July 7, 2017 – AFC Ann Arbor (Part I)

July 7, 2017
NPSL Regular Season
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI

Match suspended at the 4:51 mark

On May 21st, City went into Ann Arbor after the first two matches of the season, where leads were blown and points lost due to draws to the Milwaukee Torrent and Michigan Stars.  The cloudy afternoon brought not only rain upon Hollway Field during halftime, but on the outlook of the team’s season.  AFC Ann Arbor’s Dario Suarez fired two goals against Le Rouge, and no one answered back.

The following weekend was an early break in the season for Le Rouge for the much-anticipated international friendly with Glentoran FC.  It was the 50th anniversary of the Glentoran team that crossed the Atlantic from Belfast to play as the Detroit Cougars. Spirits were lifted in acknowledging Detroit’s soccer past and in entertaining our Irish guests.  The clouds of gloom dissipated.

One month and eight NPSL matches later, Detroit City FC sat two points behind first place AFC Ann Arbor. City had not suffered a loss the entire month of June, including the traditional friendly against the Columbus Crew SC College Program in which Le Rouge had never defeated.  Supporters and teammates were glistening like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

For one week, the momentum of the past month leading to this night, magnified.  The anticipation of this huge match against a hated opponent was tangible.

AFC Ann Arbor – 9 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss, 1st place.
Detroit City FC – 8 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss, 2nd place.

And let’s be clear about that team in Ann Arbor…

Dark clouds came rolling in from the east, forming and following the Northern Guard Supporters as they marched from the Fowling Warehouse.

It was there.  The emotional electricity of revenge.  Like a heavy-weight fighter knowing one more punch would put down his opponent, we felt ourselves in that drawn back fist, ready to deliver the final blow.

After the water balloons were tossed, and the smoke filled the air, the match began.

It ended four-minutes-fifty-one seconds later.

The heavens opened. Rain pelted the pitch with ferocity.  With the match placed on hold, we refused to release this moment.  Smoke tried to blanket the field, but still, the rain fell.

The teams left the field, and many left the stands in search of shelter.  But not us.  We’ve been building and waiting for this moment.  And we stayed.  And sang.

When the chants and songs would not relent, the clouds gave way, reducing the rain’s intensity to a light mist in comparison.

But the pitch couldn’t take it.  Saturated by the soccer gods, the field could not absorb the onslaught, and the steady drizzle that followed made draining an impossibility.

It was about an hour after the match had been paused that the officials abandoned game on account of player safety.  Tuesday, July 11th was announced as the rescheduled date.

Co-owner Alex Wright, on the eve of his wedding, took his bride-to-be out to the middle of the pitch, in a demonstration that it was safe to dance.

Rescheduled to a Tuesday night was a frustrating conclusion to the evening.  Why did the soccer gods attempt to drown our momentum and postpone our clash against AFC Ann Arbor?


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