LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – For almost a full calendar year, there have been talks about a new semi-professional soccer club coming to Lansing.
That officially became a reality Saturday night.
Lansing Common Football Club made its long-anticipated debut in front of a sold-out crowd against Fort Wayne Sport Club.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 450 spectators were allowed to attend the match, but those in attendance made it seem like 4,500 spectators were spread out throughout Eastern Stadium.
“It was amazing, but I think in a lot of ways it was expected because of the hard work of so many,” Lansing Common FC coach, Josh Oakley said. “I’m just pleased to be a small, small part of it. So, bravo to everybody that made this day happen.”
“I thought the crowd was great. There was a lot more people than I thought there was going to be,” said Kyle Scott, who scored the first goal in the team’s history. “I think it’s great, especially after a pandemic. All these people, that want to come out and support the community, I think it’s awesome. It’s nice to see a stadium full, since it has been a while.”
Fort Wayne ruined the party momentarily by scoring the game’s first goal via penalty kick in the 36th minute. Shortly after that, Common responded with two goals late in the first half.
Scott scored the team’s first goal in the 40th minute and Travis Hamers found the back of the net in the final seconds of stoppage time.
“Tremendous crowd, great supporters. We started very slow for them, and I apologize, but we were kind of trying to grow into the game,” Oakley said. “Then we found something, gave up a tough penalty, but right after that the team came alive.”
Lansing added another goal in the second half, courtesy of Josh Rosendale in the 59th minute, and defeated Fort Wayne, 3-1, to claim its first-ever win in its first-ever match.
“It’s felt great,” Scott said. “I’m just blessed to be on a team with such talented players. I’m extremely happy I scored tonight and the results show for themselves. I think we’re a great team and we have a lot more to show.”
“Obviously tons of work to do, but there were moments that we can take out of it,” Oakley said. “There were also moments where we weren’t so good, where we can learn from, and that’s what a friendly is for.”
Common has 33 players on its roster. Fort Wayne barely had enough to take the field. Which meant two players from Lansing’s squad had to suit up for the opponent. That’s where Nick Robinson and Jake Walther stepped up and impressed their coach.
“Phenomenal guys and that really is one of the most important parts of building a team- team chemistry and selflessness,” Oakley said. “Jake and Nick did a tremendous job. They basically just helped us today because the opponent was short-staffed. They got in, they got minutes. It’s just an amazing thing, and if we have a team that’s built on that, we have a chance to go far.
Common will play its first league game against West Michigan Bearing, on May 22 at Eastern Stadium.