glance toward the net to prepare for Kenton to catch up to it and cross it.  But it traveled too fast and he and Allen were trying to slow down as they approached the end line.  Kenton went to ground, sliding to my left.  A security person was behind me.  I decided to remain stationary, to allow Allen to go to my right, but instead he made contact with me, sending me to the pitch.  I picked myself up, thinking my pride was the only thing injured.  As the match went on, my left wrist began to throb.  It swelled overnight, and after a visit to Urgent Care the next day, an x-ray showed an acute fracture.

A foul in the penalty area in stoppage time allowed James Vaughan to score his second, Ann Arbor’s third goal on the night.

The nine-game winning streak, broken.
My wrist, broken.
This match was broken when the football gods flooded our pitch just four days ago, when we had the momentum and the hunger.
For the first time in a month-and-a-half, we, as a team and supporters, had to regroup.

July 9, 2017: at Lansing United (NPSL Regular Season)

July 9, 2017
East Lansing Soccer Complex, East Lansing, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Lansing United 1, Detroit City FC 2

LU  James DeCosemo (Tumi Moshobane) 43′
DCFC  Shawn Lawson (Bakie Goodman) 45′
DCFC  Cyrus Saydee (Tyrone Mondi) 57′

A Sunday afternoon journey to East Lansing for the season’s final road match.  Yeah.  Here.  Lansing United.  Where we have played three times previously and only managed to take a single point.  A win or a draw would clinch a playoff spot for us and eliminate Lansing United from playoff contention.

Wait a second.  With a single point, we’d clinch a playoff spot.  Something some thought impossible after the first three matches way back in May.

In the past, this match would be held at the DeMartin Stadium, home to Michigan State University’s soccer team.  But today, the smaller confines of the East Lansing Soccer Complex would be our host.  Perhaps the change in venue would shrug off the lack of success we’ve had in this town.

First blood was drawn by the home team in the waning moments of the first half.  Tumi Moshobane floated a pass into the box to an open James DeCosemo in the 43rd minute.

Two minutes later the bandage was applied when Tyrone Mondi floated a ball into the box.  Bakie Goodman, with back to the goal, received the ball, his first touch causing it to bounced high.  Goodman turned and volleyed it across the face of the goal.  Lansing keeper Jimmy Hague dove for it, but City’s Shawn Lawson slid in and tapped it in.

The half ended with the sides even.

It would have been easy for City to sit back and ride out the draw.  But Cyrus Saydee was uncanny this afternoon, outmaneuvering most every opponent who challenged him.

In the 57th minute, Tyrone Mondi fed a ball through the Lansing defense.  Jimmy Hague and Saydee ran toward it.  Saydee touched it past the Lansing keeper, then deposited it into the open net.

Nine straight wins.
The season’s road record: 5-1-1, outscoring our hosts 12-7.
And we are in the playoffs!

July 7, 2017: vs AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL Regular Season – Part One)

July 7, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Match suspended at the 4:51 mark

On May 21st, City went into Ann Arbor after the first two matches of the season, where leads were blown and points lost due to draws to the Milwaukee Torrent and Michigan Stars.  The cloudy afternoon brought not only rain down upon Hollway Field during halftime, but on the outlook of the team’s season.  AFC Ann Arbor’s Dario Suarez fired two goals against Le Rouge, and no one answered back.

The following weekend was an early break in the season for Le Rouge for the much-anticipated international friendly with Glentoran FC.  It was the 50th anniversary of the Glentoran team that crossed the Atlantic from Belfast to play as the Detroit Cougars. Spirits were lifted in acknowledging Detroit’s soccer past and in entertaining our Irish guests.  The clouds of gloom dissipated.

One month and eight NPSL matches later, Detroit City FC sat two points behind first place AFC Ann Arbor. City had not suffered a loss in the entire month of June, including the traditional friendly against the Columbus Crew SC College Program (which has traditionally been a game lost by Le Rouge). Supporters and teammates were glistening like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

For one week, the momentum of the past month leading to this night, magnified.  The anticipation of this huge match against a hated opponent was tangible.

AFC Ann Arbor – 9 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss, 1st place.
Detroit City FC – 8 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss, 2nd place.

And let’s be clear about that team in Ann Arbor…

Dark clouds came rolling in from the east, forming and following the Northern Guard Supporters as they marched from the Fowling Warehouse.

It was there.  The emotional electricity of revenge.  Like a heavy-weight fighter knowing one more punch would put down his opponent, we felt ourselves in that drawn back fist, ready to deliver the final blow.

After the water balloons were tossed, and the smoke filled the air, the match began.

It ended four-minutes-fifty-one seconds later.

The heavens opened.  It was as if the fist we were ready to apply to our opponent had manifested in the sky above, with rain pelting the pitch with ferocity.  With the match put on hold, we refused to release this moment.  Smoke tried to blanket the field, but still, the rain fell.

The teams left the field, and many left the stands in search of shelter.  But not us.  We’ve been building and waiting for this moment.  And we stayed.  And sang.

When the chants and songs would not relent, the clouds gave way, reducing the rain’s intensity to a light mist in comparison.

But the pitch couldn’t take it.  Saturated by the soccer gods, the field could not absorb the onslaught, and the steady drizzle that followed made draining an impossibility.

It was about an hour after the match had been paused that the officials abandoned game on account of player safety.  Tuesday, July 11th was announced as the rescheduled date.

Co-owner Alex Wright, on the eve of his wedding, took his bride-to-be out to the middle of the pitch, in a demonstration that it was safe to dance.

Rescheduled to a Tuesday night was a frustrating conclusion to the evening.  Why did the soccer gods attempt to drown our momentum and postpone our clash against AFC Ann Arbor?

June 30, 2017: vs Michigan Stars (NPSL Regular Season).

June 30, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Regular Season Match
Detroit City FC 3, Michigan Stars 1
Attendance: 4,391

DCFC  Tyrone Mondi (Luke Hauswirth) 7′
DCFC  Roddy Green (Cyrus Saydee) 27′
DCFC  Cyrus Saydee (Bakie Goodman) 57′
Stars   Alex Ofiemu 90+

This is the fourth match in a week for the team and supporters.  And though the rain kept the attendance numbers down, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm.  A win tonight would put City on top of the division, with three matches remaining – home against AFC Ann Arbor and a home-and-home weekend against Lansing.

The Michigan Stars were the only team to have walked out of Keyworth Stadium with three points.

Tyrone Mondi started us off with a goal in the 7th minute.  A long ball lofted from our defensive end by Luke Hauswirth ended up hitting the ground ahead of Mondi and Stars defender, Michael Wetunga.  Wetunga slipped on the wet turf, leaving Mondi alone on goal, looping it over the oncoming keeper, Anthony Mwembia.

In the 27th minute, City doubled their lead when Cyrus Saydee passed the ball toward the goal.  Tyrone Mondi ran toward it with Stars defender Nyal Higgins, but dummied it through to Roddy Green who placed it past the goalkeeper.

The first half ended with City up, 2-Nil.

It was Polish-American Heritage Night, and halftime featured traditional P0lish dancing and wardrobe.

Cyrus Saydee seemed to have the field to himself in the 57th minute as he entered the Stars’ end, made it almost to the top of the box, then drilled a shot in the lower corner, beyond the reach of the keeper.

Fernando Pina was on his way to his second straight clean sheet, but in added time, the Stars’ Alex Ofiemu scored from a long throw-in and some pinballing of the ball off legs in the box.

Eight straight victories, and top of the table.

City is finally making Keyworth a tough place to play.  Last year, they recorded 2 wins, 3 draws and a loss, outscoring opponents 10-5.  So far this season, 4 wins and a draw, outscoring opponents 13-6.

In seven days, AFC Ann Arbor would come to our house.  And we wanted them.