LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – In year one, the Lansing Common Football Club has given soccer fans in Mid-Michigan a lot to cheer about. On top of having a roster that includes mostly local talent, the club is starting to put together solid wins as the season draws to a close.
In the Robins’ last eight Midwest Premier League matches, the club is 6-1-1 and currently sits in second place in the East Division. One of those wins came against first-place Detroit City FC U23, 3-0, at home on the fourth of July.
One of the key reasons for LCFC’s success is the play and leadership of captain and 2012 East Lansing graduate Julian Birge.
“I’ve always seen Julian as a true winner,” Lansing Common coach and Birge’s coach at Alma College, Josh Oakley said. “Also, there’s parts of his game where he’s honed over the years. You look at the last goal for the club, it may well be the goal of the year, not for the club but for the league.”
“I compare him to – if it’s a pro athlete maybe it’s Tim Tebow,” Oakley said. “A lot of people make the argument that Tim Tebow, does he have the skill to play at this level, at the highest level. Well, the last time he did, Denver won.”
Birge was one of the first players Common signed back, and from there, it was clear he was going to wear the captain patch.
“We knew exactly what we were getting,” Oakley said. “Certainly he has not disappointed.”
“He saw something in me really before I saw that leadership ability in myself, even though I was a captain for my freshman and JV team in high school,” Birge said. “I struggled with confidence a lot so I think the leading by example came from putting my head down and working as hard as I possibly could to help the team.”
As a sophomore at Alma, Birge was a captain for the men’s soccer team, in fact, Oakley decided to name him captain during his second semester of freshman year.
“To be honest, that was the first time we had done something like that,” Oakley said. “I never felt it was a risky decision at all. Just that it was the right decision.”
“The way the players, my teammates, responded to that, also gave me a lot of belief because I didn’t feel any ill will just because I was a really young kid getting the captain’s band,” Birge said.
During the school year, Birge continues to be a leader. He’s currently a middle school counselor at East Lansing and an assistant varsity soccer coach for the Trojans.