Le Rouge of Detroit City FC have come to be known for two things: winning and having one of the most exciting fan environments in southeast Michigan. As the club embarks on its fourth season, here are seven reasons why you should get excited for DCFC soccer this summer.
1. High-profile matchups early in the season
Last month, Le Rouge played admirably in a 1-0 loss to Michigan State in a friendly exhibition match. On Friday, DCFC finished its preseason with a 3-1 victory over the Muskegon Risers Soccer Club in front of a home crowd of 2,487, what Le Rouge hope is a sign of things to come as the team enters league play in the Midwest Division of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).
Before NPSL league play commences on Friday, May 15, on DCFC's home field at Cass Technical High School, Le Rouge will square off against the Michigan Bucks in Pontiac. This game has the makings of an instant classic.
"This is the first time in our history that we've played each other," says DCFC co-owner Alex Wright. "The Bucks are really good. An objective observer would say that we're the underdog."
The match is a part of the opening round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the oldest ongoing competition in American soccer. Organizers of the national tournament are billing the Bucks vs. DCFC matchup as a "standout pairing." The winner of this match would move on to play the minor league team of the Portland Timbers, one of Major League Soccer's premier franchises.
DCFC's Alex Wright is excited.
"This is where the two models of soccer in Michigan are going to collide," he says. "The Bucks are super good at winning. That's what they do. They're one of the most successful amateur teams in the U.S. DCFC, on the other hand, has changed the conversation about how a local soccer team survives. Until we came along, people thought it was too risky to base a soccer team in Detroit."
DCFC and the Michigan Bucks will collide on Wednesday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here
2. New sponsorships
This year, you will notice something different on the front of Le Rouge's uniforms – advertisements. That's because Detroit City FC has landed a deal with the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers, who have become Le Rouge's first ever title sponsor.
So what does this mean? According to DCFC's website, "the partnership will bring new programs to DCFC, including online streaming for DCFC's home league matches and a series of summer youth clinics."
Another sponsorship you are certain to enjoy is that by Motor City Brewing Works, makers of the official craft beer of Detroit City FC. Swing by MCBW's Midtown taproom before and after games to enjoy Detroit City FC's signature brew, "Le Rouge Ale."
3. Live streaming of home games
Can't make it to every game this year because your idiot best friend decided to get married on the day of an important Le Rouge home match? This isn't as big of a deal as it used to be. Thanks to the sponsorship of Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers, you will be able to live stream six DCFC home games this year.
The club is working with Detroit Public Television to produce the live streams, which will make use of four cameras, providing you with the most important angles of the match.
4. The March to the Match
Despite being a relatively young club, Detroit City FC's rabid network of supporters has given rise to a number of new traditions, chief among them the "March to the Match." Before every home game, a group of DCFC supporters gathers at Harry's Bar in the lower Cass Corridor and makes a procession to Cass Tech. Crowds of over 500 people are not uncommon.
5. Community partnerships
A truly special aspect of the 2015 Detroit City FC season is the way in which the club is engaging with young Detroiters. In partnership with Flagstar Bank and the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, DCFC will send a school bus into a different neighborhood before each home game, picking up 60 residents and taking them to the match for free.
Additionally, every kid who participates in Detroit PAL's youth soccer program will receive free season tickets to DCFC home games. Later in the season, DCFC will auction off limited edition, game-worn jerseys to benefit PAL's soccer program.
6. New swag
Last year, a supplier issue limited the availability of official jerseys. This year, DCFC supporters are able to buy them through the club's online store and at merch stands at games. Also new this year: DCFC onesies for babies! Like every season, the club will produce a new scarf.
To see DCFC's full line of swag, click here
7. DCFC is the hottest ticket in town
Just like last year, you will find it incredibly difficult to obtain DCFC tickets if you procrastinate. Season tickets sold out in just 90 days and are already listed on Ebay for double their face value. Single game tickets, which cost $10 each, are all that remain. Get 'em while you can!
Matthew Lewis is Model D's managing editor. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjlew.
Photo by Jon Deboer for Detroit City FC.