Friday, May 13th
Michigan Stars – Detroit City FC (7:00 PM)
Just two days after facing off with the Michigan Bucks in the 1st round of the US Open Cup, Le Rouge will travel to Wisner Stadium in Pontiac. The Stars feature a heavily revamped roster this year, retaining only a few players from last year’s 9th place out of 13 finish. New Head Coach Andy Wagstaff is a former assistant at Oakland University and the current Head Coach at Saginaw Valley State University. This year’s roster directly reflects his coaching experience, featuring a host of current and former OU players, players from around SVSU’s conference (GLIAC), and even two current members of the SVSU coaching staff. Some familiar faces to Detroit City FC fans could appear on the other side of the ball – the Stars have signed former DCFC players Shawn-Claud Lawson and Michael Lamb for the 2016 campaign.
The short turnaround after the cup tie with the Michigan Bucks will likely necessitate some degree of rotation in the Detroit City roster. This will make the game slightly more difficult than it might otherwise be, but it will also provide opportunity for some players to prove that they deserve playing time for the rest of the season.
AFC Ann Arbor – Kalamazoo FC (7:00 PM)
AFC Ann Arbor showed well in their first game of the season, mounting a second half comeback to secure the win. The result was no fluke – The Oak threatened the Dayton goal with close chances throughout the game, hitting the woodwork multiple times before finally breaking through. This is a solid team with a few dangerous players.
Kalamazoo has only played one preseason friendly, earning a 2-0 victory over D3 Kalamazoo College, where Head Coach Lumumba Shabazz coaches for the rest of the year. They are not without some decent players, but I have some concerns about the quality of their supporting cast and depth. AFC Ann Arbor should be an entirely different level of opponent than Kalamazoo College, and have to be considered the clear favorites to me.
Dayton Dynamo – Lansing United (7:00 PM)
Dayton was outgunned by Ann Arbor last weekend, but I have reservations about whether they were able to send a complete squad on the trip. The early timing of that game in the schedule means not all teams are fully together yet, and long road trips often mean that some players at this level can’t travel due to other obligations. Owner David Satterwhite also took to twitter on Wednesday to say that Dayton have signed a former Senegalese international with Champions League experience. The name hasn’t been released yet, but if this player is still in shape it would help bolster their squad further. Playing at home with the benefit of an extra week for players to join the squad could see a different level of Dynamo team on the field on Friday.
Lansing is under a new head coach following Eric Rudland’s departure to AFC Ann Arbor. Nate Miller, the head coach at Spring Arbor University, has taken the reigns. The team has lost former captain Matt Brown and a few players to other clubs in the offseason, but still have a solid set of players from Michigan State University as a backbone, and return other key players such as Austin Dunn and James DeCosemo. This will be a good test of Lansing right off the bat though, with a long road trip and a potentially strengthened opponent. The result of this one should tell us a lot about what to expect from both teams for the rest of the year.
Sunday, May 15th
Dayton Dynamo – Detroit City FC (2:00 PM)
The Cincinnati Saints finished low in the table the last two years, but they gave Detroit City a serious fight both times the two teams met in Ohio. A stoppage time winner out of Michael Lamb and a late comeback with only ten men saw DCFC take 3 points in each, and DCFC won every meeting between the two teams. In the offseason Cincy moved to Dayton, and they’ve retained former coaches, staff, and a number of players from their old team. However, this game should be considered far from free points. It is the longest road trip on the regular season schedule, the third game in just 5 days, a USOC game on Wednesday to look forward to, and Dayton may be able to field a stronger squad at home than they showed against AFC Ann Arbor. This should be a serious litmus test of Detroit City’s depth and resolve early in the season.
Bonus Info: Dayton should be streaming the match via their website. So if you can’t make the long road trip, you can still watch the game!
Kalamazoo FC – Lansing United (6:05 PM)
I’ve already expended most of what I have to say about both teams in their previous games this weekend. This is the second game of the weekend for both, and as such should test the depth of both teams. I’ll be looking towards this result and news from the game to tell us something about the capabilities of each team for the rest of the season.
Grand Rapids FC is the only team that won’t kick off divisional play this weekend, opting to instead start their regular season on May 20th.