Ep. 6 #CityRadio Detroit City FC Podcast

 

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

Ep. 5 #CityRadio Podcast

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/dcfc Source

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.

Continue reading “Goal Breakdown: Atlas FC 9-7-19”

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.

Continue reading “Goal Breakdown: Napa Valley 1839 8-24-2019”

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.

Continue reading “Goal Breakdown: Chattanooga FC 8-17-19”

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

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.