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Detroit City FC could be without three players in season opener due to visa issues

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News

Detroit City FC could be without three players, including two vital cogs in the scoring attack,  due to a visa snag when the team kicks off the regular season Friday against the LA Force.

As of Thursday, forwards Shawn Lawson (Canada) and Yazeed Matthews (South Africa), as well as defender James Vaughan (South Africa), had not received their P-1 visas, which are required for non-U.S. professional athletes to play here.

Detroit City FC forward Yazeed Matthews (is one of three players who is waiting on his P-1 visa.

The match against the LA Force kicks off at 10 p.m. EST.

Matthews traveled with the team to California as he still has a valid student visa in case his P-1 petition comes through before kickoff, a club spokeswoman said. Lawson and Vaughan require consulate interviews before their petitions are granted. 

DCFC hasn’t dealt with P-1 visa issues in the past mainly because it’s operated as a semi-professional team since forming in 2012. This year, the club is debuting as a professional club in the new third-tier National Independent Soccer Association.

DCFC GM and coach Trevor James was uncertain what was causing the holdup with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“It should only take two weeks; They’ve had them for over two weeks,” James said this week. “And then they send it back. They either say, ‘Yes, you got it’ or ‘No you don't have it’ or 'We need more information.’ We haven't heard anything, so it's not like they've been denied. it’s just that we haven't heard.”

Without Lawson (15 goals in NPSL regular season and Members Cup) and Matthews (five goals and one assist in 10 Member Cup), James will have to readjust his forward line, which includes possibly starting Evans Frimpong or Roddy Green. Another option could involve shifting attacking midfielder Cyrus Saydee into a forward spot, James said.

loconnor@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @larryo1961