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Downriver League boys are keeping the area on their toes

Photo by Samantha Elliott Tad Davis’ (3) Trenton Trojans battled through two overtimes with Damian Ovalle’s (5) Carlson Marauders. In the end, Carlson won in seven rounds of penalty kicks, knocking off 2013 DRL champion, Trenton.

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When you head into a sports season, there’s usually a favorite. A favorite to win the league, or at least a few teams that are expected to battle right at the top of the standings.

Covering these teams the past few seasons, I’m a fairly good judge of who will land where when the final standings are dished out at the end of the year for Downriver League soccer teams. But this year, I wouldn’t bet any money on any particular outcome of league standings.

It is still early; just two weeks into the season, but these nine teams have already made 2014 a memorable one with some outcomes in any of the games on any given night.

A year ago, Trenton turned around a 2-4 season to advance to the regional finals and won the Downriver League title along the way. Melvindale was the team to watch, and rightfully so as the Cardinals took on Trenton in the very last DRL action of the season to battle for the outright title.

Carlson also had its say in the league standings, winning its last three games and upsetting 2012 champ Anderson before knocking off Melvindale.

Fast forward to 2014 and the teams are making it even more interesting than last season.

Heading into Friday’s contest, it was Carlson who was holding on to the first-place spot in the league, with a perfect 4-0 record.

The Marauders started the season with a win over Allen Park and have cruised from there. The Marauders’ biggest win came Aug. 26 when the team took defending champ Trenton to penalty kicks before prevailing in the seventh round.

Melvindale has continued its 2013 success, knocking off Woodhaven, who finished second in the league in 2013. But just days after the win over the Warriors, the Cardinals were blanked 4-0 by Truman at home.

Truman then turned around to take on Woodhaven in a tough, physical battle that went to overtime, but the Warriors were on the winning side of that one.

Truman had another overtime battle the week before, that time against Trenton, but the Trojans got the win in that one.

See why I’m not betting money?

It gets more interesting though.

Melvindale broke a tie in the second half in a game against Anderson and went on to get the 5-2 win with three goals in 13 minutes.

Two nights later the Jags came to visit and topped Anderson 1-0.

Wednesday, winless Lincoln Park took Anderson to penalty kicks before the Titans scraped by with the win.

Friday’s matchups could have mixed up the league in a number of different ways.

Carlson traveled to Truman with hopes of extending their win-streak, Allen Park traveled to Trenton and Anderson and Woodhaven faced off on Woodhaven’s turf.

Definitely an interesting night.

Heading into Friday’s matchups the league standings were this; Carlson, Melvindale, Woodhaven, Trenton, Anderson, Truman, Allen Park, Lincoln Park, Kennedy.

But of course that can and will change.

The teams are all full of talented players who make each game interesting.

The goalies on each team are stepping up and making some big saves to keep their squads in the game.

Various players stand out for each team as well.

Melvindale’s star striker Saleh Ahmed is adding to his 2013 success and scored five goals, yes five, against Anderson.

Bardh Elmazaj has been making his presence known in each game for the Marauders and Tad Davis is playing with the same heart he did last season for the Trojans.

The Warriors are a much smaller, much younger team, playing a different brand of soccer than normally comes out of the Woodhaven program, but definitely not one to overlook.

Anyone can win on any given day and the league standings are almost hard to keep up with, with how fast they change.

The best part is that in 2013, teams played each other once and then the league standings were shuffled with the top half playing for the title, while the bottom half battled amongst themselves. With changes this season, each team plays each other twice.

You know what that means. In just a few weeks, we’ll be doing these games all over again.

I’m still not betting my money.

Last Updated: 9/4/2014 7:17:30 PM EST