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05 / 23

A Rivalry Begins

WRITTEN BY: Jeremy Sampson
PUBLISHED ON: May 23, 2014

Tonight will mark the first time that the first teams of Lansing United (1-1-0) and Detroit City F.C. (2-0-0) will battle on a pitch.

The club’s reserve squads met this past Saturday at the East Lansing Soccer Complex and settled for a 1-1 tie. This time, the first teams will clash at an unfamiliar location, Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit, Mich., in front of a predicted sellout crowd of over 2,000.

“It’s another league match,” United head coach Eric Rudland said. “It’s a game away from home and we just kind of have to move on business as usual. That’s our mindframe going into it and, as a staff, that’s what we’re talking about as well.”

Preparing for the unfamiliar environment was one of the focuses of United’s coaching staff during the week’s training. As well as training on a smaller pitch all week, Rudland also forced the players to train in a different way than usual throughout the week.

“We told them they couldn’t talk during the match because it’s obviously going to be hard to hear one another, so we trained a little bit that way (Thursday) with guys not being able to communicate verbally,” Rudland said. “Those non-verbal communications and checking shoulders and being aware becomes ultra critical.”

Another change United took into account was the size of the field that Detroit City plays on.

“It’s a 55-yard wide field which is about 15 yards less than what we’re used to,” Rudland said.

United prepared this week for tonight’s unfamiliarities, but still plans to hold a few advantages come game time.

“The advantage to us it that we train and play on grass everyday,” Rudland said. “(Detroit City) actually train on turf and then play at Cass Tech (which has natural grass), so I think that might give us a little bit of an edge from the surface standpoint.”

Both United and Detroit City are coming off victories in their last match. United was led by captain Matt Brown’s hat trick in last Sunday’s 4-0 victory over the Michigan Stars (0-0-2), while DCFC also cruised to a shutout against the Stars in a 3-0 victory last Friday.

After DCFC set a new attendance record last Friday against the Stars, breaking last season’s record of 2,641, and the club’s midweek announcement that they had already pre-sold more tickets than ever before, tonight’s game looks like it will live up to the hype that the communities have built around the two clubs finally meeting. Even though the pressure has built, United is planning on playing their own game.

“We’re just going out to play another game,” Rudland said. “Obviously, the media, the league, the owners and probably a lot of the people in the soccer community have touted it as a big game, a rivalry game. It’s the top two teams in the league, so I think a lot of that stuff just kind of happened naturally.”