A drive to the capital city takes less than an hour and a half from Cass Technical High School, but the winner of Sunday’s matchup between Detroit City FC and Lansing United will earn bragging rights for a much, much longer time.
The competitive spirit has trickled into the realm of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), where this weekend, on Sunday, June 28, the two best teams in the Midwest Region, and in-state clubs, go head-to-head for the second time this year.
The match holds the highest stakes, with the battle for first place in the standings on the line. With five wins and a pair of draws, both teams bear 17 points, sitting evenly above the rest of the Midwest.
In their last meeting, despite a splendid strike from City midfielder Dave Edwardson’s (Heddon F.C., Eng.), Lansing overpowered Le Rouge, en route to a 3-1 victory. This time, at home, the DCFC wants revenge, and the team is determined to get it.
“We’ll be playing Lansing for first place,” said DCFC forward Tyler Channell (Saginaw Valley State). “We want to get revenge from the last game.”
And the last time City lost in the regular season, it was that defeat to Lansing. For three straight weeks on the road afterwards, Le Rouge held their ground, tying the Minnesota United Reserves and triumphing over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Sunday is the perfect match, because the teams are familiar with each other, beyond just the earlier meeting.
Lansing and City draw from the same talent pool of Michigan soccer. Two rosters jam-packed with players from Oakland University, Saginaw Valley State and Michigan State pit many current and former teammates against one another. It’s an ideal contest, one that the Spartans, Grizzlies and Cardinals can tauntingly remind their teammates of upon returning to school in late August.
Revenge and bragging rights aside, if nothing else, Sunday is about taking first place. It’s about the chance to give Cass Tech the match of a season, after three long weeks of waiting for an NPSL opponent at home. And it’s finally happening.
When DCFC and United kickoff at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, chaos and eruption are sure to follow.
“It’s going to be the biggest game of the year,” Channell said. “And it’s our biggest rivalry, and we want to be playing at home.”
This is a must-win match, an imperative three points.
This is the time of year when Le Rouge’s veterans take the reigns, when new additions ignite a flare, and when unsung heroes mark their names in Detroit City FC history. This is the beginning of the final stretch.
And a battle for first place at Cass Tech is where it all begins.
– Ted Janes / DCFC Staff Writer