The “Voice of Le Rouge” Neal Ruhl sits down with Nathan Steinwascher and Danny Deakin to discuss Members Cup play and also their path to DCFC! Both players share their stories in the professional ranks and the roads they have taken! Brought to you by REALTEAM Real Estate and Range Lending, the official Real Estate providers of Detroit City FC! www.mirealteam.com/dcfc Source
DCFC Chief Executive Officer/Co-Owner Sean Mann sits down with the play-by-play Voice of Detroit City FC Neal Ruhl at the City Clubhouse to discuss the big announcement of Detroit City adding a women’s team for next season! #CityRadio is brought to you by Real Team Real Estate and Range Lending! The Official Real Estate Providers for Detroit City FC! www.mirealteam.com/dcfcSource
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo Credit: Dan Garnell
Photo Credit: Screenshot of Detroit City FC Season 2 Post Match Video