September 19, 2015: Ann Arbor FC (friendly)

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September 19, 2015
Detroit Public Schools Showcase Doubleheader
League match:
Cass Tech High School 5, Detroit Renaissance High School 2
Friendly:
Detroit City FC 3, Ann Arbor FC 2
Cass Tech Stadium
Attendance: 1,511

It was a full day downtown on this Saturday.  First, there was the Midtown Literary Walk, featuring ten authors at four venues (The Hannan House, N’Nambi Gallery, Socra Tea, and Wayne State University Welcome Center).  Then, a brief meeting with a law school classmate who wanted to purchase a copy of my novel.

I arrived at Harry’s just in time for Sarg’s speech to send us off on our march to Cass.  A week before, the team announced a proposal to move to Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck.  And with team captain Josh Rogers announcing his retirement at the end of July, this evening was the ending of an era.

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This event – the Detroit Public Schools Showcase – is a double-header match and fundraiser for the high school programs.  The lead game was the match between Cass Tech High School (white kits) and Detroit Renaissance (rouge kits). In 2012, when Le Rouge first took the field, there was no boys soccer program at Cass Tech.  Thanks to DCFC, that has changed.  The Supporters modified their chants for the high school teams and Cass won by a score of 5-2.

The afternoon also saw the creation of a partnership between the usual plumes of smoke from Supporters Section and the recently utilized bubble machine.  Smoke bubbles.

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The match against Ann Arbor FC was a thriller.  After Tom Eller put Ann Arbor up 2-0, with goals in the fourth and fifty-first minute, Le Rouge refused to let their final match at Cass go down in defeat.  Awarded a penalty kick in the sixty-third minute, captain Josh Rogers stepped up and cut Ann Arbor’s lead in half.

Then, Stephen Ademolu, who had a strong game, tied it in the 74th minute and won it in the 78th.  From then on, it was a celebration of our time at Cass, with our captain Josh Rogers.

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A week later, I was at Cass Park in the morning.  On the way home, I decided to make a stop by what will be our new home.  Access to the inside was not possible, but I snapped a few shots from outside.

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July 25, 2015: AFC Cleveland in Madison, WI, NPSL Midwest Regional Playoffs Semi-Finals

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July 25, 2015
Detroit City FC 1, AFC Cleveland 2
Breese Stevens Stadium, Madison, WI
AFCC  Antonio Manfut (James Haupt) 7′
AFCC  Brian Potocnik 75′
DCFC  Charlie MacInnes 76′
Attendance:  More of us than them.

Thursday morning I packed my bag and drove the tollroad-free 475 miles, from home to the La Quinta hotel in Madison, Wisconsin.  The journey began at 9:45AM, and I found the hotel buried in a huge mass of big box stores at around 7:00 PM (8:00 PM Detroit time).  I wasn’t in a hurry, but I also didn’t anticipate that the route avoiding the toll roads would include a long non-highway stretch out of Chicago north toward Milwaukee, and a construction detour outside Milwaukee to connect up with westbound I-94 to Madison.  I’ve driven by myself to Washington DC in the past, which is a hundred miles further, however this trip seemed longer for some reason.  Maybe the parking lot of I-94 in Chicago had something to do with it.

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Checked into the hotel, I unpacked, making myself at home.

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Taking a look at the view of big box stores, I noticed the hotel even had an asshole parking space.11700559_10152888401010826_1448724963124329824_o

Settled in, I then explored the Barnes & Noble and Half Price Books that were in this retail hub.  I know.  Some folks head out to find interesting taverns to partake in adult beverages.  My addictions are chocolate and books.

Friday’s events began at The Brass Ring Pub, just a couple blocks away from the stadium.  Game time was 3:00.  Who schedules a semi-final playoff match on a Friday afternoon at 3:00?  Perhaps a host who fears being outnumbered by a contingent of Detroiters?  Hah!  We gathered, grabbed lunch and hydration, then marched to Breese Stevens Stadium.

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Once inside the old, classic stadium, the stands were nearly empty.  There were probably more people on the field, counting all the players, team staff, and officials than had paid to get in.  This is why you don’t schedule a match at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon.  But of the spectators, our supporters were probably fifty percent of the crowd.

We were against our Rust Belt Derby rival, AFC Cleveland.  We did our thing – chanting and taunting.  Placed in a very effective position, right behind Le Rouge bench, and with an otherwise quiet stadium, our voices carried.  Cleveland scored early, and the rest of the match was a battle.  Was there controversy?  Of course.

At one point during the first half, after Cleveland’s goal, the referee said something to the fourth official, who then came over to us.  He said that we had to knock it off or else they would kick us out.  Really?  Did a referee actually think he had that kind of power over us?

There was also an issue about the balls.  It appeared that Madison had only one league-regulation ball.  The officials determined that they were going to use DCFC’s balls, which Coach Pirmann pointed out were under-inflated.  Before the second half, there’s a photo of the officials inflating balls.

For the second half, I stayed near the Northern Guard, as Le Rouge attacked the net closest to them.  Cleveland scored a second, but Charlie MacInnes came back a minute later and punched the ball into the back of the Cleveland net to negate it.  The final fourteen minutes Le Rouge pushed, but could not bury a second to force a tie and extra time.

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In the end, it was disappointing.  The boys in rouge put everything they had out on that pitch, but the soccer gods denied us advancement to the finals match on Saturday.  The handful of spectators and AFC Cleveland having left the scene of the crime, we were together – team and supporters – absorbing emotionally what had occurred.  Then, the jackass up in the press box played “Hit the Road, Jack” over the public address system.  The Supporters raised a finger to him, which he flashed back at us.  I tried to get a shot of it, but didn’t catch it.  The team left the field, but a few of the supporters took to the pitch to burn off a final burst of energy.

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I checked out of the hotel on Saturday  morning, visited A Room of One’s Own, an independent book store joined with Avol’s Rare and Used Books in downtown Madison, where 25-minute limit parking meters collected revenue in front.  Who does that? Twenty-five minutes is what I usually need in the Fiction Section alone!  After lunch at The Brass Ring, I made my way home.  Was I sorry I made the trip?  Hell no!  Though another season closed prematurely, it’s another chapter in this long saga of the Detroit City Football Club, making myself and I’m sure my brothers and sisters in the Northern Guard Supporters eager to turn the page and begin Chapter 2016.

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One for our Madison NGS host, Mark Navarro  DSC00979

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July 22, 2015: Windsor Stars (friendly)

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July 22, 2015
Detroit City FC 0, Windsor Stars 1
Windsor 61′
Attendance:  3,485

A massive Wednesday night crowd of almost 3,500 sent Le Rouge off to Madison with encouragement to bring the division trophy home.

A 1-0 win by Windsor did not quell the enthusiasm of the night.  I photographed the first half, but took the second half off to immerse myself in the Supporters Section.  At the 85th minute, it all let loose.  The Northern Guard Supporters had stocked up on smoke, in anticipation of hosting the playoffs.  It all went off during those final five minutes of the night.

The evening ended with a team and supporter Tetris held on the pitch at Cass.

On with the show:

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2015 Black Arrow Award Winner is….

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David Edwardson!!!DSC00774 DSC00777 DSC00779 DSC00780 DSC00782 DSC00784 DSC00785 DSC00788 DSC00789 DSC00790 DSC00791 DSC00795 DSC00803 DSC00806

July 19, 2015: at Michigan Stars

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July 19, 2015
Detroit City FC 2, Michigan Stars 0
Wisner Memorial Stadium
DCFC  Javi Bautista (Bobby Budlong) 51′
DCFC  Seb Harris (Cyrus Saydee) 56′
Attendance:  More Le Rouge fans than Stars fans.

Final match of the regular season in Pontiac against the Michigan Stars.  I arrived early, garbed in my photographer’s vest peppered with City After Dark/NGS buttons, Rouge Rover scarf draped over my shoulders, and black DCFC cap.  Bought my ticket then went through the gate where I was met by two security guards.  One of them asked me if I was with the other team.

Really?

I acknowledged the obvious, to which he then pointed to the opposite side of the field.  “You go over there.”

Always interesting visiting this opponent.

The game meant nothing to the Stars, and to us it only determined where we would be seeded in the playoffs to be held in Madison, Wisconsin.  Still, it was the Stars, and after scaring them to the other side of the field during warm-ups, defeating them on the score sheet was the goal.  Two goals within five minutes in the second half by Javi Bautista and Seb Harris ended the regular season on a winning note.

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July 17, 2015: Erie Commodores FC

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July 17, 2015
Detroit City FC 2, Erie Commodores 3
Cass Tech Stadium
ERIE  Jimmy Barrios 13′
DCFC  Will Mellors-Blair (Cyrus Saydee) 21′
DCFC  Will Mellors-Blair (Cyrus Saydee) 42′
ERIE  Eric Campbell 68′
ERIE  Austin Solomon 75′
Attendance:  3,793

Another sellout at Cass Stadium tonight as Erie came to town.  Demoted from “Admirals” to “Commodores,” it was the same old Erie  (#HateErie).

Final home matches tend to mean something in securing our place in the playoffs.  In 2012, we lost to Erie at home, costing us the opportunity to host the playoffs.  In 2013, it was against an undefeated FC Buffalo, and though we still had three road matches remaining, beating Buffalo was an important three points in securing a spot in the playoffs and hosting them.  In 2014, it was a must-win against Fort Pitt which led to the division-title-deciding match in Lansing two days later.

This season, the stakes were high once again.  A win here and in two days against the Michigan Stars on their field put us in the position of hosting the playoffs.  Unfortunately, this loss, coupled with a Madison 56ers win against the Minnesota Twinstars the next day, meant travel to Wisconsin for the division playoffs.

Another exciting match, with Will Mellors-Blair’s brace taking us into halftime with a 2-1 lead.  However, Erie was Erie, and Danny Mudd came up big for the seamen, keeping them in the game until they notched goals by Campbell and Solomon for the victory.

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July 11, 2015: Michigan Stars

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July 11, 2015
Detroit City FC 3, Michigan Stars 1
Cass Tech Stadium
DCFC  Will Mellors-Blair 4′
DCFC  Josh Rogers 41′ (PK)
MICH  Alex Sertwatka (Alexander Adelabu) 62′
DCFC  Will Mellors-Blair (Alex Isaevski) 78′
Attendance:  3,884

Another record-breaking crowd as Le Rouge trounce the Michigan Stars in this excellent game.  Will Mellors-Blair gave City an early lead in the fourth minute.  Four minutes before the end of the first half Le Rouge was awarded a penalty kick which captain Josh Rogers converted.

The Stars carried the play between the two DCFC goals, but went into the halftime locker room down 2-0.  In the second half, the Stars cut the lead in half with a goal in the 62nd minute by Alex Sertwatka.  Le Rouge sealed the deal in the 78th minute when Alex Isaevski delivered a beautiful outlet ball which Will Mellors-Blair ran onto and buried into the Stars’ goal.

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June 28, 2015: Lansing United

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June 28, 2015
Detroit City FC 1, Lansing United 0
Cass Tech Stadium
DCFC  Will Mellors-Blair 39′
Attendance:  3,701

Lansing United came into Detroit undefeated and on top of the league.  They went home defeated and in third place.  A record crowd of 3,701 witnessed the beautiful goal by Will Mellors-Blair…

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…a crucial save by Alexandre Bouillennec, and 90 minutes of a competitive soccer match.

It also saw the return of Friendly the Polar Bear!

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On with the show.

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