By Alan Madlane
Le Rouge is moving on up.
The soccer squad, the local faves with the rowdy fun fanbase, is getting promoted.
“Le Rouge,” for those of you still not quite in the know, is the fond nickname for the Detroit City Football Club (DCFC). The nickname is a reference to the city’s French roots, as well as the nearby River Rouge.
It could also be said to reference the team’s primarily red home jersey color scheme, as well as giving a subtle nod to that other Detroit icon, the Nain Rouge. The team also goes by “The Wolfpack.”
However you cheer them, the club has been approved as one of three teams to join the third tier of the U.S. soccer’s hierarchy, the NISA, or National Independent Soccer Association.
The NISA is considered a “fully professional” league, as versus where the DCFC had been toiling, which was the fourth-tier, “semi-pro” NPSA, or National Premier Soccer League.
They are joined in their promotion by two other teams, Chattanooga FC and Oakland (California) Roots SC.
They bring the number of teams in the NISA to 13 total, adding to the 10 established ones. Those include three other (southern) California clubs (Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego) and four other clubs based in the south (Atlanta, Miami, Baton Rouge and Charlotte).
The other three are east coast squads (Philadelphia, Providence and Connecticut), meaning that Detroit is the only northern or Midwest club in the league, as it stands now.
Which translates to a lot of travel, for away games.
A recent effort by the club to renovate Keyworth Stadium (not to be confused with that for Hamtramck Stadium), combined with solid fan attendance and support, may have been factors that sold the NISA on bringing the club along to a higher echelon.
The renovations, completed in spring, brought the stadium’s capacity to 7,933. The work was able to be accomplished by virtue of $741,000 raised for the purpose, an impressive sum.
That figure supplements an $800,000 grant the Hamtramck School District had secured last year that was used to replace the stadium’s artificial turf.
In 2018, some 52,550 fans passed through the gates during the season. With 11 games on the docket this year, coupled with the stadium’s new capacity, that figure could end up rising by close to 50%.
Looks like “Le Rouge” scored big with this one.
Aug. 23, 2019