Team USA may be out of the World Cup but football/soccer is going strong in Detroit. Detroit City Football Club (DCFC) is a minor league team playing its third season at Cass Technical High School in Midtown Detroit and this weekend we went to our first (but not our last) game.
Yesterday’s game was the first football/soccer game I’ve ever watched and I really enjoyed it. I definitely don’t know all the rules but I know when a goal is made and ‘Le Rouge’ made 2 (and nearly a couple more) to shut out Cincinnati. The game itself was exciting but the environment was even better.
I discovered DCFC last year when I drove passed Cass Tech and saw the streets lined with cars and the bleachers filled with people – not a typical sight in the summer. I was immediately intrigued and put a football/soccer game on my to-do list for 2014. The crowd I saw last year was as spirited as the one I witnessed yesterday. I was seriously impressed by the number of people sporting DCFC/Le Rouge gear and wished I’d had thought to wear team colors. The DCFC Spirit section is sure to rival any in the country. For 90 minutes fans cheered, chanted and jeered the competition, making for lively entertainment.
Since I know virtually nothing about soccer or the league I sought out the General Manager, Donovan Powell, for more information about the organization.
DCFC is increasingly popular in the city, how many people attend the games?
We average anywhere between 2,500-3,500 fans.
Why do you think soccer has taken root in Detroit? Are there other minor league teams in Michigan?
There are other minor league teams. They don’t quite have the crowd support that we have.
How has the World Cup affected turn-out or attention?
I don’t really think it’s had much effect. To be honest we’ve been building at this for years and it’s been a gradual increase. I think the World Cup has garnered a lot more interest in soccer but our fans have been supporting soccer for years here in the city. So in terms of increased attendance I don’t think we saw much of a correlation but, in general interest in soccer in the city, I think there was an uptick.
How does DCFC reach out to the community? I heard Detroit PAL mentioned on the announcements, do you guys have a partnership?
We work closely with Detroit PAL. We run youth clinics for them. We do charitable work for them as well. It’s a strong mission of ours to grow the base of soccer in the city and Detroit PAL is doing a wonderful job and we want to help them as much as we can.
There is talk about a soccer stadium in the Greektown area or elsewhere in Detroit. Is DCFC involved in that at all?
No. We have aspirations to grow into our own stadium but we’re not working on a project at this time. We’re happy with Cass Tech, it’s been a great home for us thus far. Eventually, I think we’ll grow into our stadium. I think we’re doing it the right way, we’re starting at a grassroots level, growing our base and supporters. We don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We’re really focused on our brand and getting fans out here to the stadium.
What is the arrangement with the players? Is this their job or is it extra-curricular?
Most of our players are college players. They’re currently playing at the University of Michigan, Saginaw Valley State University, Oakland University, Butler. What they do is they play with us in their off-season. A lot of these guys do go on to the professional level.
And finally, why should people come to a DCFC game?
It’s an experience like no other in Detroit. It’s uniquely Detroit and you have to come and see it to understand it.
So for all you bandwagon Team USA/World Cup fans, turn those football/soccer interests over to the DCFC. Honestly, it is a lot of fun. Before the game was over Danny and I were already planning our next visit. I’m also putting the very popular DCFC scarf on my Christmas list.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the moment of silence at the game in honor of John Bieniewicz, a soccer referee who died last week of blunt force trauma when a disgruntled player punched him. This incident occurred in Livonia, a suburb outside Detroit where I live. It’s an unspeakable tragedy and breaks my heart. A memorial website has been set up to help his family.