May 16, 2018
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Gettler Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
FC Cincinnati 4, Detroit City FC 1
DCFC Shawn Lawson (Danny Deakin) 31′
FCC Emery Welshman (Forrest Lasso, Daniel Haber) 35′
FCC Corben Bone (Emery Welshman) 94′
FCC Emery Welshman 99′
FCC Emery Welshman (Jimmy McLaughlin) 110′
Attendance: 2,250 (described as “sold out”)
My 100th Detroit City FC match.
I’m going to do a little ranting in this one.
-USL franchise coveting a move into the MLS through expansion, in competition with the Gilbert-Gores MLS bid in Detroit.
-A collection of 25,000+ people who show up, bowing before billionaire owner, Carl Linder III, when the team made their first appearance in the USL in 2016.
Detroit City FC visited Cincinnati twice (2014 and 2015) against the Cincinnati Saints NPSL team, where these “fans” could have built their club.
Last year (2017), FC Cincinnati had a remarkable run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, making it all the way to the semi-final round, and came 70 minutes away from making it to the finals. They took a 2-0 lead into the locker room against the New York Red Bulls, however they lost the match in extra-time, 3-2. You’d think the ‘sports professional’ minds at FC Cincinnati would anticipate that their fans would be eager for the 2018 version of the competition. Instead of hosting us at their stadium, like they did against AFC Cleveland before a crowd of 12,790 in the second round of 2017, they downsized our match to a field smaller than Detroit Cass Tech High School (where we played from 2012-2015, pushing the 3,000+ high school field to its limits) and awarded Detroit City FC only 50 tickets to disperse among family and supporters. The remaining seats were sold out the week prior to the match. The team needed 22 tickets, leaving 28 for traveling Northern Guard Supporters.
I was fortunate. I contacted the team for a media pass. The email I received in response read as follows:
Normally we only allow accredited media on to the field with game day credentials, but given the situation at Gettler Stadium, we’ll make the exception for you and one other. I’ll shoot a note out on Monday with the parking and credential pick-up information.
The other media pass went to Miko (check out his YouTube page for awesome vids of DCFC matches) I’m glad I didn’t have to use a ticket so that another Rouge Rover could. But what is ‘accredited media’ these days? I know , back in the late 1990’s, when I shot for Great Lakes Hockey Alliance, ‘accredited media’ meant a hard-copy media source, like a newspaper or sports publication. Today’s media is broader than that isn’t it?
Or is this just another barrier created by ‘professional’ sports teams.
I’ve digressed. Onward.
After checking into the hotel, I went to find the tavern the Rouge Rovers laid claim to, guiding my sister and her family (northern Kentucky residents) to meet pre-game. They arrived before me and took a table as far away from the Rouge Rovers as possible. That’s okay. I noticed a digital jukebox, dropped a few quarters, and a selected “500 Miles” and “I Just Can’t Get Enough,” which treated my family and other natives to a loud chorus from the fine voices of the Rouge Rovers when they heard the tunes.
Heh heh heh.
Below, you’ll see the fine accommodations FC Cincinnati provided their fans for a U.S. Open Cup match after last season’s huge success. Does this mean they’re clueless? Does this mean they don’t know ‘their fans?’ Does this mean that this is the percentage of ‘die hard’ fans that FC Cincinnati know they have? Or were they simply afraid of the Northern Guard Supporters?
Fans sit. Supporters stand.
In the 31st minute, City takes the lead on a beautiful bit of precision passing along the left side, with Danny Deakin delivering the ball to Shawn Lawson who puts it into the net. There’s a good video of the goal at Detroit City FC’s Facebook Page HERE.
Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived as the USL team scored in the 35th minute.
At the end of 90 minutes, the score remained even.
Let me repeat that. On their home turf, the professional, MLS-wannabes played 90 minutes against a fourth-tier group of unpaid, mostly college players, and could not beat them.
In the thirty-minutes of added time, the USL team scored three goals to win the match. Would it have been nice to beat this team? Of course it would have. But we’re Detroit City FC. We didn’t roll over, and we gave them a game.
Thirteen days after our visit, MLS granted them what they wanted. Another American city whose citizens and supporters are deserving of the screwing they will receive by MLS and its billionaire share-holders. [Note (May 16, 2022): The first three seasons of their jump to MLS, FC Cincinnati, have accumulated a record of 14 wins, 59 losses, and 18 draws. Back at the time, it was often heard that Cincinnati fans would rather lose in MLS than win in USL. The last three years must have been great joy for their fans.]
Some people find sports to be a form of entertainment, like attending a movie, a concert, or a play. These folks tend to be labeled bandwagon or fair-weather fans because they only show interest when the team is winning (just like they only show up at the theater, the concert hall, or the stage for the performances they want to see). They also tend to see that sports is a business and nothing more than that.
Some people find more meaning in sports. They go to many home games, watch many road games on television, and wear the colors of their team or the jerseys of their favorite players. They may even build a network of friends to be with during these games. With them, there is the acceptance of a barrier between them and the team itself. The team provides and the fan consumes, and never the twain shall meet. They don’t mind if the team imposes heavy tax breaks on the city which burdens its citizens and fattens the wallets of the owners because they tend live outside the city.
But then there are supporters. These are the folks who not only attend the matches, but create the experience. It’s a blending between team and fan which create a club. A family. Not only rooted to each other, but to the community as well.
I grew up watching hockey and being a hockey fan (and unconsciously tried to create a supporter culture with an OHL team which failed because the team general manager shunned booster clubs). I have defined my relationship to sports teams in each of these definitions during different stages of my life. I believe that the supporter culture, which is more people-oriented versus profit-oriented; more inclusive than exclusive, produces the right environment for me, and a better approach for the community. Everyone has a place (bandwagon fan, team fan, supporter) and anyone can find their place and contribute the skills and passion they have and want to provide to the club and supporter group, as a whole. And the barrier between club and supporter is very thin.
Detroit City FC and the Northern Guard Supporters are creating a new paradigm. Seven years of success. $750,000 to repair Keyworth Stadium raised from supporters, not extorted from taxpayers.
There’s no right or wrong way to be a supporter of Detroit City FC. We welcome all. But if you’ve followed traditional professional American sports, you will find being a Detroit City FC supporter is something very unique and special.
This being my 100th match, I can testify to that.
CITY TIL I DIE!