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Bucks beat Detroit FC, but real game is off the pitch

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Pontiac — This was more than a soccer game. It was a litmus test for bringing professional soccer to Detroit.

As a sold-out building rocked to the drumbeats and chants of the Detroit City FC fans, it looked like a success for Dan Duggan and his band of potential financial backers whom he hopes will invest in a Midtown stadium to bring pro soccer to Detroit.

But many of the 1,845 who showed up to watch the Michigan Bucks handle Detroit City FC, 3-0, on Wednesday at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in the opening round of the U.S. Open Cup said they will not support a club headed by the Bucks owner.

A vocal Detroit City crowd chanted to the end. The more family oriented Bucks supporters were mostly quiet.

"The phrase is club over league," said Nick Kendell of Detroit. "I don't care what league we play in, we are not going to a Duggan-supported game. This is a real team with real supporters who are the heart and soul of the city. The Bucks are Duggan's play toy."

The Bucks have been in the Detroit area for 20 years but the more popular local club is Detroit FC, which is quickly outgrowing its home field at Cass Tech. The team is looking to renovate Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck.

A spokesperson for Dan Gilbert said the city has indicated it would be willing to provide land on the Detroit waterfront for either club if it needs more room.

The race is heated.

Duggan's team is the one with the big financial supporters. Detroit City FC is the team with the popular support.

Either way, there likely will be pro soccer in Detroit by the summer of 2016.

But the thousands of supporters of DCFC, who are likely targets of a pro team, said they will not show up.

For many it was their first and last trip to Ultimate to see the Bucks play.

This lyric was chanted during the game and passed out to fans, sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall."

"We don't need no Daniel Duggan, We don't need USL Pro, You're just a club set in a tin can, Duggan leave Detroit alone."

The Bucks were clearly the better team, scoring all their goals in the first half. David Goldsmith, Peri Marosevic and Brad Ruhaak scored. Detroit City had a few nice chances but could not take advantage.

These are amateur teams, but turning Detroit into a pro soccer town won't be as easy as everyone believes. There is a divide as the clubs battle for control.

Dan Duggan stood in an upper-deck box near Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Dan's brother. Both want to see professional soccer in Detroit. The question is, can they do it without the help of DCFC?

Duggan has the power and political clout; DCFC has the passionate and loyal fans.

Duggan said the key is who gets the land to build a stadium.