Detroit City ‘Til I Die

Over the years I’ve always been envious of the people who had their overseas soccer/football team that they are a die hard supporter of. Some are Manchester United, some support St Pauli, some support smaller more local teams for a variety of reasons. Some people have family there, some randomly picked the team. I’ve always wanted to wake up at 7AM to watch a terrible stream from the other side of the globe to support a team. I’ve always wanted to care so much about a loss that I am heartbroken. I’ve wanted to care so much about a win that I cry with joy.

But I could never pick one. I never felt that allegiance or that belonging to any team. No team ever felt like it was mine.

Until Detroit City FC.

When I walked into Harry’s for that first ever match, I had no idea what I was getting in to. I even left my scarf in the car because I thought it might be weird to bring it in and that no one else would be wearing one. My world changed. I found my place. Since then the Detroit City FC community has become more to me than I ever would have thought. I’ve driven 14 hours a day hours only to turn around and work the next day. I’ve spent countless hours in cars with people that I wouldn’t know for any other reason than Detroit City FC. I’ve found my last two jobs because of the people I’ve met from within this community. The amount of good that has been done in the community because of this team makes me tear up sometimes.

I am so happy that I don’t need to wake up at 7 am on a Saturday to watch my team. I’m so happy that my team is right here in my backyard. This is all so much more than that. Detroit City FC is where I belong. My family and friends may not always understand but all of you do. It’s not the players, it’s not the coaches, it’s not the owners, it’s not supporters, it’s the Spirit of the Detroit City Community.

DCTID

Photo Credit: Dan Garnell

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Detroit City FC Season 2 Post Match Video

Photo Credit: Dan Garnell

So What Now?: Playoff Scenarios and a Guide to Matches That Still Matter

Here’s the short version: DCFC gets the first seed and a first round bye if its the only division champion that wins this weekend, and the second seed and a first round bye if only two division champions win this weekend. If all three division leaders win OR in most cases where DCFC doesn’t, DCFC is locked into hosting a first round match against Rochester Lancers. A Minneapolis draw is basically a win, a Cleveland draw is basically a loss.

But you’re reading a blog about a fourth division soccer club. You probably want the long version.

Detroit City FC clinched the division championship in a very exciting road win over rival Ann Arbor last Sunday. However, they don’t just get to coast in this Saturday’s contest at Kalamazoo, there is still regional seeding to play for. 

The top 2 teams from each of the Midwest Region’s three conferences will make the playoffs, with the champions seeded 1-3 and the runners-up seeded 4-6. The seeding shall be determined among the conferences by points per game, a wild system considering DCFC and the Great Lakes plays 14 games, while the East only plays 10 and the North plays 12. I have a lot of thoughts about who this is an advantage for, and whether or not this system has historically be an advantage or disadvantage for the division that played the most games is a great idea for another post. My hunch is that the teams that come off the worse are the teams that play the fewest games, not the most.

The two division champions with the best PPG get a first round bye, with the third division champion hosting a first round match on Tuesday July 16. After the first round, the semi finals will be on Friday July 19th and the finals on Sunday July 21st, with both rounds occurring at a single venue decided on by vote of the owners. I’d imagine that Keyworth would be seriously in the running to host these rounds for atmosphere reasons, but I can understand why they’d defer to teams with a “higher” seed, and try to spread around playoff hosting.

The truth is Keyworth’s only guaranteed chance to host a playoff match is by DCFC not getting a first round bye, and if that’s something you want I understand where you’re coming from. But I believe they have a better chance at hosting the semis and finals if they get that bye, making both the seeding case and the spreading-the-love case for a Hamtramck hosting bid stronger. Personally I’d prefer the bye whether we host or not.

In the first round, matchups are determined by geography, with the two Easternmost teams playing the two Westernmost teams. This guarantees that Detroit would play the East second place, leaving the second place Great Lakes and North teams to play. (I think this also means if City does get that bye, the East teams will play each other.) In the semis and finals, teams are seeded based on regular season record, meaning the #1 seed is guaranteed to avoid playing another division champ in the semis.

Here’s a look at the current playoff table:

So, if you read the Reddit version of this piece you may have seen a different table and folks, I don’t want to talk about it. This one is right. (And the rest of the math in the Reddit post is right.) Anyways, as you can see City is currently in the third seed, and as both MCFC and CSC have higher possible PPG, to some degree the most likely outcome is that they stay there. But with some help, they can avoid that fate.

Basic scenarios:

DCFC GETS THE #1 OVERALL SEED (AND BYE) IF:

  1. DCFC wins, Minneapolis loses, Cleveland draws or loses.

DCFC GETS THE #2 OVERALL SEED (AND BYE) IF:

  1. DCFC wins, Minneapolis loses, Cleveland wins. OR
  2. DCFC wins, Minneapolis wins, Cleveland draws or loses. OR
  3. DCFC draws, Cleveland draws or loses. OR
  4. DCFC loses, Cleveland loses, Rochester draws or loses.

DCFC GETS THE #3 OVERALL SEED (AND HOSTS RD 1) IF:

  1. Minneapolis wins or draws, Cleveland wins. DCFC result is irrelevant.

Which one of these scenarios is most likely is up for some debate, and depends how you feel about the actual games. DCFC isn’t the only team with stakes: both the East division championship and the rights to the second seeds from the North and Great Lakes division are still up for grabs.

Remaining Games with Stakes

Great Lakes Division:

DCFC @ Kalamazoo FC, 3pm Saturday: DCFC is playing for seeding, Kzoo is playing for pride. They are the only team who handed DCFC a regular season loss so who knows.

AFC Ann Arbor v. Toledo FC, 6pm Friday: Ann Arbor can clinch the playoffs with a win, but a draw or loss leaves them vulnerable to being caught by GR, who is only one point back. Toledo, of course, really sucks with the first meeting being a 4-1 AFCAA win, so the obvious prediction is that AFCAA takes the 3 points and heads to the playoffs, but if that doesn’t happen…

Grand Rapids FC v. Michigan Stars, 7:30pm Saturday: If Ann Arbor doesn’t take 3 points and Grand Rapids does, Grand Rapids steals the last playoff bid. However, Ann Arbor holds the tiebreaker so Grand Rapids would need a win. The Stars did upset the Blues in their first meeting, but GR gets lucky as it will go into the game knowing what the stakes are, due to AFCAA playing first. Am I rooting for Toledo and Grand Rapids this weekend? I’m not committing to saying “no.”

North Division:

Med City FC @ MPLS City FC, 7pm Friday: The match of the weekend. While MPLS has sown up the division, Med City can be caught and miss out on the playoffs. Med City will be going all-out for the win and the chance to clinch the division, hopefully taking the win and opening the door to DCFC’s first round bye. The first meeting was a 1-1 draw at Med City’s place, with Minneapolis scoring an equalizer at 87′. Remember, an MPLS draw is enough for them to clinch the PPG lead over DCFC.

Duluth FC v. LC Aris FC, 7pm Friday: If Med City does lose or draw with MPLS, look for Duluth to take their playoff spot, as they face the North Division’s worst team.

East Division:

Cleveland v. FC Buffalo, 4pm Saturday: Cleveland hasn’t actually clinched the division championship and can do so with a point against FC Buffalo. Buffalo is playing for pride and hopefully will be looking to send their season out on a high note and do a little favor for their old pals in Rouge, while avenging a 3-0 home loss in the first meeting. RIP Rust Belt Derby. Would have loved to see it in the playoffs.

Rochester Lancers @ Erie Commodores FC, 7pm Saturday: Remember Erie? You hate them? They’re not trying to make the playoffs but they are at home against a team that has already clinched the playoffs. This game only matters if Cleveland loses, and barely factors into the DCFC scenarios. Erie did win the first meeting, but a draw last week knocked them out of playoff contention.

A Prediction/Hope

While on paper it might seem that our best hope for a first round bye is a Cleveland draw, I think there’s a better chance that Med City comes out swinging, needed a win to sew up a playoff bid against a Minneapolis team that might have its foot off the gas with the division title in hand. Their first meeting almost resulted in a Med City win, so its not as if they’re overmatched. Buffalo hasn’t had such a bad season that a Cleveland upset is out of the question, but Cleveland has only given up 8 goals this season, second in the region to DCFC’s 5. A weekend where everything goes wild and DCFC stumbles into the first seed and parlays that into hosting the semis and finals would be pretty sweet, but I think that’s something of a long shot. Hopefully the second seed is enough for the league’s owners to send the playoffs to Keyworth. If everything goes chalk, a date with Rochester is hopefully just a warmup for a big playoff weekend.

Yes, this is basically the same post that was posted on the r/DetroitCityFC subreddit, a place where I encourage you to hang out. Miko asked me to post it here, and I’m going to try to post more stat-y and research-y things. You can follow me on twitter @jmwink_, but you don’t have to.

2019 NPSL Midwest Region, Great Lakes Conference Table (Through July 7)

With that 1-3 away victory at Ann Arbor, DCFC clinches the Great Lakes Conference regular season title.

Even a Grand Rapids victory, Ann Arbor victory, and DCFC loss next weekend (worst case scenario) would still see DCFC finish 1st (even with Ann Arbor on points with 30, but DCFC wins the head-to-head tiebreaker).

That being said, to ensure a top 2 finish in the Region, DCFC need to close out their regular season with a win at Kalamazoo, and then hope the leaders in the other conferences (Mpls City in the North and Cleveland in the East) drop some points for their Points Per Game to take a hit. A win against K’zoo would bring DCFC up to 33 points on 14 matches (2.357 PPG).

Buffalo and Rochester ended earlier today in a 1-1 draw, which means the East looks like this:

Cleveland face FC Buffalo 4pm on Saturday, July 13th. A draw or loss for Cleveland would leave them below 2.357 PPG.

The North, meanwhile, saw Minneapolis City defeat Duluth 4-2, so that their table looks like this:

Minneapolis City clinch the North title with that victory. However, they face Med City in the final round of matches, and Med City are still battling it out for 2nd place in the conference. If Med City were to beat Mpls City next Friday night, that would also leave them below 2.357 PPG.

So hold your horses, folks. It ain’t over yet. Next Friday/Saturday will see the playoff seeding decided. Then it’ll be a short 3 days before the Quarterfinals on the 16th, followed by the Semifinals on the 19th and the Final on the 21st.

Strength and inspiration

Nice job on the clinching boys! Now it’s time to bring home two more pieces of silverware.

A fantastic 1-3 result gives Detroit City FC the conference championship and a seed in the playoffs. This club is incredible. Unlike last season, they are better able to read each other and anticipate where to put the ball. It’s a sight to see for an amateur club playing professionally. They’ve been the best team on every pitch since before the Prideraiser campaign began. TMFJ has easily fit right in and shown what his management is worth. The club, each player, and the fans have been a spectacular sight to see. I don’t want this to be cheesy, but I’ve found strength in myself through City.

I’ve been having a difficult time away from absorbing the atmosphere. This club means so much to me and watching through a screen, unable to engage in the psychological warfare, has been difficult. I’ve progressed through my degree, only sacrificed one match for a social gathering, and here I stand facing my largest challenge to date, the dissertation. I had little faith in this season for city. I watched the friendlies, cheered them on from my living room, and felt like something was missing. They found that something early on and have not looked back since. City began with scaffolding and laid down real foundations for greatness. Likewise, I’m taking inspiration from this club.

With every word, like every pass – with every well-structured argument, like every goal – with every section completed, like every win – I take inspiration from this club. They were able to show strength, will continue to show strength, and will win their first ever national championship – just as I will complete my degree and come home to watch them win the Founders Cup. This team is different and much better than the one last year (just as we are all different people from last year). This club and the dynasty which will be built from it inspires greatness in each of us. We should all hope to do better than we have done. We are all capable.

There are big things ahead for DCFC and it won’t be easy, but what is temporary gives the opportunity to build permanence in the structure. I want this club to survive long after we all die and those memories be passed along to future supporters born in 2119 CE and further. Likewise, I hope to make a real impact one day in changing public perception of policy-relevant science which may outlive me. Maybe my ideas will change and I may fail, just as the players who wear the crest will change or fail. The optimism of impact provides a drive for greatness. I will watch every possible match I can and will never give up on this club. DCFC is greater than any one idea, fan, player, coach. That’s why I gain inspiration from Detroit City FC’s perseverance and strength.

Detroit City FC deserves immortality.

2019 NPSL Midwest Region, Great Lakes Conference Table (Through July 5)

Ann Arbor’s 0-2 victory over FC Indiana combined with DCFC’s 1-1 draw against Grand Rapids means a 1st-place tie on points with 2 matches remaining in the league. Grand Rapids is still in the race for 2nd place (which earns a berth to the Midwest Regional Playoffs).

Two of Sunday’s matches, FC Indiana vs. Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor vs. DCFC, will have playoff implications.

2019 NPSL Midwest Region, Great Lakes Conference Table (Through June 30)

After an over-filled slate of league fixtures over the weekend (that saw everyone except DCFC and AFC Ann Arbor play twice), the gaps between the top 3 in the table have stayed the same.

Le Rouge continues to have a 2-point lead over AFC Ann Arbor, and a 4-point lead over Grand Rapids FC.

Grand Rapids took three points from two home games with a 1-0 victory over Kalamazoo on Friday night followed by a 0-2 loss against Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon.

The last 3 rounds of league fixtures will be quickfire, taking place between July 3rd and July 13th. DCFC’s next league match is Friday, July 5th, at home versus Grand Rapids FC. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30pm.

2019 NPSL Midwest Region, Great Lakes Conference Table (Through June 23)

After today’s stunning 3-2 home win by the Michigan Stars over Grand Rapids FC, Detroit City keeps that 4-point gap on Grand Rapids, though now Grand Rapids has just one game in hand remaining.

Next Friday’s match between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, and next Sunday’s match between Grand Rapids and AFC Ann Arbor will be important to help define the narrative of deciding who will finish Top Two in the division, and qualify for the Midwest Conference Playoffs.