Detroit City FC is one of two new arrivals in the USL Championship for the 2022 season, but the club’s past decade since its founding in 2012 in the amateur and professional ranks provides a history that is unique in the North American soccer landscape. As it makes the step up to the second tier, Le Rouge also brings with it one of the most passionate supporters’ groups in the country, which will make Keyworth Stadium a major stage for their new rivals to visit in the coming year.
On the field, DCFC has achieved much success under Head Coach Trevor James during its time in the National Independent Soccer Association. The side won each of the past three regular season titles, the Legends Cup, the NISA Championship, and other honors. The core group of players that delivered that success will now get the chance to compete in the Championship with captain Stephen Carroll and most recent Black Arrow award winner Connor Rutz among those who will compete in the league for the first time.
There is Championship experience in Detroit’s squad as well, though, with veteran forward Antoine Hoppenot and former Atlanta United 2 midfielder Abdoulaye Diop – a former DCFC player in the club’s amateur days – among the new arrivals for 2022. After Oakland Roots SC’s success last year making a similar move, DCFC will enter hopeful it can be a playoff contender this season. Whatever happens, though, the new arrivals will certainly make their presence known.
Antoine Hoppenot – Veteran Championship forward brings experience to league’s newcomers
Abdoulaye Diop – Former DCFC midfielder returns after stint with Atlanta United 2
Deklan Wynne – New Zealand full back spent much of 2021 season at OKC Energy FC
Billy Forbes – Turks and Caicos international has notched 30 goals, 18 assists in Championship over career
Darwin Espinal – Honduran winger made move to Maryland Bobcats
Jimmy Filerman – Defender signed with USL League One’s Greenville Triumph SC
Antoine Hoppenot, Forward
Detroit City FC has retained some of its key players from its most recent campaign, but one notable addition to Le Rouge is the arrival of USL Championship veteran Antoine Hoppenot, whose experience and recent success in the league should make an impact. The 31-year-old has recorded 31 goals and 33 assists in the Championship’s regular season over his career, including four goals and four assists for Louisville City FC a season ago. It may be too much to expect the peak of Hoppenot’s production at Reno 1868 FC when he recorded 17 goals and 19 assists across the 2017-18 seasons, but there should be plenty to work with here for the veteran as he heads north to Michigan.
Stephen Carroll, Defender
The first player signed for Detroit City FC’s new era in the USL Championship was club captain Stephen Carroll, who has become a fixture at DCFC since his debut in 2017. The Ireland native earned the NISA Golden Ball award in 2020 and was also the club’s 2018 Black Arrow recipient while anchoring a defense that boasted a +42-goal differential throughout Le Rouge’s tenure in the third-tier league, surrendering just 20 goals in 36 matches. Carroll led all defenders in NISA last season with four goals on his way to All-League First Team honors and will be hoping to have a strong impact as the club moves up.
Trevor James (4th Season)
Now entering his fourth year at Detroit City FC, veteran English coach Trevor James will be looking to emulate the success he has delivered at Keyworth Stadium. A former assistant coach at the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer, James also previously worked as a scout for legendary manager Sir Bobby Robson, and that wealth of knowledge and experience will continue to serve DCFC well as it enters the Championship this season.
25Detroit City FC claimed the National Independent Soccer Association’s regular season title last fall while losing only once. The side posted a +25-goal differential while scoring the most goals in the 18-game campaign (35) and conceding the fewest (10).