Detroit City FC, Stars join NISA on 30-day hiatus amid coronavirus threat

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News

Detroit City FC and the National Independent Soccer Association, following suit with other major sports and colleges, have suspended play for 30 days due to the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19.

DCFC was set to have its home opener on Saturday, March 21, at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. Le Rouge is playing its first season as a professional club in the third-tier NISA after competing for eight years in the semi-professional National Premier Soccer League.

Detroit City FC and NISA is going on a 30-day hiatus.

DCFC defeated Los Angeles Force 2-0 in its season opener Feb. 28.

The suspension in play also affects the Pontiac-based Michigan Stars, who also were scheduled to have their home opener on Saturday, March 21, against the LA Force at Ultimate Soccer Arenas Outdoor Stadium. The Stars (0-2) were en route to play Chattanooga FC on Saturday when receiving word about the suspension in play.

DCFC and Stars players and staff will continue to be paid during the shutdown, the clubs said.

"It does affect us spiritually because we were looking forward to having our first home game on the 21st," said Stars owner and manager George Juncaj in a statement. "We were also half way to Chattanooga (Tennessee) looking forward to playing against them this Saturday but received a call where the game was canceled and we have to come back.

"We wish health and happiness to everyone."

DCFC will see two home dates scratched during the 30-day period, including a March 28 encounter against the Stars.

The league will look at rescheduling the postponed matches, said DCFC CEO Sean Mann, who acknowledged the short-term loss of income is critical to a small business like DCFC.

“Our revenue is entirely dependent on matchday revenue, so obviously it is going to put a crunch on us,” said Mann, who added the club was expecting one of its bigger crowds, upward of 6,000, for the home opener at 7,933-capacity Keyworth Stadium. “But we are actively working channel and all angles that we have to make sure we have long-term viability.”

More: MLS shutting down for 30 days due to coronavirus

Detroit City Fieldhouse, which offers indoor soccer leagues, and the City Clubhouse inside, will remain open.

DCFC’s U.S. Cup match versus the El Paso Locomotive FC on April 8 at Keyworth Stadium remains scheduled as is pending further guidance from the U.S. Soccer Federation, the team said.

The USL Championship, the second-tier league that the EL Locomotive FC competes in, also announced Thursday it is suspending play for 30 days. The U.S. Open Cup is a separate competition, though.

Twitter: @larryo1961