2017 Summary: A Season in Three Acts

2017 Summary
A Season in Three Acts

 

Act I

Intermission

Act II

Intermission

Act III

 

August 5, 2017: vs Midland/Odessa FC (NPSL Playoff Semi-Final)

August 5, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL National Semi-Final
Detroit City FC 0, Midland/Odessa FC 0 (2-4)
Attendance:  7,533

At 2:00 in the afternoon, the match was sold out.

Prior to the march, tickets were being scalped for three-to-five times face value.

The line-up on Conat was larger than I had ever seen it.

It was a tough match.  Chances for City were few, and Fernando Pina kept us in the game.  The packed stadium brimmed with nervous tension.  No score after ninety.  No score in the thirty-minute extra time.  It came down to penalty kicks.

Midland/Odessa  Alvaro Rubio – Goal (0-1)
DCFC Roddy Green – Saved (0-1)
Midland/Odessa Andrew Moulin – Goal (0-2)
DCFC Shawn Lawson – Goal (1-2)
Midland/Odessa Issac Sanchez – Goal (1-3)
DCFC Mauricio Castorino – saved (1-3)
Midland/Odessa Jamie O’Grady – missed (1-3)
DCFC Stephen Carroll – Goal (2-3)
Midland/Odessa Elliot Bentley – Goal (2-4)

This was the third time in four elimination round matches in Detroit City FC history that we came up short from the spot.

The team may have fell short on the night, however, that did not take away from the fact that Detroit City FC was the 2017 NPSL Midwest Region Champions.

O-lay O-lay
O-lay O-low
Detroit City
We love you so.

August 2, 2017: vs Windsor TFC (Friendly)

August 2, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
Friendly
Detroit City FC 0, Windsor TFC 0
Attendance:  4,132

This match just felt…weird.

A storm had come through during the afternoon, with serious lightning and thunder, then cleared up as game time approached.

This friendly has annually been the final match of the season in Detroit.  But not this evening.

It made sense that with the huge playoff match on Saturday, a number of players who had not seen many minutes this season could use this as a tune-up should they be called into the squad for the playoffs.  Seeing David Dwaihy, Spencer Thompson, Bret Mollon, and Josh Rogers on the pitch was a flashback to our days at Cass.

Still.  It was a City match, which meant enthusiasm for our club.

I took this opportunity to test out the Nikon N-70 film camera again.

Yes, I have been accused of being a Luddite.  I have, and use, typewriters…

prefer books to reading digitally…

and I use both a landline and flip phone…

But go back to film?  No thanks.

 

July 29, 2017: vs AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL Midwest Regional Playoff Final)

July 29, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Midwest Regional Playoff Final
Detroit City FC 3, AFC Ann Arbor 2
Attendance:  6,409

DCFC  Jordan Tyler (Zach Bock)  35′
DCFC  Omar Sinclair 45′
AFCAA  Tendai Jirira 75′
AFCAA  Alec Lasinski 81′
DCFC  Tyrone Mondi (Bakie Goodman) 90+

Twenty-one matches:
Three pre-season friendlies.
Two international friendlies.
Fourteen NPSL regular season matches.
Two playoff matches.

And in all those matches, Detroit City FC lost only two – both to AFC Ann Arbor.

The general feeling, from Fowling Warehouse to Keyworth Stadium, was not, ‘oh shit,’ but ‘hell ya!’  Supporters and the team were ready for them on July 7th, but the soccer gods rained down on Detroit, cooling the momentum so not to overheat the engine.

Tonight, we were coming in numbers.

The first half began with each team getting their chances while wrestling for control of the match.  In the first quarter hour, Zach Bock had a chance off a corner kick.  Later, Fernando Pina made a point-blank save, then another on the rebound.  By the half hour mark, the play became chippy, AFC Ann Arbor applying its physical game.

Tyrone Mondi fouled just outside the box set up an opportunity for Omar Sinclair to work his magic from a free kick.  However his attempt curled just off to the left of the goal.

In the 35th minute, Jordon Tyler made a run toward the goal, his shot forcing a corner kick.  This set up City’s opening strike.  Mondi crossed it to the far side, where Zach Bock sent it toward goal for Tyler to smack it past Ann Arbor’s keeper, T.J. Tomasso.

A handball by an Ann Arbor defender just outside their goal created another chance for a free kick in the final minute of the half.  Up stepped Sinclair again, this time curling it to the right, leaving T.J. Tomasso’s feet planted to the ground, and providing City with a 2-0 lead.

The soccer gods orchestrated a mythic conclusion to the match.  We felt good with the 2-0 lead.  Then Ann Arbor made some changes at the 54th minute, which included bringing Alec Lasinski and Kwessi Allen onto the pitch.  Lasinski played for City last season, scored City’s first goal at Keyworth, and the game-winner for Ann Arbor in the suspended match at Keyworth.  Kwessi Allen was the player who ran into me in that suspended match, causing me to hit the pitch and break my wrist.

Allen didn’t last long.  In the 66th minute, Allen went in with a malicious tackle on Bakie Goodman, earning him a straight red card.  This seemed to cause City to take the foot off the gas pedal, and infuse Ann Arbor with energy, turning our 10>11 mantra against us.  In the 75th minute, Tendai Jirira stripped a City defender and cut in from an angle to dirty the sheet.  Then, six minutes later, Alec Lasinski was on the receiving end of a long ball from midfield, sending it past Pina to level the match with nine minutes plus stoppage time.

The final nine minutes and stoppage time would determine whether the game would extend by thirty minutes.  The clock hit 90, the fourth official showed six minutes of added time, and about three minutes into it, Pina rolled the ball out to the left side to Steve Carroll.  Carroll moved it ahead to Shawn Lawson on the other side of the midfield stripe.  Lawson passed it ahead and cross field to Tyler Moorman.  Moorman sent the ball into the box, toward the left post, where an Ann Arbor defender headed it out, but onto the head of Bakie Goodman who directed it to the right where Tyler Mondi sent it into the back of the net with his right foot, for the goal that will live forever in Detroit City FC lore.  The kind of goal where you will always remember where you were when it was scored.

There was still time on the clock, and AFC Ann Arbor pressed, even after going down to nine men when Jake Rufe went in hard on Zach Schewee, earning a red card.  The final whistle blew, and the celebration began.

I certainly don’t consider myself a soccer scholar.  But I cannot think of any match in the State of Michigan that can compare to this one.  It had everything you could want.  A championship match, between two teams who dislike each other, with the home team going into the locker room with a two goal lead, then the visitor goes down a man due to a red card only to come back and level the match with two goals, and the home team winning in extra time on a beautiful team goal that began with the keeper, before 6,400 fans.  Has there been anything like this, ever, in Michigan soccer?  I highly doubt it.

Detroit City FC are the 2017 NPSL Midwest Region Champions.

From here, the team qualified for the NPSL Semi-Finals, with Midland-Odessa FC from Texas to visit Keyworth in a week’s time.

 

 

July 28, 2017: vs Duluth FC (NPSL Midwest Regional Playoff Semi-Final)

July 28, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Midwest Region Semi-Final
Detroit City FC 5, Duluth FC 2
Attendance:  6,989

Detroit  Tyrone Mondi (Shawn Lawson) 18′
Duluth  Kyle Farrar 25′
Duluth  Ben Phillips 27′
Detroit Tyrone Mondi 32′
Detroit Dave Edwardson (Tyrone Mondi) 35′
Detroit Tyrone Mondi 45′
Detroit Omar Sinclair 69′

After City’s victory over Dakota Fusion FC, and Dayton’s victory of Erie, the semi-finals were paired based on these seedings:

1.  AFC Ann Arbor
2.  Duluth FC
4.  Detroit City FC
6.  Dayton Dynamo.

The four teams put in bids to host the Friday semi-finals and Saturday final.  I had heard that at the end of the bidding process, Detroit and Ann Arbor were tied in votes (with Detroit and Dayton selecting Detroit; Duluth & Ann Arbor selecting Ann Arbor).  I have no idea how the final decision was made, but we won the opportunity to host this playoff showcase.

Three days before the match, our community was shook by the near-fatal accident of one of our own.  Amanda , a capo, was struck by a truck as she was riding her bike to work.  She underwent several hours of surgeries, as we were collectively holding our breath and sending prayers and positive thoughts her way.

 

Who is Duluth FC?

2017 was the team’s first season in the NPSL, playing previously in the Duluth Amateur Soccer League (2015) and American Premier League (2016).  Owned by an Orthodox Christian priest, foul language is discouraged at their matches.  Good gracious, were they in for a cultural clash.

Duluth FC finished at the top of the Northern Division of the Midwest Region with eight wins, a couple losses, and four draws.  They scored 42 goals while conceding only 18.  Kyle Farrar was fourth in the NPSL in scoring, with 13 goals in 12 matches.

The first match was AFC Ann Arbor vs Dayton Dynamo.

I found a camera shop in Ann Arbor that sold and developed 35mm film.  I decided to see if the old Nikon N70 was worth bringing out of retirement by shooting a roll here.

The last two photos were from the Sony digital.  After I ran out of film, this took place and had to shoot it.  The Dayton player said some unkind things to the ref about a non-call.  If Duluth FC scouts were in the stands, this player was probably eliminated as a prospect from their no-foul-language team.

In the second minute of stoppage time, with the scoreless match looking like overtime, Ann Arbor’s James Vaughan converted a free kick from just outside the box, to place AFC Ann Arbor in the Midwest Region finals.

In the 18th minute, Shawn Lawson from midfield sent a ball out to the left wing.  Tyrone Mondi out-hustled two Duluth defenders , and put City in the lead.

Duluth was not here by chance.  In the 25th minute, Kyle Farrar, the fourth leading scorer in the NPSL, leveled the match.  With the let down, Duluth came down the pitch two minutes later, and Ben Phillips popped one behind Pina, to shift the lead.

Not about to roll over, City kept on working.  In the 32nd minute, Troy Watson received the ball on the right wing, and crossed it into the box.  Cyrus Saydee took a point blank shot at Duluth keeper Tom Greensall, who made the save, but the ball rebounded to Tyrone Mondi who poked it into the back of the net.

Two-Two.

Three minutes later, Tyrone Mondi from the corner…

Three-Two

As the half neared its conclusion, City kept on the pressure.  Two Duluth defenders had a miscommunication, resulting in the ball bouncing past them and onto the foot of Tyrone Mondi to complete the first-half hat trick.

In the 49th minute, Tyrone Mondi was hauled down in the box by Duluth’s Gonnie Ben-Tal, causing the ref to point to the spot for a penalty kick.  Ben-Tal took exception, claiming Mondi went down early, which caused a heated discussion among the players on the pitch.  Shawn Lawson stepped up to the penalty spot, but his shot just missed the lower corner of the net.

Duluth wasn’t about to go away, and kept up the pressure, which afforded counter-attacking for City.  It was Tyrone Mondi once more, taken down just outside the box in the 69’th minute, which lead to this Omar Sinclair free kick…

Five-Two.

On to the Midwest Region Finals!

Another outstanding performance by the team.

 

July 22, 2017: vs Dakota Fusion FC (NPSL Midwest Regional Playoff)

July 22, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
NPSL Midwest Region Playoffs
Detroit City FC 5, Dakota Fusion FC 1
Attendance:  6,672

Dakota  Zuheer Al Abase 19′
Detroit  Shawn Lawson (Cyrus Saydee) 25′
Detroit  Seb Harris (PK)  35′
Detroit  Roddy Green (Bakie Goodman, Shawn Lawson) 47′
Detroit  Shawn Lawson (PK saved, put in the rebound) 76′
Detroit  Seb Harris (Tyrone Mondi) 81′

The playoffs.  Yeah baby!

Here’s how it worked.  There are four regions in the NPSL: Northeast, South, Midwest, and West.  Detroit City FC was in the Great Lakes Conference, one of three conferences within the Midwest Region.  Only the top two teams from each conference – East, Great Lakes, and North – qualified for the playoffs.  They were:

-North Conference:  Erie Commodores FC & Dayton Dynamo.
-Midwest Conference: AFC Ann Arbor & Detroit City FC
-West Conference:  Duluth FC & Dakota Fusion FC

The three first place teams were seeded 1-3 based on points per game.  The second place teams were seeded 4-6 based on points per game.

1.  AFC Ann Arbor
2.  Duluth FC
3.  Erie Commodores FC
4.  Detroit City FC
5.  Dakota Fusion FC
6.  Dayton Dynamo.

The #1 and #2 seeds received a bye into the semi-finals, and quarter-finals matches pit #3 v #6 and #4 v #5.  And that’s how we got here, in Keyworth, to host Dakota Fusion FC.

Dakota Fusion FC, from Fargo, North Dakota, was established in 2016, and finished the 2017 season in second place of the West Conference of the Midwest Region, with 9 wins and 5 losses.  In 14 games, they scored 37 goals and conceded 27 goals for a clip of 2.64 goals per game and 1.93 goals against.  In other words, they score a lot, and give up a lot.  Forward Jade Johnson was third in the league in goals scored, having tallied 17 goals in 13 games.

Our guests scored in the 19th minute, as Zuheer Al Abase received a throw-in, brought the ball to the box, and fired a shot past Fernando Pina.  Their lead lasted all of six minutes when Cyrus Saydee, driving up the middle of the pitch, thread a pass through to Shawn Lawson who went in all alone and scored.

In the 35th minute, it was Cyrus Saydee slipping through three Fusion defenders into the box where Sunaj Beljulji had no option other than to take him down, providing City with a penalty kick.  Up to the spot stepped Seb Harris.

Taking a 2-1 lead into the locker room at half time was a good feeling, especially after dominating the play.  It got better shortly after the second half began.

Two minutes in, Bakie Goodman connected a pass to Shawn Lawson, who fed Roddy Green, who fired the ball into the back of the net.

3-1.

In the 76th minute, Shawn Lawson was taken down in the box, setting up another penalty kick opportunity.  This time, Lawson steps up to the spot.

4-1

Five minutes later, a corner kick, and a goal.

And that makes five.

This team and these supporters have hungered for this.  Tonight, Dakota Fusion FC provided us with a feast.

The word out of Erie, Pennsylvania was that the Dayton Dynamo defeated Erie Commodores FC by a score of 1-0.  This meant the Midwest Region Semi-Final match ups were AFC Ann Arbor vs Dayton Dynamo, and Detroit City FC vs Duluth FC.  Location yet to be determined, as each of the four teams would bid on the opportunity to host the Semi-Finals and Final match.

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?