Detroit City FC first women's coach Sam Piraine tasked with assembling roster

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News

Detroit City FC’s newly named women’s coach Sam Piraine has a lengthy resume but is largely staring at an empty roster.

The veteran of Metro Detroit area soccer youth coaching circles is hardly daunted by the challenge facing him, though. The Canton resident has until May to assemble a playing squad to compete in the United Women’s Soccer circuit, which features some of the top female collegiate and amateur talent in the country.

UWS competes in the second tier of the women’s professional-amateur game, a step below the National Women's Professional League.

Since 2013, Sam Piraine has been technical director of Canton Soccer Club, which was renamed Detroit City FC West earlier this year. Piraine has been named as the coach of DCFC women's team, which begins play this May in the United Women's Soccer league.

DCFC will have a tryout from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at Detroit City Fieldhouse, 3401 E Lafayette, where Piraine will begin the process of lining up players.

Registration is $50, which can be applied as a credit toward a DCFC season ticket that covers the men's and women's seasons.

"The fee is something we've always done with the men's tryouts," said Sean Mann, DCFC chief executive officer. "With it being very public, it ensures some buy-in from the trialists that they'll actually come and put that spot to use."

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Those who do buy-in, Piraine says, will be committed to providing an entertaining brand of soccer.

“I am going to try to implement a possession-minded game, attractive to the fans but ultimately with an end product of scoring goals,” said Piraine, who starred four years at Madonna University before playing professionally with the Cincinnati Riverhawks of the since disbanded A-League. 

“On the defensive side of the game, we’ll concentrate on team shape, team defensive units: How do we defend as a team rather than as an individual to make it easy on each other and regain possession of the ball.”

Piraine's hiring is a promotion from within of sorts.

Nearly a year ago, DCFC formed a partnership with Canton and Genesee Celtic youth soccer clubs, which were rebranded as Detroit City FC Youth West and Detroit City FC Youth Genesee. He's been technical director of Canton Soccer Club since 2013. He holds a USSF C coaching license.

Piraine is also director of Elevate90 Soccer Skill Training Academy.

"We had several folks reach out once the team was announced, but we already had a shortlist of candidates in mind from the beginning based on people we had worked with as well as recommendations from friends in the industry," Mann said.

DCFC is adding a women’s team after eight years of unparalleled success as a semi-professional men’s side, which has drawn international attention for drawing crowds in excess of 7,000 at Keyworth Stadium.

The men are making the jump to a full-time professional outfit this year, joining the third-tier National Independent Soccer Association this spring.

This appears to be an optimum time to add a women’s team. 

Several pro clubs in Europe, Mexico and South America now field women sides, which are carving their own identities.

Last month, 41,615 fans attended the first leg of a Liga MX Femenil final between Tigres Femenil and Rayadas de Monterrey. While that may be an anomaly, Tottenham Hotspur LFC are averaging 12,979 this season in the 12-team England FA Women’s Super League. 

With NISA expected to play a spring-fall schedule, Le Rouge women will not be playing in the men’s shadow. They’ll have top billing at Keyworth Stadium for most of the summer. 

Le Rouge women will also be maintaining those intrastate rivalries the men’s club built with former National Premier Soccer League foes like AFC Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids FC and Lansing United, which compete in the UWS Midwest Division. 

Michigan Legends play in Brighton while the Detroit Sun announced its moving to The Corner Ballpark in Corktown from Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, serving up the prospect of a women’s “derby” this summer.

“I think it's going to be a fun environment for both home and away matches with the Detroit Sun,” Piraine said, “but I'm also excited just for the league itself and the division itself, which has players and teams that are not too far from each other. So rivalries are going to be big in all matches that are going to be played. They are all going to be important.

“This thing with the Sun for me is it is just two more matches on the schedule that we're going to look forward to playing.”

Twitter: @larryo1961