Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Detroit City FC draws Michigan Bucks in first round of U.S. Open Cup

Wednesday morning marked the first round draw for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, where clubs across America learned their fate as far as who they will be facing in the opening matches of the tournament. 

Based on regional seeding strategy used by the United States Soccer Federation for this tournament, Detroit City FC fans knew in the back of their mind that there would be a 2015 rematch against the PDL side, the Michigan Bucks. Le Rouge fell 3-0 to the Bucks last year.

The two rivals will once again meet in the 2016 edition of the premier American soccer tournament, re-igniting the flame of dislike among supporters of both teams. 

"There has been a big rift between the direction of the Bucks organization and soccer fans and supporters. 

One thing that the Northern Guard doesn't like about the Bucks is that Dan Duggan [Michigan Bucks owner], for years said he was going to bring a pro team to Michigan," Dion "Duke" Degennaro, head of communications for City supporter group, the Northern Guard Supporters, said. "Duggan was the un-challenged king of soccer in Michigan, he's all there was."

Degennaro is not wrong in his explanation of Duggan. There are plenty of examples on the Internet of Duggan proclaiming that he would like to bring a professional team to Michigan. But as of this writing, no pro soccer team in Michigan has been created or conceptualized. 

"The problem was that he [Duggan] never catered or marketed to fans. His organization has been all about developing college talent into becoming better players," Degennaro said. "There was a contingency of Bucks supporters that went to games, but they were frowned upon in the arena. 

"The whole supporters group was actually alienated. 

"The whole Bucks organization has never been about catering to the fan and has been solely about development."

Enter Detroit City FC and the vast, passionate supporter group that would go to the end of the earth for Le Rouge. 

"When DCFC came to town, NGS came to fruition and created this team with great ideas that wanted to give back to the community, like bussing kids in from different areas in Detroit, or rehabilitating a stadium in Hamtramck.

"Duggan thinks that just because there will be a pro team means that there will be people there to watch the game, like all that matters is pro soccer," Degennaro said. "It's not. 

"With us you have a very passionate culture, going on a five year, storied history. We don't want someone else coming in and trying to take over and potentially ruin what we've created and what we are apart of."

Last season, a lot of banter between Detroit City FC and Michigan Bucks fans flew around social media during the lead up of the first round match-up, and its transpired to a rivalry not only on the field but also in the stands. 

And with Wednesday's announcement, the rivalry between fans has already began to spring up amongst both Le Rouge supporters and Bucks fans. 

One City fan even proclaimed it "Buck season" on Twitter. 

But according to Degennaro, the Northern Guard Supporters are willing to stand up and fight for what they believe is theirs, just as the team on the pitch will fight for the pride of beating the Bucks. 

"We're going to fight anything that comes into town that isn't DCFC," he said. "We don't want them to come here, they don't understand what we've built and they probably don't care about the community like our front office does.

"I'm sure Dan Duggan is a nice guy, but we don't want what he is selling us, and the only way to make that known is to be vocal about it."

DCFC will face off against the Michigan Bucks on May 11, at a time "to be determined" at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.

City fans will hope for a better outcome in the 2016 version of the tournament, and the players look to flip the script on the Bucks on the pitch. 

*Photo courtesy of Detroit City FC
*Appreciation to "Dion 'Duke' Degennaro of the NGS

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