The Mighty Oak Move to Skyline High School for 2018


AFC Ann Arbor will be playing at Skyline High School this summer, a move that came in response to Pioneer High School's turf being resurfaced beginning this spring. 

"From our first match back in April 2015 until now, Hollway has been a great home pitch for our club. The last time we were beaten there dates back to July of 2016 and the staff and athletic department from Pioneer have been great to work with. We're thrilled for them to get the new turf they've been wanting for so long," said Chairman, Bilal Saeed. 

"We're looking forward to making Skyline our home this summer and keeping on with our winning ways. I have a ton of respect for Chris Morgan and the soccer program he's built there and I'm bias but I love the Skyline colors as well," added Saeed. 

Out of the ten home matches this summer, eight will be played at Skyline High School with two friendlies at other local venues. On April 21st, Ann Arbor will host Saginaw Valley State University in a friendly benefitting both the Huron Girls Varsity soccer team and SVSU's men's soccer team. On April 29th, Force FC will come to town for the 4th Annual Saline Showcase at Saline HS. 

Mark your calendars for April 15th, the season opener friendly against Carpathia FC and the first match at Skyline HS. Memberships and Flex Ticket Plans are on sale now with single match tickets set to go on sale March 12th. 

Ann Arbor Agrees to Multiyear Partnership with Capelli Sport


Association Football Club Ann Arbor (AFC Ann Arbor) has established a multiyear partnership with Capelli Sport, the innovative sportswear and renowned team-wear brand, as the club’s Official Apparel Provider.

With the new partnership comes a new look for The Mighty Oak, which will be unveiled in early April, prior to the start of the 2018 season. The new Capelli Sport kits will feature four-year title sponsor Bank of Ann Arbor, on the front of the kit, with other sponsors still being considered for other jersey locations.

AFC Ann Arbor Chairman, Bilal Saeed sees the deal as a strategic move for the club that aligns them with one of the fastest growing brands in the sport adding, “There’s a lot of natural synergies in this relationship as we’re both young brands making a big splash in the soccer world. As Capelli continues to grow their reach across the US Soccer landscape, aligning with them gives us a strategic advantage as we continue to grow our footprint as well.”

Led by George Altirs, Capelli Sport was founded in 2011 by the GMA Group. It has quickly become an internationally recognized brand, known for its innovative sportswear and team wear, and mission to provide quality, functionality and design for high-level performance on the field.

“AFC Ann Arbor is a prime example of the type of program Capelli Sport looks to partner with,” Capelli Sport’s Sporting Manager Juan Santamaria said. “These athletes will be outfitted with gear and have access to equipment that has been designed to help them achieve their goals on the pitch.”


About Capelli Sport

In seven years of operation, Capelli Sport has become the official outfitter for a number of internationally recognized sporting organizations and clubs including, but not limited to, MSV Duisburg of Germany’s 2. Bundesliga, Penn FC of the United Soccer League, Fútbol Consultants Moravia of the Liga De Ascenso in Costa Rica, Montego Bay United FC of Jamaica’s National Premier League, and Inter Allies FC of the Ghana Premier League. Additionally, Capelli Sport outfits Panachaiki FC of the Second Division in Greece, and Deportes Temuco of the Primera División and San Luis De Quillota of the Primera División B in Chile. For more information on Capelli Sport, current partners, and how to join the team today, visit Capelli Sport, follow them on Twitter (@capellisport) and Instagram (CapelliSport), or visit the Capelli Sport Facebook page.


Mighty Oak Look to Defend Great Lakes Title in 2018

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As the returning Great Lakes Champions, Association Football Club Ann Arbor are eager to get back on the pitch to defend their title, as they enter the club’s third season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).

The 2018 NPSL (Great Lakes Conference; Midwest Region) schedule includes twelve matches in total: six home and six away.

Just as they did in 2017, The AFC Ann Arbor will open up NPSL play on the road at Milwaukee. Last year’s contest against the Torrent proved to be a physical match and challenging opener, but AFCAA prevailed with a 3-1 scoreline and three points.

The NPSL home opener brings Detroit City FC to Ann Arbor. The Mighty Oak won both regular season matches against Le Rouge in 2017 but were unable to defeat them for a third time in an epic Midwest Region Final.

The playoff format will remain the same as the 2017 season, seeing the conference’s top two teams move on to the regional playoffs. Of those six teams, the top two conference winners in the Midwest Region will receive a bye to the regional semifinals.


Compared to last year’s schedule, The Mighty Oak will play two less league games (12 instead of 14) after two teams departed the conference (Lansing United and Michigan Stars) before adding FC Columbus.

In fourteen matches last season, Ann Arbor lost just one and finished with a 12-1-1 record, going undefeated at home. With an impressive 37 points and 2.6429 points per game average, The Mighty Oak finished second in the league power rankings (out of 96 teams) and lifted their first piece of NPSL silverware as the 2017 Great Lakes Conference Champions.

At the end of last year, the club announced Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland would return to continue leading the club in its winning ways. The recruitment and assembly of 2018’s rosters has been under way for some months now and Rudland is excited for training to begin in April.

Chairman Bilal Saeed shared his thoughts on retaining Rudland, adding, “We’re lucky to have his leadership and motivation, shape the sporting culture of this club. He always talks about it being a players game and the importance of executing to get results, but it’s his mentality, dedication, professionalism and competitive spirit that puts in a position to succeed.”

AFC Ann Arbor will be releasing the complete 2018 schedule (friendlies + other competitions) in mid-February. 2018 Memberships and Flex Plans can be purchased now with single match tickets set to go on sale in late March.

Zisette Sets Sight on Domestic Deal

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AFC Ann Arbor was founded in 2015 to continue the growth of soccer in the city of Ann Arbor. As the organization continues its efforts to achieve that goal, another key pillar for the club is the outlet it provides players who are continuing to develop their game in pursuit of playing at the highest level.


Fan favorite, Sam Zisette joined AFC Ann Arbor in the summer of 2017 and immediately became a key member of The Mighty Oak’s Great Lakes Conference Championship winning side. After finishing his collegiate career at Puget Sound, Sam made stops along the way with Kitsap Pumas (PDL) and Seattle Sounders II (USL). Upon the conclusion of the 2017 NPSL season, Sam was given the second annual “Strength in the Oak” Award due to his leadership and work rate on and off the pitch. 

"Sam became a part of the AFCAA Family right away and was engaged in all our community outreach. On the pitch he was one of our most reliable defenders and played a huge role in our seven clean sheets," added Chairman, Bilal Saeed. 

After AFC Ann Arbor’s heartbreaking loss to Detroit City FC in the NPSL Midwest Region Final, Zisette immediately boarded a plane to Spain after receiving an offer to continue his career with CD Almunecar City. Almunecar City is the senior side of Malaga City Academy and is competing in tier 6 Spanish Football. As Sam has been a key role player in the clubs almost certain first ever promotion campaign, he'll be returning to the states in pursuit of a domestic deal here in the US.

Aftering being viewed as a standout in the 2017 NPSL season, Sam has accepted an offer to participate in the 2018 NPSL Soccer Showcase event this January. This fourth annual event will take place in Kissimmee, Florida and will provide Sam a great opportunity to present his resume and showcase his skills in front of various professional clubs in the states.

Zisette added, “I do reflect on what I've done so far though and have to thank Eric and everyone at AFC for the opportunities given to me there. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to play in Spain had it not been for the connection I made in Ann Arbor and how the club set me up for success. Now I hope to do AFC proud at the NPSL Showcase!”

As a born leader and standout on the field, Sam is among the club’s favorite alumni. We were able to catch up and visit with Sam as he is preparing for his return to the US in the coming weeks. His entire interview can be seen below.


Q: Was playing soccer abroad always a goal of yours? Did playing in the NPSL prepare you for play overseas?

SZ:  I have wanted to play internationally for a long time and I used to research American players playing in leagues around the world to see what they did to get there. I have always wanted to travel and live in different parts of the world and I've also always wanted to play professionally, so being able to do those both at the same time has always been the dream. NPSL definitely prepared me as it gave me a ton of experience, especially at a position (right back) that I hadn't played since I was 14.


Q: Can you describe the soccer culture there in contrast to the American soccer experiences you had growing up?

SZ: The country revolves around soccer. I loved how every little town had a team no matter what the size and most towns had multiple teams. In America, those small-town teams are popping up more and more so that is cool to see, but in Spain there is obviously much more tradition so the teams have generational fanbases. I think in 15 years or so we'll have more generational fans who grew up supporting a team so then their children follow suit and so on.


Q: Now that you are a few months removed, can you reflect on your summer here in Ann Arbor with AFC? Any thoughts or memories you'd like to share?

SZ: I had an incredible experience at AFC. The staff and owners were extremely professional and organized and all of the players held a high standard at every training and match. The commitment level across the board was amazing to see and be a part of. I have a ton of great memories from my time but the top ones would have to be most of our matches. Winning a ton of matches in front of our home fans especially the home win against Detroit in the pouring rain, celebrating the conference title in Grand Rapids, the away win in Detroit in front of so many people, and Vaughany's late free kick to seal our first playoff win. It was also really cool to see how excited the kids were to get our autographs after every game. That made me feel like we were playing for much more than just ourselves, seeing how much it meant to the community. The friendships I made and time I spent with teammates outside of the field is always something I'll remember.


Q: You had a great college career and have semi-pro stops along the way in the US as well. Now as an international player, do you have any advice for players like yourself that are here? Any advice for the future players at AFC Ann Arbor?

SZ: My first piece of advice would be to take risks and put yourself out there into new and challenging situations. That could be open tryouts, combines, or a team on the other side of the country or abroad. It was really important for me to get out of my comfort zone and test myself in a new environment and if I had shied away from some of the challenges I wouldn't have grown as much both as a soccer player and as a person.

Second piece of advice would be to engage as much as possible with everyone around you and build a network. Players, coaches, fans, anyone you come in contact with. In soccer I think you have to have the ability and be able to perform but you also sometimes need people in your corner who can vouch for you and put you in front of the right people. Most steps I've made so far have come from having built a positive relationship and then that person was willing to give me a chance.

Three Players from #AFCAAFamily Selected for 2017 Midwest Pro Soccer Combine

Kaleb Jackson ('17), James Vaughan ('16, '17) and Connor Mullen ('17) were selected for the 2017 Midwest Pro Soccer Combine

Kaleb Jackson ('17), James Vaughan ('16, '17) and Connor Mullen ('17) were selected for the 2017 Midwest Pro Soccer Combine

As the Legacy Center Sports Complex prepares for the second annual Midwest Pro Soccer Combine, this event is proud to boast a 2016 alumni group that saw 25 players sign professional contracts. Applicants come from all corners of the world with alumni including international talent as well as standouts coming from all areas of the US. What makes this event unique is the opportunity it gives players specific to the midwest region.

AFC Ann Arbor sent five players to the inaugural combine in 2016, and follows that up with 3 more attendees accepted for 2017. Two year AFC Ann Arbor midfielder (and 2017 team MVP) James Vaughan, forward Kaleb Jackson and midfielder Connor Mullen are set to participate in this year’s December showcase.

“It’s not everyday that players get the opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of pro scouts from the MLS and USL. So this is a big stage for our men to prove what they can do as they look to push on to the next level," said Eric Rudland. 

James Vaughan finishes his senior campaign at Northwood University as an NCAA division 2 all region selection as well as a three time All-GLIAC First Team honoree. He leaves the Timberwolves program ranking second all time in assists (15). AFC Ann Arbor fans know him best for his spectacular set piece ability. When on the pitch for The Mighty Oak, there was no question who would step to the spot for free kicks and whether it was a service or shot on net, he was arguably the Great Lakes Region’s most dangerous player in those moments. Vaughan became a regular starter for AFC Ann Arbor in the 2017 campaign as he improved his game as a box to box midfielder. Rudland trusted this player with the task of defending some of the nations most talented players, and Vaughan stepped up to those challenges as a leader on the Great Lakes Division Championship team.

Connor Mullen came to Ann Arbor in the summer of 2017 as a defensive midfielder and offered Coach Eric Rudland a different dynamic to The Mighty Oak midfield as a ball winning, tackle making standout. Mullen enters the MPSC after finishing his senior season at Rockhurst University. He was depended on as a midfielder and defender in their NCAA Tournament run that took them all the way to the NCAA Division 2 final four. This All-Region player has an immediate presence at a firm 6 foot 1 complimented with a soft touch that’s comfortable playing in the middle of the pitch with other skilled players.

Kaleb Jackson also enters the combine after finishing his senior season at Rockhurst University. This versatile forward earned Division 2 All-American honors making his mark as one of America’s most dangerous forwards in college. Kaleb was perhaps AFC Ann Arbor’s most valuable newcomer in 2017 and once he earned his spot in The Mighty Oak lineup he never gave up his spot in the frontline. Jackson attracted the attention of Great Lakes Conference defenders each game and was an excellent finisher as well as passer of the ball.

In the three short years of the club’s existence, The Mighty Oak have seen one player drafted to the MLS and another sign a professional deal internationally. With the level of talent within the organization growing each year, there’s no doubt the #AFCAAFamily will see more players turn professional.

About the Midwest Pro Soccer Combine

The second annual Midwest Pro Soccer Combine will take place on Monday, December 18th & Tuesday, December 19th at the Legacy Center Sports Complex in Brighton, Michigan. The combine will accept the top professional prospects to play for two days in front of professional coaches, scouts and intermediaries from North America and abroad.

Win an AFC Ann Arbor Watch

Between now and Christmas, anyone who purchases (or has purchased) a 2018 Membership will have the chance to win 1 of 10 exclusive, AFC Ann Arbor watches. Entry is free and each membership purchased will count as it's own separate entry. 

For supporters who've already purchased their 2018 Memberships, we've already picked the first three winners: 

-Ronnie Connors

-Douglas Swatosh

-Aron Dodger

The next round of winners will be announced by December 12th. 

Youth, General and Premium Memberships are now on sale starting at $59. To shop 2018 Memberships click here

12 Members of AFC Ann Arbor Family to Feature in Second Round of NCAA College Cup

Western Michigan defenders, Jake Rufe and Ben Thornton, both members of the 2017 Mighty Oak squad will start for the Broncos in Sunday's match against University of Albany  

Western Michigan defenders, Jake Rufe and Ben Thornton, both members of the 2017 Mighty Oak squad will start for the Broncos in Sunday's match against University of Albany


On Thursday, the first round of the NCAA College Cup kicked off with members of the AFC Ann Arbor Family suiting up for Colgate and University of Albany, while other players representing Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan awaited their second round opponents. 

In total, twelve members of the AFC Ann Arbor Family will feature in Sunday's Second Round of the NCAA College Cup with 3 matches taking place in state. 


University of Michigan vs Colgate University

Michigan Soccer Stadium - 5PM

With a decisive 2-0 win over UMass, Colgate advanced and will play the University of Michigan at 5PM on Sunday at Michigan Soccer Stadium. The match will have a total of 6 players from the AFCAA Family, with a special connection between 3 former Pioneer High School grads. Peter Tappenden, Chase Pagani and Tristan Jacob grew up playing together but will find themselves on the opposite side of the ball come Sunday when Jacob and the Wolverines look to advance with a win over the Raiders. 

University of Michigan: Tristan Jacob ('15, '16, '17), Kleedtke ('16, '17), Kobakof ('16, '17), Hallahan ('17) 

Colgate University: Peter Tappenden ('15, '16), Chase Pagani ('16, '17)



Western Michigan University vs University of Albany

WMU Soccer Complex - 1PM

The Broncos have been nationally ranked most of the season and have four members of the AFC Ann Arbor family on the squad. Teammates from the inaugural 2015 campaign for The Mighty Oak Jeff Medina and Jay McIntosh will reunite on opposite teams hoping to push their team on to the next round.  

Western Michigan University: Jake Rufe ('16, '17), Ben Thornton ('17), Tommy Clark ('16), Jay McIntosh ('15)

University of Albany: Jeff Medina ('15) 



Michigan State vs Virginia Tech

DeMartin Stadium - 1PM

Senior defender Jimmy Fiscus has earned a number of accolades for his leadership and performance throughout the 2017 season. The center back will look for his team to bounce back and advance over a tough Hokies side. 

Michigan State: Jimmy Fiscus ('17) 


About AFC Ann Arbor

Association Football Club Ann Arbor (AFC Ann Arbor), Washtenaw County's only semi-pro soccer team, enters its third third season in the National Premier Soccer League after securing the 2017 Great Lakes Conference Championship. 

To join the AFCAA Family and purchase your 2018 Membership click here

Rudland Renews for Two Years

Association Football Club Ann Arbor and Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, have agreed to a new 2-year deal keeping the local manager at the helm for The Mighty Oak.

“My decision to return is an easy one. We have built something special over the past two years. I think our players, supporters and the community believe that, so an opportunity to build on that momentum is really neat,” said Rudland.

Prior to the club announcing their move to the National Premier Soccer League in November 2015, Rudland joined AFC Ann Arbor after two very successful seasons with Lansing United.

In his first year with the club, Coach Rudland lead Ann Arbor to the second best record in the Great Lakes Conference in addition to earning a playoff berth. Having Rudland at the helm in the club’s first NPSL season allowed them to compete right away finishing in the top 16 in the country out of 90+ teams.

After an early exit in the 2016 playoffs, Rudland looked for his team to build off the club’s accomplishments and push on in their 2017 campaign. After winning the first Great Lakes Conference Championship in club history, AFC also won their first playoff match after defeating Dayton Dynamo 1-0, finishing in the final 8 in the country. Rudland and his team also set 12 club records in 2017 with an impressive 33 GF while only allowing 9 GA all season.

With preparations underway for the 2018 campaign, Rudland will look to continue his winning ways and build off the club’s success in 2017.

He added, “As we’re kicking off the team building process right now I'm looking forward to working with the players the most. We are targeting a blend of solid returning players & a few new additions- and making the playoffs two years in a row will definitely help with that process. The season is exciting and there is a lot of build up towards it, but at the end of the day for me it's about being on the field each day working together as a group. that is the real joy.”

When asked what supporters can expect to change in 2018, Rudland added, “Last year, my second with the club, we took some major steps forward on the football side,  specially with our training environment and the consistency of our staff. We’re hoping to keep that consistency this year and take the next step forward competitively. We'll obviously have some new players who will make an impact and we want to perform at a high level for the fans and the community. With so many good teams in the league I would say that AFC as a group will need to work even harder to maintain our place in the league. So, I wouldn't necessarily say a lot changes, however our mentality must be even stronger.”


About AFC Ann Arbor

Association Football Club Ann Arbor (AFC Ann Arbor), Washtenaw County's only semi-pro soccer team, enters its third third season in the National Premier Soccer League after securing the 2017 Great Lakes Conference Championship. 

To join the AFCAA Family and purchase your 2018 Membership click here

11 Players from AFC Ann Arbor Family Earn College Conference Championships


As the 2017 college soccer season begins to wind down, teams are wrapping (or have already finished) their regular season with conference champions being crowned across the country. Eleven players from the AFC Ann Arbor family representing four different Michigan schools have secured their conference championship. 

University of Michigan- Tristan Jacob ('15, '16 & '17), Noah Kleedtke ('16 & '17), Ryan Kobakof ('16 & '17) and Jack Hallahan ('17) 

Western Michigan University- Jake Rufe ('16 & '17), Ben Thornton ('17), Tommy Clark ('16) and Jay McIntosh ('15) 

Madonna University- Yuri Farkas ('16 & '17) and Hector Morales ('16 & '17)

Northwood University- James Vaughan ('16 & '17)


About AFC Ann Arbor

Association Football Club Ann Arbor (AFC Ann Arbor), Washtenaw County's only semi-pro soccer team, was founded in 2014 by local soccer fanatic, Jamey Amrine, with the goal of creating a community based club that would promote the game on a larger scale. 

After partnering with 8 local entrepreneurs and community members in early 2015 to form the AFC Ann Arbor Board of Directors, the club competed in the Great Lakes Premier League (now Premier League of America) during its inaugural campaign. The ownership group has expanded to 15, with 2 former professional athletes in that group including Knox Cameron (Columbus Crew) and Shane Battier (Miami Heat). 

After a successful first year, the club made two major moves in the off-season hiring Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, as well as joining the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). 

In the club's inaugural NPSL season, they finished second in the Great Lakes west conference, and were one of sixteen teams (out of 90 + teams) to secure a playoff berth. 2017 was monumental year as the club won it's first playoff game, first conference championship and broke 12 club records. The club’s fourth season kicks off in May as The Mighty Oak look to continue their winning ways in 2018. 

The Mighty Oak Team Up With Making Strides Ann Arbor


In August, AFC Ann Arbor announced its commitment in raising $5,000 for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. In addition to raising these funds for the American Cancer Society event, AFC Ann Arbor will also host The Mighty Oak Kids Zone at the October 14th walk set to take place at Washtenaw Community College.

The Mighty Oak Kids Zone will offer the younger participants a chance to meet some of their favorite players, test their soccer skills and interact with Nutmeg the Squirrel.

Senior Community Development Manager Abigail Samuels is thrilled the club has partnered with Making Strides to help raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research and programs and services to support cancer survivors and their families.

She added, “Making Strides is about bringing our community together around a cause we are passionate about--breast cancer. As a leader in Ann Arbor, AFC Ann Arbor joining Making Strides not only helps our event to more accurately reflect who we are as a community, but adds an important voice to the the vital work the American Cancer Society is doing everyday. The event is also just really fun! What better organization to help provide something new and different for kids to do!? ”

The October 14th walk begins at 10am, with registration and opening ceremonies kicking off at 9am. To join the AFC Ann Arbor team and help raise funds, click here.

In addition to sponsoring the kids zone, AFC Ann Arbor will also be sponsoring The Mighty Oak Memory Tree. Participants will have the opportunity to write a personal message on a pink ribbon to friend or family member they’ve lost to the disease, or in honor of someone fighting, before attaching it to the tree.

AFC Ann Arbor General Manager, Bilal Saeed is captaining The Mighty Oak’s Making Strides team and was eager to get more involved with the event from the beginning.

“It’s an important cause to our club and the community so we wanted to do more than just raise money for Making Strides. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help support survivors, their friends and families and other participants at Making Strides Ann Arbor,” added Saeed.


About AFC Ann Arbor

Association Football Club (AFC) Ann Arbor sprung roots in the summer of 2015 competing in the Great Lakes Premier League. In 2016, The Mighty Oak (as they’re also known) bumped up to the National Premier Soccer League to compete at an even higher level joining the likes of Lansing United and Detroit City FC. In their inaugural season in the NPSL, Ann Arbor was one of sixteen teams (out of 96) to qualify for the playoffs. In 2017, the team won the Great Lakes Conference Championship, won its first NPSL playoff match (advancing to final eight in country/Midwest Region Finals) and set 12 club records.


About Making Strides

The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks raise awareness and funds to save lives from breast cancer. Each event is a noncompetitive 3 to 5 mile walk that brings people together to make a difference for everyone who has been touched by breast cancer. The events raise money to fund innovative research, provide free information and support, and to help people reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it's most treatable.

From the opening ceremony to the post-walk entertainment, a Making Strides event is a celebration of survivors and opportunity to remember loved-ones lost. It's a day that shouldn't be missed and won't be forgotten.


Support Local Soccer Day Set for September 17th

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AFC Ann Arbor will join Michigan soccer for the 3rd straight year at Michigan Soccer Stadium for “Support Local Soccer Day,” on Sunday, September 17th at Noon vs Michigan State.

As part of the Support Local Soccer Day, The Mighty Oak will be giving away 3 framed, game worn jerseys that day. Fans can enter to win one of the frame jerseys for free in addition to taking pictures with some of the clubs trophies and meeting Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland.

Tickets for the match can be purchased online here.

2017 College Soccer Preview: The Mighty Oak Return To Campus

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It’s always an exciting time of year as the fall college season kicks off. Some of our men will be competing against one another as the season progresses, and we have a few players who will be teammates again this fall in their respective college program. For us the college season is all about cheering on our AFC men. Thanks for spending your summer with us all and all the best this fall!
— Eric Rudland

After an incredible second season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), many of The Mighty Oak players have returned to their respective campus for the college season. From Michigan to Madonna, we’ve got more info on all of our players taking the pitch this fall.

Let’s begin by taking a look at AFC Ann Arbor players who are playing collegiate soccer in-state.

(Click on school for complete schedule)


In-State Collegiate Players

Adrian College- Luke Warrick

Warrick didn’t get to see the pitch for The Mighty Oak in 2017, but was a solid contributor to the training sessions and was even asked to back up TJ Tommaso this summer. The Bulldogs compete in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and open up their season September 3rd against Augustana College of Illinois, as part of a four game home stand to begin the 2017 campaign. Finishing 3rd in the conference last year was the highest for the school since 2010 and top under the Charlie Edwards era as well (entering 4th season as head coach). Warrick will be one of three keepers looking to earn time for Adrian but his experience this summer with Ann Arbor should pave the way for his opportunity to make an impact this season.


Concordia University- Spencer Ward

Another Ann Arbor keeper will be playing his college ball in the area after transferring from Coastal Carolina. Ward who was the primary backup for Tomasso in 2017, saw action in 3 matches. The third of those matches, Ward was called to start and earned his first clean sheet as a National Premier Soccer League starting goalkeeper. As a transfer, the experience Ward picked up this summer will allow him to compete for serious action right away. The Cardinals season kicks off Saturday, August 26th at home vs Indiana University-East.


Madonna University- Yuri Farkas, Hector Morales

Morales who spent last fall at Schoolcraft has joined AFC Ann Arbor teammate and friend, Yuri Farkas for the Crusaders 2017 campaign. Both players have been major contributors to The Mighty Oak in both 2016 and 2017. The two, along with Dario Suarez, began calling themsleves el Tridente because of the natural chemistry and dominat play between the three in the final third of the pitch. Taking this chemistry into NAIA play, the two will look to help Madonna improve upon their 4th place finish in WHAC play last season.

In addition, defender Godfrey Kegode, who has featured in matches for Ann Arbor in all three seasons so far, will be returning as an anchor to a solid Crusader backline.

Madonna kicks off their regular season at home, Friday, August 25th at 6PM vs Goshen College.

*Head Coach Eric Rudland and Assistant Coach Boyzzz Khumalo both enter their 5th season as assistant coaches at Madonna University.


Michigan State University- Jimmy Fiscus

Fiscus made club history this season as the first Spartan to wear the oak on his chest. He made his presence felt immediately for AFC as he was a regular in one of the strongest backline’s in the entire NPSL. The spectacular play this season earned him Third-Team All-NPSL and expectations for his contribution at MSU aren’t far off. Ranked 22nd in the nation and picked to finish 4th in the B1G (preseason poll) conference, with Fiscus earning preseason conference honors as well.

The 2016 Spartans only allowed 17 goals in 20 games in one of the toughest divisions in college soccer. As the only Michigan State player to play every minutes in the 2016 season, to say his impact was massive might still be an understatement.

The regular season begins on the road for MSU as they take on SIUE at 8PM this Friday.


Northwood University- James Vaughan

With such a balanced mix in the attack this summer, 10 games into the season there was no clear cut MVP for The Mighty Oak. Vaughan joined a number of players who played exceptional from the beginning of the season, but it was truly a team effort. But as the season progressed, and matches became more meaningful, Vaughan calmly stepped up and became the go-to playmaker Ann Arbor was looking to solidify. Finishing the season with 5 goals and 4 assists, Vaughan not only had a more than memorable summer, but gained a great deal of confidence for an already superb player.

Heading into the fall, he’ll make a massive impact for the Timberwolves as they look to dethrone the dominant SVSU program lead by Andy Wagstaff.

Northwood opens up their season, September 1st on the road vs Maryville.


Saginaw Valley State University - Jake Rosen

Rosen enters his first season with SVSU after trasnferring from Schoolcraft where he was team captain and earned MCCAA Honorable Mention. Having spent two season with Ann Arbor as one of the youngest rostered players, fans have had the opportunity to watch Rosen mature and grow as a player the past two summers. Rosen enters this season more prepared than ever and will make impact for a very competitive Andy Wagstaff team.

The Cardinals kick off the 2017 campaign Friday, September 1st at Quincy.  


Spring Arbor University- Baba Valdmanis

The Ann Arbor native transferred to Spring Arbor University (from WMU) and will immediately impact a Nate Miller (Lansing United Head Coach) lead team this fall. Valdmanis trained with some top talent in Ann Arbor this summer preparing him for a bright future with the Cougars.


University of Michigan- Jack Hallahan

Hallahan spent only the early part of the 2017 campaign with Ann Arbor but made a name for himself quickly as the winger’s cheeky, quality first touches opened up play creating a number of goal scoring opportunities for The Mighty Oak.

As noted by Michigan Soccer Now, “...All-Freshman returner, Jack Hallahan should bring the needed flare back to this year’s team.” Expect to see him create a lot of chances in the attacking phase of the match and doing so with style.


Western Michigan University- Jake Rufe, Ben Thornton

Two of Chad Wiseman’s Broncos spent their summer in Ann Arbor, one as a returner and one new to the organization. Jake Rufe, recipient of the 2017 Iron Man Award, was a key returner for The Mighty Oak who was looking to improve upon last year’s early playoff exit. Rufe’s leadership, aggressive play and dedication to the club helped forge the club forward earning their first NPSL playoff win along with breaking 13 club records in 2017. Rufe returns to a very talented Western Michigan team that will look to dethrone the almighty Akron come MAC playoff time.

Ben Thornton was new to AFC Ann Arbor in 2017 but wasted no time in proving his stellar defensive talents and earning him a spot in the Starting XI. Thornton was a reliable, center back that brought depth and consistency to a backline that allowed only 9 goals in 14 regular season matches. If he continues to play the way he did for The Mighty Oak this summer, Thornton will have his best year yet at WMU.

The Broncos season begins September 4th when they host the University of Cincinnati in Kalamazoo.


Out-of-State Collegiate Players

American International College- Jake Durham

Durham came to Ann Arbor after completing a very successful freshman campaign with AIC. Scoring 7 goals in addition to 4 assists was quite the accomplishment for the young midfielder from England, but Durham has big expectations for the upcoming season. Having trained with some veteran players this summer in Ann Arbor, Durham not only contributed to an AFC side that secured the Great Lakes Conference Championship, but he gained valuable experience that should help his point total and team results improve this fall.


Colgate- Chase Pagani

Chase Pagani stepped up in big ways every time his name was called as a sub in ‘17 a role he became familiar with in one of Colgate’s most successful season’s to in 2016. Pagani was a significant contributor playing in 16 matches (5 of which he started) last fall but will most likely find himself in a regular starting role for the Raiders this season.

Along with former Pioneer classmate and AFC Ann Arbor teammate Peter Tappenden, Pagani and team will look to repeat as Patriot League Champions in 2017.

Iowa Western CC- Kwesi Allen

A spark of energy and flare late in The Mighty Oak’s season came compliments of Kwesi “Jep” Allen. After battling an early season injury, Allen fought hard to earn time but found himself becoming a key substitute for Rudland’s side down the stretch. He’s flat out dangerous because of his ability to move upfield quickly in the attacking phase with his long strides and having a strong left only helps his ability to confuse defenders and create quality goal scoring opportunities.

Allen will complete one final season with Iowa CC before deciding where to transfer to as he will have two years of eligibility left after 2017. With a number of division 1 schools lining up, expect a showcase season for Allen looking to make a name for himself at the next level.


Loyola Chicago- Alec Lasinski  

The recipient of the club’s Hometown Hero award, Lasinski stepped up in the biggest of situations for Ann Arbor this past season. Two of his most memorable moments came with a game-winning goal in Detroit on July 11th as well as the second goal in the Midwest Region Finals that tied things up at 2-2 with DCFC while playing with only 10 men. You would think from the way he responded in pressure situations that Lasinski was a more seasoned player, but the young striker has only scratched the surface of his budding career.

As a sophomore, Lasinski lead the Ramblers in scoring and was second on the team in overall points. Entering his junior campaign, Loyola fans have a lot to be excited about as Lasinski brings a great deal of confidence with him from an offseason where he accomplished so much with AFC Ann Arbor, and as an individual.


Rockhurst- Kaleb Jackson, Conor Mullen  

Teammates Kaleb “KJ” Jackson and Conor Mullen have played together for a long time. The two went to high school together, play at Rockhurst together and both even earned NSCAA Scholar All-American awards during their junior season.

Although they’ve played together so long, the two players bring different talents to the pitch, both of immense value to Rockhurst. Jackson, the leading goal scorer and top point earner for the Hawks, only started in 14 games tallying just over 1,200 minutes of play. Mullen on the other hand was kept off the scoresheet but tallied 23 starts and 2,000 plus minutes that were felt in other ways than points.

The two will look to finish their college seasons strong with their senior campaign kicking off on the road, Thursday the 31st of August.


Seton Hill- Colin Watson

Watson will be coming off an ACL surgery after he injured it at home vs FC indiana on June 24th. The English native enters junior season with the Griffins and could be fit enough by mid-fall to get back on the pitch. As Watson continues his physical therapy into the fall, the defender would help the Griffins improve on their 12-8 season in 2016.


Season Tree Celebration Set for August 11th

AFC Ann Arbor will host an end of the season event at Pretzel Bell on Friday, August 11th from 7 to 9pm. Friday evening will serve as a chance for owners, coaches and players to meet and share stories about the memorable 2017 campaign. 

Fans who attend are subject to win some awesome prizes featuring the grand prize of a framed game-worn Bank of Ann Arbor White Kit from the historic 2017 season.  

The event will also be the Ann Arbor fans’ first chance to get their picture taken with the Great Lakes Conference Championship trophy.

Light appetizers will be provided, but drinks will not be included. Admission is free, and to enter the giveaway you simply need to RSVP on the Facebook event and be present next Friday to claim your prize. The event will take place in the "Captain's Room" which can be accessed through it's own private entrance at 224 S. Main St. 

2017 Season Recap: AFC Family Roots Grow Deeper

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Winning the Conference Championship is definitely something to build on and a great step for our organization.
— Eric Rudland, Head Coach & Sporting Director

When Association Football Club Ann Arbor joined the National Premier Soccer League in 2016, they wasted little time in proving their will and ability to compete at a high level. But in a league that consistently has over 90+ teams competing in it each summer, making it to the final 16 was something no one expected outside of the organization.

For certain members of The Mighty Oak, exiting the playoffs early in 2016 was something that stuck with them for an entire year. Twelve players from that team returned to Ann Arbor for the 2017 campaign in the pursuit of national championship including James Vaughan, Matthieu Braem, Jake Rufe, Hector Morales, Yuri Farkas, Dario Suarez, Colin Watson, Leigh, Rumbold, Jake Rosen, Adrian Motta and Zach & Chase Pagani.

After a very successful first season in the NPSL, Ann Arbor had caught the eye of certain players from the 2015 team as well. Four players returned after spending 2016 with different teams including TJ Tommaso, Kyle Breitmeyer, Alec Lasinski and Amadou Cisse.

These players, along with the group of new recruits brought in by Head Coach & Sporting Director Eric Rudland and staff, were focused on continuing the clubs winning ways and improving on the club’s inaugural NPSL campaign. Rudland has quickly established a winning mentality in a professional environment which set the tone from the first day of training.

The Mighty Oak’s 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, Matthieu “Frenchy” Braem was a key returner as he not only wore the captain’s armband but also played a crucial role in the defensive schematic.  

“The 2016 returners were the core of our group in 2017 and really the catalysts for our success. Not only were they great on the pitch but they were so hungry to win, train hard and push the football side of our club forward. I will forever be grateful to them for coming back as returners. Obviously Frenchy, as our captain, was top man. You could see how much this club means to him after the Midwest Region Finals match, and players who care the way he does do not come around every day. I would say that's true for most of our returners though, they have a special draw toward AFC and the feeling is reflected back to them in the way that we try to structure our environment to look after them. There were a number of other returners that played a critical role for as well. Hopefully we will be talking about a lot of these men coming back to us in 2018,” said Rudland.

“For us the 2017 team building process was all about bringing in players who were determined to win and committed to the process of training daily and make progress as a player. We had a lot of special individuals, who collective came together and produced fantastic results game in and game out,” he added.


AFC Family

I think the coaches do a great job of picking players that will fit right in to the family environment.
— TJ Tomasso, GK (2017 Defensive MVP)

From day 1, Ann Arbor set out to build something special for the community and with the hiring of Coach Rudland and joining the NPSL, the AFC Family was born. Not only is the match day atmosphere at Hollway built around families, but within the organization, the team, the coaches and support staff build a bond that is unique to The Mighty Oak. A love for the city is born from players who had never visited Ann Arbor before. A connection made with the community with strength that was never expected. And a bond incomparable that turns strangers to brothers in just four months. 

One of the leaders on the team, former MLS goalkeeper and the club's Defensive MVP in 2017, TJ Tommaso, has played for many teams during his storied career but none as close and unified as this team as he describes. 

"For me it starts with the ownership an coaches and filters down from there. A lot must be said about the type of players brought in. Not only talented players but really good people off the field. I think the coaches do a great job of picking players that will fit right in to the family environment. It's super cool to see how involved the owners and coaches are in every aspect of the club. And right next to them are their significant others and kids helping out with everything. It's a total group effort which really shows how much people care about each other and this club. Players can see and feel that which keeps filtering through," said Tomasso. 

Captain, Matthieu Braem added, "I think that it's just a mentality from the organization as a whole. The owners are showing us the path, while Coach Eric recruits players he knows will fit within this tight knit family. While looking at players he focuses not only on soccer but also on the players' mentality, and finds who will put the club above their own personal desires."



There is no better word to describe The Mighty Oak’s Midwest Region Finals loss to Detroit City FC other than heartbreaking. But when compared to the fact that DCFC is in their 6th season of the NPSL compared to Ann Arbor’s 2nd, there’s no doubt that AFC is on the fast track to success.

2017 was filled with great success including a Great Lakes Conference Championship, 2018 US Open Cup bid and Michigan Milk Cup. The team broke virtually every record set by a very talented 2016 team.

“We said all off-season that we wanted to take the next step competitively as an organization and win our first play-off match after losing in 2016, and we accomplished that, which is great, but it's still devastating that we didn't push on further. Winning the Conference Championship is definitely something to build on and a great step for our organization,” added Rudland.


Month by Month review of the season


An action packed month to start the season kept things busy for The Mighty Oak in the month of May. Almost half of the regular season matches would be played this month, but Ann Arbor started out with a huge road win against a tough, experienced Milwaukee side.

May Numbers

5-0-2 // 15 pts (Includes Open Cup)

11 Goals For; 4 Goals Against

5 different goal scorers

3 clean sheets

Immediately after the first league match of the year, preparations began for the first US Open Cup match in club history against the veteran Michigan Bucks side. Although Ann Arbor’s first appearance in the tournament was strong, the result didn’t go their way as the Bucks capitalized on a defensive miscommunication to advance 1-0.

After a pair of wins over Kalamazoo FC in the next two matches, Ann Arbor was 3-0-0 with 9 points prior to hosting Detroit City FC at home.  

2016 team MVP Dario Suarez was in top form scoring 4 goals in just 3 matches. Suarez continued his amazing play adding two more goals against Detroit for a 2-0 victory keeping them atop the conference table.

Ann Arbor would drop their only regular season match of 2017 at Lansing United (0-2) on May 26th.  In addition, forward Dario Suarez was suspended for 6 months, after being shown a straight red for referee assault.

With Suarez’s impressive start to the season, many saw this suspension as a blow to Ann Arbor’s season and counted them out of any serious contention as Lansing began to gain momentum.  

In the very next match, Ann Arbor went down 1-0 to Grand Rapids FC at home, and for the first time gave use a glimpse of what was to come as soon as the second half kicked off. A new energy was found and The Mighty Oak fought back to earn a 2-1 result getting things back on track.



In the four matches in June, AFC went 3-1-0 adding another 10 points to their total. The men had responded to the challenge and showed that this was possibly one of the deepest rosters in the entire NPSL.

June Numbers


3-1-0 // 10 points

15 Goals For; 3 Goals Against

8 different goal scorers

This month was special as the team began to click in a way that the chemistry building between the men was evident. 

Twice the club set records this month for most goals in a game (5)  and largest margin of victory (5). Collectively, the group scored 15 goals and conceded only 3 this month, while introducing 6 new goal scorers to the mix.



The Mighty Oak had a tough home stretch schedule to get through before they could begin thinking about postseason play. With four remaining matches, Ann Arbor went out and earned four tough wins finishing the month without dropping a point and picking up an additional 12 points.

July Numbers

5-0-1 // 12 points (1-1 in playoffs)

10 Goals For; 5 Goals Against

7 different goal scorers

3 clean sheets

The month featured a fantastic win over Lansing United to avenge their only loss of the season as well as tough road victory over Detroit City FC.

The club secured the Great Lakes Conference Championship in addition to lifting the Michigan Milk Cup and entered the NPSL Midwest Region Playoffs with a No. 1 ranking.

After a thrilling 90’+ goal from James Vaughan in the Midwest Region Semifinal, Ann Arbor fell to Detroit City FC in a valiant comeback effort (down a man and 3 goals) that fell just short in the Finals. 



US Open Cup Match (5.10.17)

NPSL Playoff Win (7.28.17 vs Dayton Dynamo FC 1-0)

NPSL Great Lakes Conference Championship

NPSL Midwest Region Final Appearance (7.29.17)

Michigan Milk Cup

Season Totals

13-1-2 overall  

37 points

36 goals scored

24 goal differential

13 different goal scorers

8 clean sheets

Club Records

(5) Largest Margin of Victory (6.6.17 vs MSFC and 6.24.17 vs FC Indiana)

(5) Most Goals in a match ((6.6.17 vs MSFC and 6.24.17 vs FC Indiana)

(37) Most Points in a season

(12) Most Wins in a season

(10) Undefeated matches in a row

(8) Most Clean Sheets in a season

(35) Most goals in a season

(13) Most goal scorers in a season

(25) Most assists in a season

(8) Consecutive Unbeaten Matches at Hollway Field

(#2) Highest National Ranking (NPSL Power Rankings) 

(2.64) Highest PPG for a season

Late Goal Lifts Detroit Past Ann Arbor in Midwest Region Championship

AFC Ann Arbor lost 3-2 in the NPSL Midwest Regional Championship in Hamtramck on Saturday night in dramatic fashion at Keyworth Stadium.

The match started brightly for both sides, though Detroit had the better opportunities in the early going. After going back and forth for much of the first half, it was Detroit, who took advantage on 35 minutes. Detroit’s Jordan Tyler pounced on a loose ball in the box following a corner and put the hosts up 1-0.

10 minutes later on the stroke of half-time Omar Sinclair curled a free kick in past TJ Tomasso to double Detroit’s advantage heading into the half.

The Mighty Oak weren’t going down without a fight, however. With a 2-0 deficit to over turn, Coach Rudland made a triple substitution, brining on Alec Lasinski, Jesse Muskwe and Kwesi “Jep” Allen in the 54th minute.

Jep’s appearance was short lived, however, after he was shown a straight red card in the 66th minute for a strong tackle.

Down to 10 men, Coach Rudland again looked to the bench, brining on David Cross, and switching to a 3-at-the-back system. It was left-back turned winger Tendai Jirira who gave AFC a lifeline in the 75th minute.

He beat several defenders, snuck in on the right wing and buried the ball in the back of the net to make it 2-1.

Just 6 minutes later it was substitute David Cross’ ball from the half-way line that Alec Lasinski latched on to. Lasinski took a touch, picked his spot, and fired the ball past the Detroit keeper to level the match, 2-2.

Following several lengthy stoppages for injuries, the referee added on 6 minutes at the end of the game, and with time winding down, Detroit struck.

Striker Tyrone Mondi received the ball on the right wing on the counter attack. His deflected effort found a way to sneak past Tomasso in net, giving Detroit a 3-2 lead.

There was only a minute or two remaining and The Mighty Oak pressed hard to grab an equalizer. However, things went from bad to worse in the final minute when a shoving match resulted in Jake Rufe seeing his second yellow card, leaving Ann Arbor with 9 men to finish the match.

In the end, the lead held, and Detroit City FC came away with a 3-2 victory over AFC Ann Arbor in the NPSL Midwest Regional Championship match.

"It's always tough to go down a goal, let alone 2, and then go down a man, especially on the road in a championship match. When you look at it, what else could have gone wrong? But, given the circumstances the groups collective mentality to claw back into the game was tremendous. To be fair though we've seen that same determination from the men all year," said Head Coach Eric Rudland.