Remember the Members: A Cupdate

As is often the case in late summer, DCFC has been focused on friendlies. Atlas’ visit was nothing short of historic, and while I’d like to say the same about the Philadelphia Fury it seems possible to me that even if NISA is a wild success maybe the Fury are less historic and more history.

But alas, DCFC is in the middle of a league. And while Le Rouge was hosting its friendlies, that league was still very much happening. You may recall that when we last saw our heroes play a competitive match, they were at the top of the Member’s Cup table very early in the season. After two weeks off, DCFC has somehow only fallen to 2nd, despite having played 3 fewer matches than 3rd-place Chattanooga. How did we get here? Let’s have a Cupdate.

1. New York Cosmos- 10 points, 4 matches played, 2.5 points per match, 3-0-1

Going into the Member’s Cup, I think you could have made a pretty reasonable prediction that it would come down to either City or the Cosmos, and based on current results that appears to be the case. The Cosmos started the Member’s Cup with a narrow 1-0 road win against Chattanooga FC. An away win in Chattanooga is nothing to sneeze at, but the cracks started appearing in the next match, a 2-2 home draw against Milwaukee, who was not projected to be in the competitions’ top half. Granted, that match was a little flukey. It was 2-0 NYC at 88’ when Milwaukee got the ball past a keeper that was playing way out, and scored the second four minutes later off of some confusion in the box. A 2-0 road win @ Stars is solid, and I would actually argue that more worrying than the Milwaukee loss is their performance in a win. Going into the match, Napa’s GD was -12, good for 4 goals against per match. The Cosmos scored 1 at home. One mitigating factor worth mentioning is that the Cosmos went down to 10 immediately after the goal, but not scoring at all in the first half is inconsistent with the results other teams have earned against Napa.

2. Detroit City FC- 6 pts, 2 MP, 3 PPM, 2-0-0

You may recall that DCFC beat Chattanooga 2-1 and then Napa 4-0. They remain perfect, and somehow have 8 full matches left in this competition.

3. Chattanooga FC, 5pts, 5 MP, 1 PPM, 1-2-2

Hoo boy. Chattanooga is clinging to third. Sure, third might be the natural place you would have expected Chattanooga to end up, but at this pace they are very much in danger of ending up a bottom-half team. Opening the competition with (discussed above) matches against NYC and DCFC is brutal, harder than any other club’s opening pair. But a home draw against Stars is a poor result. They did the thing everyone has done and thrashed Napa, but that just might not be enough to save their season. If they had gotten say, four points in their opening three matches a draw at Milwaukee probably would have been enough, but halfway through the competition it might have made them the first team out of the “Big Three” that almost certainly won’t touch the championship.

4. Milwaukee Torrent, 5pts, 3 MP, 1.67 PPM, 1-0-2

Listen, I get the risks in calling a team “the surprise of the tournament,” based on two draws, but when those draws are against Chattanooga and New York, Milwaukee is a strong candidate. I think tomorrow’s match in Milwaukee is a real chance for City to get its first non-win. Milwaukee may not have what it takes to win the competition, but they’ve held two of the Cup’s presumed powers to single points and have only given up three goals in three matches, with a clean sheet against Napa (like everyone else). If Milwaukee can get any sort of result off of City tomorrow, they’ll put themselves in great position to be worth watching out for during the rest of the Members Cup.

5. Michigan Stars FC, 1 pt, 2 MP, .5 PPM, 0-1-1

Stars held Chattanooga to a tie, and lost to New York at home. Technically, they have enough time to make up for it, but ultimately I think the most likely outcome is just barely edging Napa for fifth.

6. Napa Valley 1839 FC, 0 pts, 4 MP, 0 PPM, 0-4-0

Napa has four losses and a -13 goal differential. They have yet to score a single goal in the competition. In case you were wondering, Napa went 3-6-2 in regular season NPSL play, earning 11 points in 11 matches. Not great for the team that travels the most.

The big observation I have here is this: These standings meet the eye test. NYC and DCFC are on top, with Chattanooga, Milwaukee, Stars, and Napa following in that order. I think most NPSL observers would have predicted standings that look pretty close to this. The catch is that Chattanooga is in grave danger of ending the competition in fourth.

Another observation is that the table is going to be very confusing as long as everyone’s played uneven matches. Here is a table showing the remaining schedule for the top 4 teams, as well as how many matches ahead or behind DCFC each team will be once the listed match day is complete:

(In case you were wondering, the “long” break Chatta takes involves two weekdays, both of the Saturdays they have off they play NISA friendlies v. Stumptown Athletic. DCFC plays @ Philly on the 26th. The Cosmos do not appear to have anything scheduled for the 26th).

City’s schedule is packed from here on out. Everyone plays every Saturday, and City adds those two weeknight matches. I imagine we’ll see a lot of squad rotation for those weeknights, and we should thank our lucky… you know that they’re against a fairly weak team a short drive away.

Circle These Matches

DCFC @ Milwaukee Torrent, Saturday September 14th

DCFC can’t take the lead back from NYC, but can keep on pace to overtake them once they’re level on games. Milwaukee looks to prove this isn’t a fluke and deserves a seat at the big kids table.

New York Cosmos @ DCFC, Saturday September 21st

Once the Cosmos play this match, they’ll only have four to go, where City will still have six. A DCFC win likely means they have a commanding lead in points-per-match, and would give City enough breathing room that a loss in the New York leg wouldn’t be devastating. A New York win would set up a crucial away match for City in October.

Chattanooga FC @ New York Cosmos, Saturday September 28th

DCFC @ Chattanooga FC, Saturday October 5th

These will be matches 8 and 9 for Chattanooga. If Chatta even wants to challenge for second, they likely need 6 points. If they get those 6 as part of a more general late-season unbeaten streak, maybe they can keep their championship dreams on life support.

Detroit City FC @ New York Cosmos, Saturday October 12

The return trip. Whoever wins the first match, it is likely that at this second match someone has the opportunity to virtually clinch, if not literally clinch, the Championship.

Milwaukee Torrent @ Detroit City FC, New York Cosmos @ Napa Valley 1839 FC, Saturday October 19th

The last match for each of our main competitors, with the Torrent thrown in for good measure. While these aren’t actually the last matches of the Member’s Cup, chances are a Champion is crowned on this night, with the rest of the positions being close to solidified.

Milwaukee Torrent @ Chattanooga FC, Saturday October 26th

Only time will tell if this is a meaningless match on the last night of the season or if its a battle where the winner overtakes DCFC or New York and clinches second place.

Michigan Stars FC @ Napa Valley 1839 FC, Saturday October 26th

Unless Napa has already clinched, there is a very real chance that the winner of this last chance of the Member’s Cup avoids last place with the win.

Goal Breakdown: Atlas FC 9-7-19

My wife and I work at a local farm helping out with weddings and unfortunately we had agreed to work a wedding the day of the Atlas match. Twatching one of the biggest wins in City history while also dealing with a bunch of drunk people was definitely not how I wanted to spend my Saturday. What this means however is that I got to do a full watch of the match at my computer and take a lot more detailed notes. I really hope that you are ready for a wall of text and videos and let me know if you prefer the short posts or these more detailed ones.

The TL;DR version. City held their own against a really good team through good individual and team play and were able to take advantage of chances that they created.

DCFC 1 ATLAS 0 3′ G: Ryan Peterson A: Richard Bryan

Opening minutes of the match and Atlas FC and Detroit City FC are feeling each other out. After some initial pin ball Tendai Jirira gains possession and plays it across to Cyrus Saydee. Saydee takes a couple dribbles and plays the ball to Bakie Goodman.

Goodman plays the ball up the field but quickly realizes he won’t get very far and is able to get the ball back to Jirira who in turn plays it to Cyrus and then back to Stephen Carroll to reset the attack.

Saydee really seems to be the focus of City’s initial game plan and his pass up the wing to an open Richard Bryan provides good context for why.

Bryan dribbles the ball towards the center of the field and plays the short pass to Ryan Peterson. Peterson gets a toe on the ball and immediately turns and fires. It looks like the keeper gets a late read on the ball due to his defenders positioning and the shot beats him to the near post to shock the visitors an put City up 1-0.

Defensive Effort and Atlas Control

After this first goal Atlas begin to control the ball and start trying to work for a goal. The City back line played absolutely incredible in this game and kept the ball in between themselves and the goal. Carroll and Jalen Crisler both won almost every 1 on 1 battle and didn’t let Atlas get an easy shot off.

Crisler dribbles up the field but is caught from behind and has the ball poked out. Atlas look to have a break and Crisler is left trying to get back into position.

James Vaughan comes out to challenge the ball and City is able to get numbers back to cover the Atlas attack.

Atlas maintain control of the ball and passes it around until they are able to create a nice little one two play getting him behind Vaughan.

Vaughan does well to recover and City is able to swarm the ball and force a clearance. This really is the theme of the first half, Atlas really controlled possession but were constantly surrounded by City players and not able to generate any great chances.

A little while later Atlas are still controlling the ball. The Atlas player pass the ball to the middle of the field and begins what looks like a one two pass. However the central player plays it off the side of his foot who in turn makes the connecting pass back to the original player making his run. Vaughan does well to recognize the play and is able to recover and get his boot on the ball and towards the City keeper.

DCFC 1 ATLAS 1 18′ G: Facundo Barcelo

Ball is played back to the Atlas keeper who plays it to his one center back and Atlas is really beginning to push players forward.

The most impressive thing I saw watching this match is Atlas’ accuracy on long passing. In 3 passes they are able to go from the top of the penalty box to inside City’s half, then a perfect ball over the head of Jirira to the right outside corner of the penalty box.

The Atlas player drives the ball across the box to a waiting attacker who chests the ball and gets in a juggling match with Bryan. The Atlas player does a great job getting his boot to the ball around Bryan and the to foot of an unmarked Facundo Barcelo who redirects the ball into the back of the net tying the game at 1 a piece.

DCFC Counters and Chances for Atlas

While City did not dominate the time of possession they were still able to create some really good chances by taking advantage of quick restarts and quick one touch passing. Nate Steinwascher quickly restarts on a goal kick up to Bryan. Bryan passes up to Saydee who one touches it to Peterson.

Peterson plays the ball to Yazeed Matthews who lays it off for Bryan making a long run up the side line. Matthews defender lays off him to help cover Bryan. Bryan plays the one two back to Matthews who may have been able to get a shot on goal if he was able to strike it on the first touch but the defender is able to stay in front of him and block the shot. That one two between Matthews and Bryan is a great play to get someone free in the box.

The passing for Atlas again creates a chance for Atlas. Carroll is chipped by a nifty pass that leads to an Atlas player in a dangerous position in the box and some breathing room as Carroll works to recover.

Crisler does well to position himself in front of the attacking player and forces the him to play it back to the top of the box. At this point City have been able to recover and get numbers back. Atlas takes a shot but both Vaughan and Diego Casielles are there to block it and City clears the resulting deflection to relieve the pressure.

The ball may take a deflection off Casielles’ arm but it feels like a good no call.

Long ball on a counter leaves Crisler one on one with his man. Crisler does a good staying in position and not getting too aggressive. The Atlas player looks to possibly either play the ball to the attacker on the far side of the field or shoot but it ends up hitting his team-mate creating an awkward situation for City.

Crisler and Carroll both dive in front of the shot and allow City to recover.

Crisler and Carroll both putting their body on the line to prevent the shot on goal.

I am including this because it is a great save by Steinwascher to direct the ball over the net on what looks like would be a goal.

Halftime

In addition to clipping plays I also kept track of time of possession for the game. The first half saw Atlas dominate the ball but a lot of it was passing around the back and trying to find a way towards goal. City seemed content to let them play this way and push for quick counters to punish how aggressive Atlas was getting with their positioning.

1st HalfAtlas FCDCFC
 62.1%37.9%

DCFC 2 ATLAS 1 58′ G: Yazeed Matthews A: Ryan Peterson

Play begins again from Steninwascher in the back up to Crisler. Crisler plays it up to Vaughan who one touches it to Bryan. Bryan then plays the ball up the touch line to Ryan Peterson.

Peterson plays the ball up the side and then plays a ball into the box for Casielles. I am not sure if he gets a piece of it but it looks like Casielles lets the ball go between his legs and it bounces right in front of Matthews. Matthews takes the shot off the volley and beats the recovering goal keeper to the far side of the net. City is now up 2 to 1 on a Liga MX club and just has to hold on to notch the biggest win in club history in their belt.

Continued High Level Play

This next segment has it all, good defensive play from Crisler, some nifty moves from Jirira, and more high level play from everyone else. Crisler is able to intercept a dangerous pass and win the ball. Jirira then makes a great dummy turn and lines up a pass Goodman.

The ball is then played around the back and City maintain possession while Atlas works hard to regain the ball.

Goodman receives a pass and gives his man a nice little move to get around him and the field opens up. The ball is played up to Jirira who crosses the ball to Matthews. The ball just has a little too much pace and Matthews diving attempt on goal goes a little wide. City very much are showing that they are not content sitting back and letting play come to them, they are still creating chances and putting pressure on Atlas.

A long ball is able to find an Atlas attacker streaking in between Carroll and Crisler. Both players do well to get back into a good defensive position and Carroll is able to get in and win the ball back.

I am turning into the biggest fan of Ryan Peterson. He has a ton of speed and has created a lot of opportunities for City since joining the club. Also there are a couple times a game where he is able to chase down a back pass and get in the keepers face and make things uncomfortable for them. In previous games this has led to poor passing and getting the ball back for City. I am willing to bet that he will manage to score a goal from either deflecting a keeper clearance or straight up taking the ball before the season is out.

Atlas is again able to create a chance through some nice passing and Carroll is left stranded trying to defend two possible players. After the pass he immediately takes off and make a great diving tackle to deflect the ball out of bounds. Armando Quezeda may have had a play on the ball but the tackle from Carroll eliminated the chance and prevented the attacker being one on one with the keeper.

At this point Atlas really began pushing for a goal and taking more chances with their passing. City were doing well to limit the opportunities and breaking up the attack.

A throw in for Atlas leads to a pick and intentional high shoulder on Casielles who is left catching up to the ball. He tracks down the attacker and gets close to the attacker and sticks out his leg to slow up the game and let City reset and also possibly blow off some steam after that shoulder check. The Atlas player immediately jumps up and swings on him. The only reason I can think that the Atlas player wasn’t shown a red was because he didn’t connect on his swing.

FINAL: DCFC 2 ATLAS FC 1

City never seemed over matched in this game and went toe to toe with a starting lineup earning close to $14m. If City can continue this level of play over the remainder of the Members Cup I don’t see a reason why they couldn’t win the whole thing. While Atlas continued to maintain control of possession in the second half it wasn’t as lopsided as the first. This probably had more to do with Atlas pushing the ball and making riskier passes than anything else but City were able to keep them off the ball and limit their chances.

This write up took a significant amount of work. Depending on the games I may do this length in the future but would appreciate some feedback on what you would prefer to see from these recaps in the future.

2nd HalfAtlas FCDCFC
 53.0%47.0%
GameAtlas FCDCFC
 57.6%42.4%

Goal Breakdown: Philly Fury 8-31-19

There were not a lot of goals in this one to break down so this is going to be a pretty short post. City really seemed to control the game and generated a lot of chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. Being back at Keyworth means the game is on YouTube and so much easier for me to clip goals. Header image from Micheal Kitchen.

DCFC 1 PF 0 63′ (PK) G: Ryan Peterson

I am going to begin this lead up to a goal a little early so I can cover the sequence. Stephen Carroll is a little too light on his touch allowing the Fury player to take control of the ball. Victor Fragola does well to challenge for the ball and slow up the attack. James Vaughn is a little slow getting back which frees up his man. Carroll does well to position himself to cover the three players threatening the middle of the field.

Good positioning from Carroll to be able to react to wherever the ball goes.

A heavy touch from the Fury player causes the ball to go wide and Carroll does well to position himself between the player and the goal. The Fury player is really left with only one option to try and play the ball across the middle and the City keeper Armando Quezeda is able to collect the ball.

City then proceeds to play the ball around in the back looking to find an opening. Eventually some room is found by Richard Bryan and he plays it up the pitch. The Fury put very little pressure on Bryan giving him lots of time to find some where to go with the ball.

Bryan plays the through ball into the box for Ryan Peterson to run down. The keeper decides a little late to come out and play the ball allowing Peterson to use his speed to beat him to the ball. The keepers momentum carries him into Peterson causing a foul and a penalty kick is awarded.

A clip of just the foul
Fuck this guy.

Peterson lines up over the ball and drives it to the left of the goal. Goalie guesses the wrong direction and Peterson puts City up 1-0.

Different angle

DCFC 1 PF 0 69′ (PK) S: Armando Quezeda

Long ball from the Fury from the back is played up into the box which Tendai Jirira has position on. Jirira shields the ball from the attacker who attempts to play the ball around his body and Jirira goes down from the challenge. I think he believes he was fouled so he reaches out and grabs the ball, however no foul was called on the Fury player resulting in a hand ball inside the box which awards a penalty kick to the Fury.

The Fury player drives the ball to the center of the net and Quezeda is able to react and stop his dive to his left and blocks the shot. The ball is still in play after the deflection and Quezeda is able to get his foot on the follow up attempt from the penalty taker sending the ball over the top of the net. He immediately pops up and begins directing the defense to cover the upcoming corner. City is able to maintain their lead for the remainder of the match and hold on to win 1-0.

Goal Breakdown: Napa Valley 1839 8-24-2019

After getting some really positive feedback from my recap of the Chattanooga goals I am going to keep doing these posts. MyCujoo is not as easy to use for creating gifs and I had to screen cap off my phone so let me apologize for any quality issues right off the bat. Additionally I have noticed that the clock on the score overlay is broken so I used the times posted by the DCFC twitter account for goals.

This game was very one sided and City was far and away the better team but I still think there is something we can learn from these goals. The theme that I am noticing is that City is pushing hard to create chances with through balls and is really aggressive with their runs. Whether this is going to be the strategy going forward or just taking advantage of something the coaches saw in film on these two teams they are generating a ton of chances and are taking advantage of the skill of their players.

NAPA 0 DCFC 1 10′ G: Yazeed Matthews A: Cyrus Saydee

City has been pressuring the ball hard and Napa has to pass back to the keeper who has very little time to clear the ball out of bounds due to a charging Ryan Peterson.

It honestly looks like Napa does not have enough players back to properly mark each of City’s players which makes it easy for Marcello Borges to find Cyrus Saydee with the throw in.

Cyrus is unmarked and has a lot of space around the 15 yard line

#2 for Napa gives up the center of the field to Yazeed Matthews who makes a run towards goal. Cyrus simply puts the ball at Matthews feet who is able to fend off the pressure from the inside and possibly nutmeg the keeper for his first goal for City and make it Napa 0 DCFC 1.

#2 is way out of position and the other defender has to abandon marking Danny to try and recover.

NAPA 0 DCFC 2 15′ G: Danny Deakin A: Ryan Peterson

Some pressure for Napa causes City to clear the ball long out of the back. Napa is able to control but Peterson again applies some pressure to the keeper who plays the ball to his left.

I don’t know if it is because he is rushed or simply does not see him but the ball goes directly to Bakie Goodman who plays it up to Matthews. Matthews one touches it to Peterson due to some pressure and a late tackle which results in the ref playing the advantage. Both Napa defenders converge on Peterson due to his dangerous position which frees up Danny Deakin. Deakin collects the pass, squares up on goal, and blasts the ball into the far netting to put City up 0-2.

NAPA 0 DCFC 3 17′ G: Yazeed Matthews A: Ryan Peterson

Play begins with a throw deep in City’s half. Borges’ throw goes to Peterson who is challenged for the ball. James Vaughan is able to get to the ball and plays it forward to Tendai Jirira.

Tendai plays it up the right to Peterson who thinks about playing it inside but notices Matthews making a break for the inside at the last second and pokes the ball forward to him. Matthews then shots the ball into the far side of the goal netting his second of the night and making it 0-3.

Watching this live I thought that Matthews was offside on his run but after looking it looks like it was a good no call from the AR who was in a good position to watch the play.

Matthews is even with the back defender as the ball leaves Peterson’s foot. Shout out to the football lines for making their position relative to each other easy to see.

NAPA 0 DCFC 4 21′ (PK) G: Cyrus Saydee

Napa is in control of the ball and is looking to push up the field and City is playing aggressively to get the ball back. A clumsy dribble from #7 for Napa allows Bakie to get a toe on the ball and get it back to Deakin. Deakin plays it right back to Bakie and City immediately turn and run.

Bakie plays the ball up the left to Cyrus who slows play down which allows Bakie to continue his run. Three Napa defenders get caught ball watching and by the time one of them turns their head Bakie is behind him and the player is unable to see him making his run.

Cyrus sees this and plays the through ball to him. The keeper comes off his line in an attempt to play the ball but Bakie plays it slightly outside causing the keeper to make contact and bringing Bakie down in the box for a foul and the ref awards a penalty kick.

Cyrus lines up over the ball and shoots to the right. Keeper guesses wrong and the score is now Napa Valley 1839 0 Detroit City FC 4 which is our final.

City really looked like they took the foot off the gas after this goal but were still able to generate some really good opportunities that just barely didn’t find the back of the net.

Ryan Peterson and Yazeed Matthews both had a great game and are really nice additions to the already established City lineup. Peterson’s speed looked like it gave the Napa defense and keeper some big time issues. Hopefully the players can keep up this level of play through the remainder of the season.

Goal Breakdown: Chattanooga FC 8-17-19

In starting this analysis of goals scored and conceded by Detroit City I want to start by pointing out that I am not a writer nor someone who has any experience talking about soccer. All I am is someone who really likes City in search of more coverage of matches and in true City fashion if you want to see it, do it.

I plan on breaking each goal down into 10 seconds clips and analyzing what happened to lead to each goal. Hopefully some of you find this information useful and find enjoyment from it.

DCFC 1 CFC 0 23’ G: Marcello Borges A: Cyrus Saydee

Throw in for City after a header out of bounds from CFC off a free kick from the keeper. Ball is thrown in to Lawson who is pressured from behind and is able to chip the ball over the three defenders around him to Todd who is unable to retain possession.

CFC begin working up the field but Number 10 for CFC is caught flat footed on a pass and is able to get a toe on the ball bouncing it forward to Tendai who makes an over the shoulder volley, landing in some space for Lawson to control.

Lawson gathers the ball and Cyrus begins making a run up the right side of the pitch, mirrored by Borges on the left. Number 21 for CFC gets caught ball watching in a very deep position and moving towards the ball which allows Lawson to play the ball to Cyrus with tons of space.

Cyrus being very much onside and #21 being way too deep

Cyrus takes a couple dribbles towards the net and pauses to force the keeper to set his feet and then plays it across the goal to a well-positioned Borges who taps the ball into the back of the net to put City ahead 1-0. Both Todd and Lawson were also well behind the defense which is kinda surprising looking at where the defenders were when the play began.

DCFC 2 CFC 0 60’ G: Danny Deakin A: Ryan Peterson

Play resumes with a corner kick for CFC played to the far side of the goal which appears to be played a little too long allowing Crisler to clear the ball with a header. CFC regains possession but a heavy touch causes #25 for CFC to attempt to save the ball from going out of bounds.

Todd fights for the ball along the touch line and kicks it forward to a waiting Peterson who plays it up the touch line. A nice hold on the ball gives Peterson some room to work. Deakin is waiting onside in a really good position for a pass.

#4 for CFC looks to be a bad position, CFC has two players on the ball and no one marking Deakin.

Deakin unmarked and onside. #4 may think he has help behind but #3 is late to the party.

The ball is played into open space for Deakin to run to. He collects, takes a couple dribbles, survive a shove from behind from #3, and then finish by driving the ball through the legs of the keeper making it 2-0 City.

I love watching goal celebrations and #3 sad kicking the ball out of the net is just perfect after that push from behind.

DCFC 2 CFC 1 65’ G: Alun Webb A: Markus Smarzoch

Goal kick for City coming off some pressure from CFC. Steinwascher drives the ball past the midfield line and CFC wins the ball after two successful challenges in the air. A short pass to #25 gets him some space to work.

#25 plays the ball up the right to #7 who has a step on Tendai. Tendai does well to make up the distance but loses the shoulder to shoulder challenge which gives #7 enough time to direct the ball towards the net beating Steinwascher giving us our final. Detroit City FC 2 Chattanooga FC 1.

I hope you enjoyed reading my recap of the goals from this game and if there is interest this may be something that I continue doing.

If you have any suggestions, notice an error, or any other reason want to contact me you can find me on Twitter @frontiere_rob or on the fence at mid field.

Roster Reset: A Look At Who Played in the Friendlies

Detroit City FC has been light on official roster announcements in the time between the end of the NPSL playoffs and the start of the Member’s Cup this Saturday. However, with two friendlies under their belt a picture of who might be Member’s Cup regulars has emerged. Here is a quick overview of who’s still in, who’s new and where they came from, and who will be playing somewhere else this fall.

NPSL Regular Season Regulars Who Are Still Around

Tommy Buono, Stephen Carroll, Jalen Crisler, Danny Deakin, Bakie Goodman, Tendai Jirira, Shawn Lawson, Cyrus Saydee, Max Todd

Almost all of these guys made at least 10 appearances in the NPSL season*, played in one or both friendlies**, and, crucially, do not have any college commitments this fall. I think we can expect the bulk of the Member’s Cup starting XI to come from this group, and many of their roster announcements last spring came with the “full season” tag that at that time indicated they would sign a professional contract.

*Jirira only made 5 appearances, but two were in the playoffs.

**Buono only played against WTFC. The rest played in both.

Other Old Friends

Roddy Green, Nate Steinwascher

Steinwascher seems to be a shoo-in to be our Member’s Cup keeper after playing in both friendlies. Steinwascher made two regular season appearances, but with both Finnerty and Morse in school this fall, City needs a different backstop for the Member’s Cup season and have gone back to someone who has had previous success for the club.

It is harder to tell if Green was a body for a friendly or if he is back for the Member’s Cup season after he only played 27 minutes during the regular season. Green subbed on at 46’ v. WTFC, and did not play v. Indy. Seems that Green could go either way, though it’s possible I missed an official announcement on his status somewhere.

Among guys who played significant NPSL minutes but did not play in the friendlies, I believe that based on college graduation status, Kervin Kenton (who I think was injured), Michael Pimlott, Oscar Gonzalez, and George Chomakov could all technically come back as well.

Who is Definitely Gone

Here are the guys who played significant minutes during the NPSL season who are definitely going back to school:

  • Owen Finnerty, Michigan
  • Moussa Gueye, Eastern Florida State College
  • Hunter Morse, Michigan State
  • Will Perkins, Michigan State

New Faces

There were many people on the friendly rosters that were new to City. While it is still unknown whether or not some were trialists or have been promised spots on the Member’s Cup roster, here’s a little bit of background on each one:

Richard Bryan, D

Bryan started the WTFC match and played the full 90. An English national, Bryan played his college ball at Division II Lander University in South Carolina, where he earned second-team all-conference honors twice, . Landers has played 3 seasons in USL League Two; in 2017 and 2018 he was a regular with Mississippi Brillas, while this summer he made six appearances for the Des Moines Menace.

Marcello Borges, D

This one will be familiar to a certain contingent of the City faithful, as Borges played college soccer for the University of Michigan, where he was second-team all-Big Ten twice. Borges started the WTFC match, playing 60 minutes. Borges is a product of the Red Bulls Academy, and has played with their U-23 squad in USL2, as well as making 3 appearances for the Michigan Bucks. Borges has represented the USA at the U-20 level, though not since 2017. He was drafted by the Colorado Rapids this spring, but was not signed, and does not appear to have played anywhere this summer.

Diego Casielles, M

Spanish national Casielles went 90 v. WTFC before coming on for the closing 8 minutes against Indy. He played for Fairfield College, in the Division 1 MAAC. He was all-conference with 5 goals his senior year, and played in an NCAA Tournament loss to New Hampshire his junior year. As far as I can tell he has never played summer league soccer.

Marlon Evans, M

Marlon Evans played 72 minutes v. WTFC and 45 v. Indy, starting both matches. Marlon Evans has received call-ups for the Guam national team, playing in the opening leg of their recent World Cup Qualifying victory over Bhutan (they lost his leg 1-0, but won the second 5-0). Evans played for NIAA North Greenville University in South Carolina, playing 13 matches his senior year with a goal and an assist. Wikipedia says he played for a team called Wings FC in the Guam Men’s Soccer League, but I think that’s an academy team.

Evans Frimpong, F

Evans Frimpong is a true journeyman. The Ghanaian national has played all around the world, with his most recent stop being at Jarota Jarocin in the Polish fourth division, having transferred from Bahrain. His most successful stints were at the beginning of his career, where he made 69 appearances for the then-NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies, where he won the Soccer Bowl before bouncing around the NASL a bit. I am very interested to see how he plays this fall. He played in both friendlies, coming on for the second half v. WTFC and the final 30 minutes v. Indy.

Esmail Haidan, GK

Esmail Haidan is a recent Hamtramck High School graduate who almost certainly was just an emergency keeper for the friendlies, though they did get him into the end of the WTFC friendly. Cool moment for the kid I’m sure, but I imagine he is unlikely to feature this fall. He made six appearances for Schoolcraft last fall, but they have not posted an updated roster. I don’t know how Junior College eligibility works, maybe he’ll keep being our emergency keeper.

Stephen Kosmala, D

Stephen Kosmala is an English national who played the second half v. WTFC, and the final 18 minutes v. Indy. He played college soccer at Division II Barry University in Florida, where he helped lead them to the D2 National Championship in his senior year (a run which included a win over Richard Bryan’s Lander squad). Kosmala made seven appearances this summer for USL2’s Des Moines Menace.

Yazeed Matthews, F

Matthews played the final 18 minutes v. Indy, though his previous trip to Keyworth was on the other bench. Yes, Matthews’ immediate previous team is AFC Ann Arbor, where he played this summer. Did he score? I don’t know, the AFCAA website doesn’t have any stats. He played 90 minutes in the DCFC@AFCAA game, and was previously subbed off after 65 in the Detroit leg. Matthews played college soccer with Tyrone Mondi at Coastal Carolina, where he scored 13 goals and was named All-Sun Belt his senior season.

Ryan Peterson, F

Peterson played the first half v. WTFC, and the final 18 minutes v. Indy. There’s a lot of guys that show up when you search “Ryan Peterson soccer,” but this one has a Twitter account with Keyworth as his header pic, so I am confident it is this one. Peterson played college soccer for Rutgers, scoring 4 goals his senior season in 2017. He spend 2018 with USL2’s AC Connecticut, where he made 13 appearances. This summer he was elsewhere in the NPSL, playing for FC Motown, in Morristown, NJ. You know, the other Motown.

James Vaughn, M

James Vaughn is another guy who played for AFCAA, and was their team MVP in 2017. The English national played his college soccer for Division II Northwoods University, being one of their primary starters all four years. James made 4 appearances for the Michigan Bucks last summer, though does not appear to have been on this summer’s Flint City Championship squad. We’re buried in this article so I’m just gonna take this opportunity to say, you know, I’m pretty much cool with Flint City Bucks at this point. It looks like after making the move to Flint they actually started trying to be a real club, and I think that’s good. Anyways, I can’t find anything suggesting he played anywhere this summer. Also there’s a bunch of other guys named James Vaughn but I’m fairly sure it’s this one.

A Quick Disclaimer Before I Go

The state of searching for information on lower league soccer is somewhat fraught. I’m fairly certain something I said here is straight up wrong, or I got the wrong guy, or whatever. If that happened, let me know, but please be nice about it.

What the Hell is Going On: A Summary

Chances are you’re one of two types of City fans: someone who has gotten a text from a friend saying “I’ve seen a lot of stuff on twitter, can you explain it to me?” or the person who has sent that text. If you’re the sender, this post is for you. If you’re the receiver: here. Now you don’t have to type the same paragraph again.

For those of us who follow City, the 2019 season has had some amazing highs. But lurking in the background was always the sense that the team’s future plans might not work out in quite the way the fans wanted it to. We knew that we were supposed to participate in the Founder’s Cup later this season, but the western teams were peeling away, and the continued existence of the competition into 2020 seemed uncertain.

Yesterday, the schedule came down from the DCFC website, people noticed that DCFC was no longer on the Founder’s Cup website, and a rumor that DCFC had lined up a major investor was going around. The alphabet soup of the PLS and NISA lit up the lower-league soccer tweetosphere. The most extreme panic subsided pretty quickly, as the NPSL re-announced itself as the “Member’s Cup” (you can’t call it the Founders Cup if it doesn’t end with you founding anything I guess), and City’s fall schedule was settled.

So the questions are: why did this happen, and where do we go from here?

Lower League Soccer and the PLS

While the US doesn’t have a formal pyramid system like most other footballing nations, it does divide its leagues into divisions. The standards for Divisions 1, 2, and 3 are set by US Soccer through a document called the Professional League Standards. This is the PLS you might have heard about. Leagues apply for sanctioning within the division they want, and strictly speaking there is no limit to how many leagues can be in each division. Every team in a league must meet the requirements for that division, though USSF has sometimes granted waivers for things like stadium size when they receive assurances that teams are working on it. Right now, there is one league in each of the top divisions. MLS occupies Division 1. The USL Championship is Division 2, and USL League One is Division 3.

Below that, things get very fuzzy. Technically, there are no divisions below 3. However, many people who follow American soccer refer to the NPSL and USL League Two as Division 4, and the UPSL as Division 5. Divisions 5 and 6 are also dotted with various regional and local leagues. The NPSL, UPSL, and anything smaller than that get their sanctioning from the US Adult Soccer Association, while USL League Two gets sanctioning from the USL itself. (Thank you to anyone who pointed out the original version of this paragraph wasn’t quite right.)

In order for DCFC to expand their footprint, they have to move to a pro league. This much is clear. But they are hamstrung by the PLS, which specifically dictate they need to have an owner with at least a 35% stake whose personal assets are at least $10 million, not including property and their team stake. I differ from many DCFC fans in that I think the PLS having a clause like this isn’t by itself bad. Lower league teams start and fail all the time, and putting up some barriers to entry is good for the overall health of the leagues they are joining. But, the hard rule doesn’t allow for any creativity.

Could the PLS be updated so that the “financial viability” portion can be either the net worth of an owner OR proof of previous club revenue? Could there be a system where D3 teams are just allowed to fall short on one of the PLS criteria? I don’t know, I’m just spitballing, but clearly the PLS is holding back DCFC specifically, and it’d be good if there was a place in the system for clubs with alternative, viable business models to being owned by a rich guy.

The other issue is the close relationship between the various USLs and MLS. Both USL Championship and League One host MLS reserve sides, or sides with roster control agreements with MLS clubs. While many independent teams in both leagues have robust fan bases and cool club cultures, the reserve sides typically don’t have their own fan bases, have players that are indifferent to the league standings, and exist to prop up a league that many DCFC supporters are philosophically against. If you want to own a lower league soccer team, but you don’t want MLS to be involved, there is no where to go, and if you’re a D3 club your predicament is made worse by the rumors that all MLS2 clubs will soon be pushed into USL League One.

So DCFC doesn’t meet the PLS, and doesn’t want to participate in a league populated by MLS reserve sides. The Founders Cup was an attempt to kill two birds with one stone.

The Founders, er, Members Cup

Earlier this year, it was announced that DCFC was one of 11 teams participating in the Founder’s Cup, a fall competition that would eventually lead to a professional league operated by NPSL, starting in 2020. This was exciting, as it created a path for some of the more ambitious NPSL teams to play longer schedules while paying their players. The goal was to establish a fully professional league, get sanctioning through USASA (or something), and skirt the PLS, providing a place for clubs with a different vision.

Slowly but surely, the Founders Cup fell apart. The western teams pulled out one by one. Oakland Roots officially joined NISA (I promise we’ll get to NISA), as did Cal United Strikers FC . Rumors swirled that nothing was guaranteed beyond the Founders Cup in the fall, and that most of the teams were looking to jump somewhere else for 2020. The dream of DCFC playing in an “NPSLPro” seemed to be dwindling by the day. The last straw appeared to be Miami FC officially joining NISA.

Finally, yesterday the Founders Cup rebranded as the Members Cup, with only one western team and the Michigan Stars for some reason. The bright side is it guarantees us matches in the fall. Supporters bought season tickets with the promise of a second, fully professional fall competition, and players (and TMFJ) signed up with that as the vision. The negative is that it put the future entirely up in the air.

What happens to NPSLPro now? No one knows. There are persistent rumors that there will be some sort of long-season division of NPSL, either an annual Member’s Cup-type competition or a full conference of teams playing a longer schedule. But the big rumor that accompanied the Member’s Cup announcement, is that set to join NISA was not only Miami FC, but Chattanooga FC and the Detroit City Football Club.

The National Independent Soccer Association

NISA first was announced in 2017, the new project of long-time soccer executive Peter Wilt. The long term goal included pro/rel, maybe including the NASL (which shut down a short time after). On and off announcements punctuated by long periods of radio silence got us to earlier this year, when current commissioner John Prutch took over, and NISA received sanctioning as a Division 3 league. This was a critical step in launching a fully pro league, and assurance that despite all the struggles in getting started, they could at least make it work on paper. A handful of Founders Cup teams were poached, new teams were announced, and a fall start date was set.

Finally, today a schedule for the NISA Showcase, a competition not unlike the Members Cup, was announced, as well as 8 initial participants. Other clubs have already been announced for 2020’s full league, with rumors of more joining over the offseason. Notably, the NISA Showcase features exhibitions against both Chattanooga and DCFC, both rumored to be joining the league in the 2020.

NISA fills an important hole in the American lower leagues: This is where you play if you want to be a pro league but don’t want to play MLS reserve sides, where you don’t want the away portion of your gate to prop up MLS. It’s an attempt at establishing a league that is truly independent from anything that has been established before. And because it has sanctioning, teams will get automatic Open Cup berths, and get to test their mettle against the other leagues.

One hitch: DCFC still doesn’t meet the PLS, due to the ownership net worth clause. The rumor is that at long last, DCFC has found an investor that meets the criteria. So the question is, is that good?

The answer to that likely remains to be seen. Without knowing who the investor is, it’s hard to know what the impact on our club’s culture will be. With that said, I trust the ownership to only bring on partners that believe in the vision of this club. More concerning for me is that we really don’t know what we’re getting with NISA, and while on paper the league is viable, its history of on-again-off-again… existence is troubling. Hopefully, new leadership, and the anchor of a couple established clubs, are able to give it the stable footing it needs to have time to build something special.

The presence of DCFC and Chattanooga on NISA’s fall schedule, even as exhibitions, indicate to me that this is happening. Detroit City Football Club will likely be putting a professional team in NISA, and possibly maintaining its NPSL franchise to use as a non-pro reserve side. This is going to be an exciting and maybe nerve-wracking time to be a DCFC fan, with a lot of change and uncertainty and hopefully some of our favorites coming back for a full season as professional players.

For us, whether its the Members Cup or NPSLPro or NISA or whatever comes after that the refrain is the same: See you at Keyworth.

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