Nate Steinwascher, Deklan Wynne, Trevor James give Detroit City FC midseason awards haul
If the first half of Detroit City FC’s season wasn’t proof that it could hang in USL Championship, how about some individual hardware?
The league announced its Mid-Season Award winners on Wednesday night, with Le Rouge's own taking home the top prize in three out of five categories: Nate Steinwascher won goalkeeper of the year, Deklan Wynne defender of the year and Trevor James coach of the year.
"Just to be nominated, two or three or however many players there are, it's outstanding for them. It just shows you that their consistency, game in, game out, has been remarkable," James said.
For all three of the DCFC winners, it's a remarkable distinction. But for Steinwascher, specifically, it must be a bit surreal. The DCFC keeper, a Sterling Heights native who played college soccer at Detroit Mercy, was once a backup for Le Rouge in their National Premier Soccer League days.
Now, he ranks first league-wide in goals minus expected-goals with a mark of minus-6.18, per league data, and third in saves (53). James called Steinwascher "our rock."
Wynne's play, on the other hand, has maybe gone a bit under the radar, despite him being tied for fourth in USL Championship in assists (six). His staunch play at left-back has been critical for DCFC all season, as he ranks in the 86th percentile in goals above replacement, per USL Tactics, and has played a whopping 99% of available minutes.
"He's only come out in one game, and that was in Miami, and that was not the best decision by me. I should have kept him in," James said.
For both players to be honored with Mid-Season Awards, James added, is special. They each play a large part in DCFC's impressive mark of conceding just 0.9 goals per game. But just as important than their play on the field, James said, is the attitude that they bring to the team.
"They're great trainers. They've always got a smile on their face when they're around the club. They really enjoy what they do, so it's great they get noticed for that because it's a lot of hard work and they certainly both deserve it," James said.
Over the last few years, James, who is closing in on his 100th match with Detroit City, has overseen club promotions from NPSL to National Independent Soccer Association, and more recently NISA to USL Championship. He led the club to a victory over MLS team Columbus Crew in the U.S. Open Cup earlier this season.
Despite some ups and downs with injuries and a log-jammed schedule earlier in the season, DCFC has lost just four matches in its 20-game schedule so far and has remained steady near the top of the Eastern Conference table. DCFC has yet to lose back-to-back games in any season under James' leadership.
Midfielder Maxi Rodriguez, who's scored some of the biggest goals in club history just a couple years removed from thinking his soccer career was over, is just one of many players who've been vocal about their love for James and how he's gotten the most out of the club.
"You have so much to worry about, so much to focus on as a player. Am I doing well? Am I not doing well? Does the coach see what I'm doing? Does he understand what type of player I am?" Rodriguez told The Detroit News in May.
"When you come into a situation like that, and the coach is honest, but at the same time, allows me to kind of just relax and focus on the soccer aspect and not about everything else, it makes my job so much easier. I can just focus on myself and doing well."
Business is about to be booming.
Detroit City FC on Thursday announced that that their new retail location in Detroit at 1216 Griswold (about a stone's throw away from Campus Martius) would officially be open to the public on Friday.
The store will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, according to a tweet from the team.
Team co-owners Alex Wright and Sean Mann announced the plans to open a retail location during an owner's meeting in May. At the time, DCFC's main retail location was in the Detroit City Clubhouse, the upstairs bar and restaurant. Limited exposure inspired the move to downtown Detroit, where the hope is that foot traffic will help drive business.
Aside from general DCFC apparel, there will also be a ticket office at the space, where tickets can be purchased without fees.
"We appreciate this space here, but you know, this place winds down for a good portion of the year," Mann said. "It helps our exposure, but it's also a good business move. We had a lot of foot traffic in Hamtramck. This space will be bigger and better."