We coalesce around this feeling, sensual as velvet, barely encountered in daily life, a rare emotional element produced most reliably by suspending belief in a matrix of football: The exaltation of golden moments, the alchemy of interacting intelligences, and the tribal satisfaction of victory.
Hey, it’s still preseason. One outta three ain’t … uhh, well … it’s fine.
Our beloved Detroit City FC wrapped up its preseason in unlovely fashion on Saturday evening, squandering a 2-0 lead at home to draw Dayton Dynamo FC, 2-2. What moments of exaltation were on offer were, generally, overbalanced by the failings in the categories of ‘alchemy’ and ‘tribal satisfaction.’
The Rouge and Gold opened the game in a wildly high-pressing 4-2-4, with only new recruit Bakie Goodman and captain Dave Edwardson manning the acres of space in the middle of the pitch. The early returns on the press were promising, with Jeff Adkins and Cyrus Saydee making an interesting duo on the wings – Adkins slashing and direct, Saydee cannier, his instincts honed by years in the middle. But their pressing assignments kept them isolated from each other; instead, City insisted on playing as directly as possible in a given situation, going straight at goal, relentlessly.
Let’s just say that, tactically, this wasn’t 5-D chess; this was more like the contest favored by Monsieur Rochambeaux. After the feeling-out period, Dayton figured out that simply dropping midfielders deep would solve the press, but by then we had a 1-0 lead on an own goal. Adkins – playing, as ever, outside-in from the left – had pulled back onto his right foot and served one of those balls that maaaaaaybe is going to find the back post, curling in hard, and Dayton defender Peyton Mowrey panic-cleared it into his own net.
We scored! We shouted! My brain reminded me that these tactics were unsustainable! I’m reconstructing the goal from several eyewitnesses, since Jay-Baby’s cross took place somewhere around Sarge’s midsection, by my sight-line! But exaltation, kinda! Yess!
We got some real exaltation in the second half, and it came from two men whose names will be part of this club’s lore as long as there’s a club to have lore. In the 58th minute Edwardson, our Geordie captain, made a run into the right channel from central midfield, pivoting to take sharp entry pass from Goodman; his run and the attraction of the ball had the entire Dayton defense moving to anticipate him slashing into the penalty area, shifting as a unit back and to the left … leaving Saydee all alone on the right when Edwardson’s perfectly weighted backheel fell to his feet.
Given a moment to breathe, Cyrus pulled the ball back to his favored left foot and curled a shot into the far corner of the net, just sort of gestured it gently into the upper 90 from 20 yards out, setting off a generalized (and, this time, well-earned) pandemonium. Score, shout, smoke you out. Detroit City ain’t nothin’ ta fuk wit.
And then it all went a bit wobbly, and it’s so difficult to put away the feeling that we’ve seen this all before, isn’t it? Promising team? Familiar guys in form, new guys looking good – and then some kind of confusion hits the side, everyone panics, the shape is lost entirely as everyone just runs around madly, and we’re all left choking down another home draw like peanut butter on Wonder bread with nothing to drink? No? Just me?
As the evening’s work came undone – as substitutes layered onto the field, each gradually more anxious than the last – it became clear that, in some ways, the expectations and hopes of the supporters can be a burden to young players just trying to find their way. Since these expectations are manifestly unfair – as unfair as the rewards for satisfying them are otherwise unattainable – we should make them clear from the start, for those around Detroit City FC who don’t know:
All we ask is everything you’ve got. As Oscar Pareja would say, ‘busca la forma’ – find a way.
All we offer is adulation and a certain kind of immortality.
Up to you, gentlemen. It’s a tough gig, becoming gods. But now that you’ve got a chance, don’t ya wanna?