AFCAA Take a Point in Detroit

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Nil-nil games sometimes end scoreless because lack in ambition. Not Friday night at Keyworth. AFC Ann Arbor played Detroit City to a 0-0 in a match that saw plenty of brilliant saves and loads of drama. The two in-state rivals played a spirited match with a couple of crunching tackles and opportunities on dead balls, but in the end neither side could get the winner.

AFC got the first chance in the tenth minute from a lovely move by Jack Hallahan. The Englishman wove his way in and out the Detroit defense all night and it started early in the match with a shot that forced a tip save over the bar from Owen Finnerty. Ten minutes later, it was Ian McGrane’s turn to be the hero in goal as he made a strong punching save on an out-of-the-box hit. McGrane and the AFCAA back line held firm on the corner kick that ensued, as well as a couple others prior to it.

From this point it was Detroit City who owned possession for the first half. Shawn Lawson nodded a long shot home, but he was offside. McGrane again had to make a big save in a one-on-one in the 34th and once more the corner was cleared. The Mighty Oak could settle down for the rest of the half and continue holding the clean sheet as they went back into the dressing room.

The first ten minutes of the second half were again dominated by Detroit City. AFC would win a corner thanks to a run down the right wing by Henry Ramirez, but nothing could come of it. Then, in the last half-hour, the game opened up entirely. Alex Alexis and Jack Hallahan forced a couple of necessary interventions from Finnerty in the Detroit net, but at the other end DCFC countered with a penalty won when Ben Thornton took down a DCFC man in the box. Lawson stepped up to take it, made a nice move to force McGrane to guess wrong, but drilled the post and the ball would go out of play for a goal kick.

The next ten minutes saw AFCAA get three clear cut chances. Hallahan would beat the keeper with a nice left-footed effort, but the shot went just a hair wide in the 68th minute. Then in the 71st, Hallahan again beat the keeper but it was Jalen Crisler there to make a miracle goal line clearance to keep the score line at zeroes. Finally, off the corner kick, Matt Braem, who was stellar in defense all night, saw his looping header hit the bar and go out for a goal kick.

More chances would come for The Mighty Oak, but those three were the most glorious. In the last couple minutes of the match, though, McGrane would need to come up big (quite literally) again with an unreal double save. McGrane stood on his head all night and this was yet another time he helped keep the first clean sheet for AFCAA this season. The Mighty Oak only got one point, but it was well-earned and hard-fought.

It took some time to settle into the game, nearly the full first half, and a penalty scare shook AFCAA fans surely, but the chances created were certainly worthy of at least one goal. Jack Hallahan was unbelievably dangerous all night, whether on the wing or centrally, and Amadou Cisse was able to be an impact sub on the wing once again. It was truly a team effort in all aspects, and The Mighty Oak will look to build off this positive performance into their next game – where they welcome Michigan Stars to Concordia on Memorial Day at 3 PM.


Milk Means More Match Preview: AFC Ann Arbor at Detroit City FC

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AFC Ann Arbor hit the road once again as they take the trip down I-94 to square off with their closest rivals Detroit City FC for the first of their two meetings this season. The Mighty Oak are finishing off an opening portion of the season that sees them play three of their first four matches on the road, and will hope to improve to a 100% winning percentage away from home. On the season, AFCAA are 2-0-1 and coming off a 3-1 victory in Columbus last Friday.

The victory last Friday saw a couple early brilliant long-range finishes from Jack Hallahan and Sebastian Chalbaud, before Yazeed Matthews finished with a third against the ten-man FC Columbus side. Jordan Montoya, who came off the bench last match, remains the team’s top goal-scorer thanks to his two-goal season opener against Michigan Stars. The goal scorers each found the back of the net in what was their first starts of the season in blue and white, and the first starts of their career for AFCAA in the case of Matthews and Chalbaud.

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A win at Keyworth Stadium would put AFC on the same point total at this point last season, with ten out of their first twelve possible points. This fixture last season was a 1-0 victory thanks to a Chris Odhiambo finish in the 54th minute. Of players that featured that day, Montoya, Stephen Turnbull, and Breno Stapcinkas all will hope to feature again this season.

The Mighty Oak have plenty of history in Detroit. They are 2-0-1 at Keyworth in the NPSL regular season of the NPSL including snagging a point in the first ever NPSL match to be played at the home of Le Rouge. Having held DCFC goalless in 180 minutes in 2018, they will hope to do the same this season, while securing their first clean sheet of 2019.

The Opponent

Detroit City are 1-1-0 to open the season, having split their first two matches, both common fixtures of The Mighty Oak. City opened the season with a 1-0 victory on the road at Michigan Stars before falling in a thrilling 3-2 home opener to Kalamazoo FC. Shawn Lawson has scored in both of the first two games while Max Todd chipped in a goal as well. The soon-to-be NPSL Founder’s Cup side will look to make amends for stumbling in a rainy Sunday night home opener and right the ship, while The Mighty Oak will intend on spoiling the party.

Detroit’s last starting eleven (4-3-3): Nate Steinwascher, Kervin Kenton, Jalen Crisler, Moussa Gueye, Will Perkins, Bakie Goodman, Abdoulaye Diop, Max Todd, Tommy Buono, Shawn Lawson, Cyrus Saydee



Milk Means More Match Previews: AFC Ann Arbor vs Lansing United & at Michigan Legends

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The AFC Ann Arbor women have their first ever back-to-back as they kick off twice this weekend over a nineteen-hour period. The Mighty Oak will be at home Friday the 24th at 6 PM to take on Lansing United before making the trip to Canton to take on Michigan Legends Saturday the 25th at 1 PM, as a showcase match for the Canton Cup youth tournament. Tickets for the home match at Concordia University are on sale online and will also be available at the gate Friday.

The Mighty Oak are coming off their first-ever home match, which resulted in the first win in the women’s inaugural season. Last Friday saw them top a very-talented Grand Rapids FC side by a score of 5-2. AFCAA jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the match, but allowed GRFC to equalize 2-2 by halftime. The women were ready for the second half, however, as Rachael Sweigard finished her hat trick and Suzuho Yamasaki put the exclamation point on the match with a stunner from 45 yards out to give AFC a 5-2 victory and all three points.

The offense is off to a hot start in the UWS for the women as they have scored seven goals in the first two matches. Aside from Sweigard’s hat trick, the other four goals have been spread out to four other scorers. The next step for The Mighty oak is to secure their first clean sheet, which they would certainly love to do as they enter a two-game stretch with a pair of very strong teams.

This will be the first back-to-back of Andy Pritchard’s career, and fans are almost assuredly going to see some changes between match one and two of the weekend. The question then becomes for AFC’s head man what he wants to show his first opposing side of the weekend. With both matches coming in short order over the weekend, keeping the players fit and focused has to be priority number one.

The Opposition

Lansing United are currently 2-0-0 to start the 2019 campaign, as we look forward to the women’s rivalry taking the place of what was a thrilling rivalry previously between the men’s sides. Lansing topped Grand Rapids FC 2-1 at home to kick off the year, then took three points on the road from Detroit Sun in a 3-2 thriller where despite falling behind twice, they would come back to find a winner in the 67th minute. They will look to take another three points to open the season and are sure to give The Mighty Oak a tough fight. Also, of note, is the fact that Lansing took the 2018 UWS Midwest title as they nudged GRFC out by a point.

Michigan Legends have played just two match this season, and found much difficulty against Indiana Union as they fell 5-0 on the road, before getting their first win of the season in the Michigan Milk Cup, this past Monday, against AAFC Lumberjills. Legends finished 5-2-3 last season, good for fourth in the division, and key members of that team included current AFC women Megan Trapp and Jenna Smith. The familiarity that some of the women may have with these Midwest foes is sure to make for an entertaining match full of players that know each other well.



Milk Cup Fixture Dates & Times Announced for Men's and Women's Quarterfinals

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AFC Ann Arbor’s quarter-final opponents for the Michigan Milk Cup has been confirmed for both the men’s and women’s competition. BiH GR defeated Bafana United in a first-round match in the men’s tournament, while for the women it was North Oakland topping Livonia City. The quarter-final bouts will both take place at Concordia, home of The Mighty Oak. The men’s QF will be on May 30th while the women’s match will take place June 4th. It will be a pair of first-time meetings as while AFCAA fans certainly know about the inaugural women’s season, this is also year one of the men’s opponent, BiH GR, as well.

This is the third season of the Michigan Milk Cup, but the first year of the women’s competition. When it comes to the men’s cup, however, AFC Ann Arbor have been able to find a great deal of success in the prior two competitions. The Mighty Oak became the inaugural champions in 2017 when the competition was formatted in a double round-robin that took place throughout the NPSL season. In 2018, the competition shifted to a single-elimination tournament with eight teams. AFCAA knocked out Oakland County FC over two legs and Kalamazoo FC in an away semifinal, before falling to Lansing United in the final.

“We’re happy to participate in the Michigan Milk Cup again in 2019,” said head coach Eric Rudland. “It has been best to see the tournament evolve from year to year as it unifies competitive amateur teams across the state of Michigan.” On the opponent, Rudland said, “We don’t know a ton about BiH at the moment, but we know they are a respectable side with a good coach and a core group of veteran players.” He also added that he looks forward to the competition outside of just NPSL league play to close out the month of May.

The 2019 Men’s Michigan Milk Cup has been expanded to feature twelve teams instead of just eight. AFCAA were allowed a berth to the quarter-finals alongside Grand Rapids FC, Kalamazoo FC (both NPSL), and Flint City Bucks (USL League Two). AFCAA found their opponent out after a 6-0 victory on the road for the newest addition to the UPSL over Bafana United (MPSL). This match will be the seventh match of the season for AFCAA, with five NPSL matches and a USOC match confirmed to occur before this one in the month of May.

The 2019 Women’s Michigan Milk Cup features nine teams, which was knocked down to eight following the first round ‘play-in’ game that saw North Oakland topple Livonia City 6-1. The competition will feature four teams that AFCAA will see in UWS league play: Detroit Sun, Michigan Legends, Lansing United, and Grand Rapids FC.

“Every game that we play in is a good test to see what we have here at AFC Ann Arbor in our first year playing. We know we have some fantastic individuals and great personalities that are working hard, looking to improve and gel as a team.  North Oakland look like they have a team that counter quickly and also have individuals that can break teams down. It should make for an exciting game,” said Women’s Head Coach Andy Pritchard.

“It's great to be a part of the Milk Cup this year, I got to see a mens game last year and there's a different type of feeling when you play a knockout competition rather than league games. We're glad the Milk Cup added a women's side this year as it will make the season even more exciting,” added Pritchard.

General, Youth and Premium members will receive free admission to these matches. Family and Flex tickets will also be accepted. Individual match tickets are on sale online at AFCAnnArbor.com/tickets, and can also be purchased at the gate.

About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be coached by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community. Tickets can be purchased here or check out our official online team store here.

Mami Yamaguchi Presented with First TMOYP Women's Coaching Scholarship

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A Japanese national team player, one of the most decorated female collegiate soccer athletes in history, and now, the inaugural goal scorer for AFC Ann Arbor. Mami Yamaguchi has been all over the world and seen just about anything you could imagine as a player. Now, though, with the help of The Mighty Oak Youth Project, she will begin her coaching career as well. TMOYP is pleased to gift Yamaguchi their first ever women’s coaching scholarship. Founded in 2018, TMOYP has already been providing youth scholarships to local players. With their reach broadening, though, and the women’s team now in place, expansion to helping more AFCAA-affiliated women coach the sport they love is the next team for helping the community grow.

Yamaguchi’s journey is an incredible story and her experience and love for the community makes her a natural pick for this scholarship. Yamaguchi won the MAC Hermann Trophy, awarded to the top male and female collegiate soccer player in the year, in 2007 while playing with Florida State. The award had been earned by the likes of Mia Hamm, Canadian national team captain Christine Sinclair, and American internationals Aly Wagner and Cat Whitehill. From there, Yamaguchi would be capped eighteen times with the Japanese national team, including all throughout the 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which allowed the Japanese women to qualify for the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

The winding road, with plenty of interesting and exciting stops, has now moved into Ann Arbor. When talking about how she became interested in the club, it was all about the personal connection she felt to the people. “I got attracted to the people of the club,” Yamaguchi told AFCAA. “Megan [Trapp] approached me to play with AFCAA. People were also telling me good things about the coaching staff and the organization. After I met Andy and Barry, I felt right to play for them.” She also noted that this was a great next step for her coaching career as well. “Although I’ve had fulfilling experience as a player, as a coach, I’m still a greenhorn,” she admitted. “I’m excited to learn from the coaching staff who have good coaching experience and knowledge of the game.”

The interesting part of Yamaguchi’s coaching tale is that at first, Yamaguchi, as so many great players struggle with at first, found different road blocks. With such high expectations on herself, Yamaguchi said about herself, “I mean I couldn’t coach at all.” When talking about what was difficult about the process, she said, “It wasn’t because of the language, I just had no idea how to coach, how to see the game from the outside of the field,” which is often an issue when great players in any sport take up coaching. This adjustment process has been a driving force for her though as she enters another year of coaching. She hopes to continue to overcome any of this lingering frustration and push on to become an always-improving coach.

Interestingly enough, Yamaguchi shared, playing and coaching are two entirely different beasts. She expanded upon that:

“For example, when I play, I don’t think, I just react and play with my instincts. And most of things are just on the field. For coaching, there are a lot of things to prepare before/ after practice & games both on and off the field. You need to be capable of seeing the whole game, and guiding both the team and players. You interact with players, team, parents, and people around. It’s a management.”

As a coach, her playing ability then allows her to demonstrate what she asks of her players. “I was fortune to have great coaches for my playing career,” she said, talking about how she has been able to get to the level of play that she has seen over her career. “Hopefully I can maximize the knowledge I’ve gained from the coaches and my playing experience for my future coaching career,” she would add.

On receiving the scholarship, Yamaguchi was beyond thankful. “I appreciate for this opportunity very much. I feel strong support from the community for the women’s team,” she said, truly feeling the love that the AFCAA supporters have provided the women’s team. With an eye on the future of the sport in the area, she talked about her ideal focus, saying, “I would like to maximize coaching knowledge and experience I would gain here for youth development.”

What about that first ever goal? “It was a good ball from Devyn, and I was composed to finish 1v1 against their GK,” said Yamaguchi, ever-willing to give praise to her teammates. Saying she was “very honored” to score the first ever goal, she was, however, disappointed about the result of the game. “I wanted to win the game badly,” she said. Well, with a 5-2 victory over Grand Rapids FC now on the books as the first ever victory for the women, things are looking brighter and brighter for Yamaguchi and The Mighty Oak as a whole.

About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be coached by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community. Tickets can be purchased here or check out our official online team store here.


Ann Arbor Take Three Points From Trip to Columbus

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It was a lovely evening in Columbus as not only was it 78 and mostly sunny at Ohio Dominican University, but on that pitch The Mighty Oak took care of business and beat FC Columbus 3-1 to take all three points back home. A pair of early first half goals were responded to well by their opposing side, but a sending off and eventual third in the second half spelt victory for AFCAA.

The first ten minutes saw AFCAA taking early control with possession, and even a solid half chase thanks to an Alex Alexis shot from a tight angle in the fifth minute. In the eleventh minute, though, it was a moment of magic from Jack Hallahan. On the right wing, Hallahan cut inside from outside the box and drilled a shot past FC Columbus keeper David Abonce Rodriguez. The keeper stood no chance and it was a well-taken hit from the wide-man.

AFCAA would double their lead thanks to Sebastian Chalbaud in the 23rd minute. Off an attempted corner clearance, Columbus could only send it as far as Chalbaud. He hit it off the volley and once again, the keeper was beaten. It was sheer brilliance from The Mighty Oak’s newest man in midfield. Unfortunately for AFC, the two-goal lead would not last long as Jonatan Paniagua found the back of the net from about 25 yards out on a free kick.

The goal from the home side made for a suspenseful end of the half, and Ian McGrane was even tested in net by Damani Camara, but the lead would hold up until the halftime whistle.

Columbus was hit with an injury-forced sub on Camara and a red card (the second yellow) on their goal scorer within the first five minutes of the second half. While the red card and loss of a key attacker did not slow Columbus at first, the vulnerability was there. Jake Rufe was played through by Alex Alexis, but Rodriguez was up for it in net.

In the 76th minute, AFC found that much-desired insurance goal. Jarred Dass had a shot deflected in the box, but the deflection went straight to Yazeed Matthews. The big striker merely had to tap it home as Rodriguez had already began diving in anticipation of Dass’s attempt. The goal was all AFC needed to see out a positive result. From then on, despite a lengthy stoppage time period, The Mighty Oak were able to control possession and keep opposing chances to a minimum.

Against a strong FC Columbus side, AFCAA were able to start off hot with a couple of wonderful goals. From there, strong defense against pacey attackers was key in maintaining a lead over their foes. Ultimately, The Mighty Oak will be happy to walk out with all three points and feel that they were well-deserved. The Mighty Oak men are in action next Friday again on the road against Detroit City FC. They will hope to continue their winning ways away from home at Keyworth Stadium.



Milk Means More Match Preview: AFC Ann Arbor at FC Columbus

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Match Day Roster

AFC Ann Arbor travel down to Columbus to take on FC Columbus in their third NPSL match of the season. This is Columbus’s opening match of the NPSL season and the Friday evening travel for The Mighty Oak is sure to make for a thrilling and challenging match. AFCAA are 1-0-1 to open the season and this will be their second away match of the season, having previous topped Michigan Stars 2-1 away from home.

AFCAA are coming off a stoppage time equalizer from Amadou Cisse to win a point in their home opener against Kalamazoo FC. The Mighty Oak will hope to hold a clean sheet for the first time this season while continuing their three-match run of scoring a goal. Over the first three regular season matches, AFCAA have seen three different goal scorers, with Jordan Montoya leading the way with a pair in the season opener. Alex Alexis has also notched a goal, the first of The Mighty Oak’s club history in the U.S. Open Cup, against Lansing Ignite.

Last season saw AFC top FC Columbus 2-1 away from home in a match that was notable for seeing Columbus notch the first goal against The Mighty Oak’s impenetrable defense in 2018. The 2018 side had gone 488 NPSL minutes without conceding a goal, and while this iteration of The Mighty Oak do not have a clean sheet streak yet, they will hope to start one while avenging the goal scored by FCC last year. Montoya opened the scoring at Columbus last season and will hope for lightning to strike twice in the same place.

The Opponent

FC Columbus are partaking in their second season as a club, both coming in the NPSL Great Lakes Conference. Columbus were consistently in the hunt for a playoff spot during their inaugural season, but the side would finish third in the seven-team conference, just three points out of a playoff spot. Columbus are led by Damani Camara, one of the most dangerous attackers in the entire NPSL.

The match marks the first travel AFCAA will take outside the state of Michigan and, as it stands, is the second-longest away trip in the conference (only FC Indiana is farther). Jake Rufe was on Welcome to Tree Town where he discussed, among other things, the semantics of traveling on away days. The focus he discussed will surely be on display as AFCAA look to get three points away from home for the second time this season.


Ann Arbor Find Equalizer in Stoppage Time

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On a rainy Mother’s Day, the home opener was filled with drama for The Mighty Oak. Kalamazoo FC took advantage of an early first half goal and used it to hang on for the remainder of the game, but AFCAA would not be denied of a late point. AFCAA’s Amadou Cisse finished at the death and made it 1-1 at the inaugural match at Concordia University.

Right in the middle of what seemed to be a feeling out process, it was Kalamazoo who struck. Dalton Michael was played through in a gap between defenders and finished neatly over Lukas von Lienen. It was a tough bit of luck as AFC dominated possession early, but simply could not keep the ball out of the net against KZFC. AFC would get a quick four corners in the first sixteen minutes, but Kalamazoo was up to the task on all four.

AFC had their clearest breakthrough when Matt Braem delivered one of his trademark long balls to Marlon Freitas on the flank, but could not finish the move with a goal. The halftime whistle would then come, and The Mighty Oak would still be without a goal to equalize.

The second half saw Jack Hallahan check in and make an immediate, and significant, impact, but despite The Mighty Oak getting the better of the early exchanges, no goal was to be found. Hallahan was found on the cutback by Alex Alexis, but his shot was left too high and it pinged off the football posts just above the net here at CUAA.

There continued to be a handful of openings. In the 63rd minute a scrum in front of the net with the keeper out of his box saw AFC with some chances, but they just couldn’t put their foot through the ball and into the net. In the 70th minute, James Vaughan got a free kick from thirty yards out, but that too went high and wide. Despite the lack of chances clearly in front of the net, AFCAA continued to dominate possession in Kalamazoo’s half of the pitch.

The last ten minutes brought plenty of drama as well. Jordan Montoya had his best chance of the game in the 84th minute with a low and well-hit shot, but Isaac Walker saved it well. The ensuing corner saw Walker attempt a punch and miss, leaving the KZFC net open, but a defender in purple and gray could head it to safety. In the 89th, Hallahan sent in a cross to Ben Thornton, but Thornton would nod it over the bar. The chances were started to mount, but the best was still to come.

Amadou Cisse came on at the 83rd minute, but in this sport, you just need a few minutes to make an impact. Yet another mad scramble in the box saw the ball take an unnatural spin on the turf and land at Cisse’s feet. Cisse hit it hard enough so Walker, while he got hands to it, could not save it, and it ended up in the back of the net. Marlon Freitas had a bicycle kick go just a touch high as the last kick of the game, but AFC would walk out of Concordia with a point in the most dramatic of situations.

AFC Ann Arbor travel to Columbus on Friday the 17th where they will take on FC Columbus in the third game of the NPSL season for The Mighty Oak, but the season opener for Columbus. That same day, the women will host Grand Rapids FC in the inaugural home opener for the club as well. Click here for ticket info for Friday.



Milk Means More Match Preview: AFC Ann Arbor vs Kalamazoo FC

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The 2019 home campaign kicks off for AFC Ann Arbor as they welcome Kalamazoo FC to their new digs at Concordia University on Mother’s Day. May 12th at 3 PM is the date and time for the home opener as The Mighty Oak look to build off a successful first league match and gain a jump on the rest of the teams in the Great Lakes Conference.

The Mother’s Day clash comes at the tail end of a busy three-game week for AFCAA where they traveled to Pontiac last Saturday, before making the trek to Lansing on Wednesday. The former of the two matches saw The Mighty Oak come from behind in the second half to topple a ten-man Michigan Stars side thanks to a pair of goals from Jordan Montoya. The mid-week USOC tie saw Alex Alexis score the first Open Cup goal in club history, but ultimately The Mighty Oak fell to their professional opposition, Lansing Ignite. Back in the league, though, AFCAA will look to regroup and push forward.

This fixture last season saw Kalamazoo beaten 4-0 by AFC thanks to four goals in fourteen minutes at the end of the first half. Kalamazoo were unable to find a goal in 270 minutes of competition against The Mighty Oak last season, but one of those matches was a 0-0 draw, and AFC also needed a late-winner to push past KZFC in the Michigan Milk Cup. Mother’s Day itself also holds a special place in club lore as Moco Watson scored a game-winning goal in the 92nd minute in the 2018 home opener to defeat Detroit City FC. The positive results of a season ago could, hopefully, for The Mighty Oak, inspire more happy moments to come in the near future.


The Opponent

This match marks the season opener in the league for Kalamazoo FC. This match will be the second of three straight matches where AFCAA face another side in their NPSL league opener. Last season saw the side finish fifth for the second consecutive season in the Great Lakes Conference. They saved the best for last in their campaign as they scored nine goals in their final two matches, both wins. With increasing stability within the set-up of the club, they remain a side to watch both this season and the not-so-distant future, as they will hope to continue moving up in the standings.


All Time Record

AFC Ann Arbor has 6 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses in 7 meetings vs Kalamazoo FC

Mother’s Day Promotion

The first 100 mothers will receive a FREE rose!




Ann Arbor Knocked Out of US Open Cup With 2-1 Defeat to Lansing

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The Mighty Oak bowed out of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-1 loss in Lansing against USL League One side Lansing Ignite. AFC held their own against the professional side with logistic challenges including a pushed back start time and change of venues, but ultimately The Mighty Oak could not find that breakthrough that they pushed for.

The first half saw plenty of action with Lansing holding possession for stretches of time, but AFC not allowing many close-range chances. The seventh minute was the first key moment as Stephen Turnbull made a superb sliding block on the right wing to prevent a surefire goal within ten minutes. AFC’s most dangerous chance early came in the eighteenth minute as Jordan Montoya lined up a shot from outside the box, where he has been so dangerous, but the shot went just a touch high.

AFCAA got the first shot on target of the match, another long-range effort from Montoya that was deflected on its way through. That seemed to serve as a wake-up call for Lansing. Just a minute later Rafael Mentzingen found Ricky Lopez-Espin on a cut-back, but the shot went just a hair wide. That next minute, Lansing found their breakthrough again through Mentzingen as Elma Nfor finished a tough move past Spencer Ward who came close to making the save. AFC found a couple opportunities at the close of the half, including a Jake Rufe shot going wide, but the score would hold at 1-0 at the half.

The opening fifteen minutes of the second half saw a feeling out process for both teams, as well as the introduction of two more returning players, Yuri Farkas and Jack Hallahan, back into game action. While Lansing were able to find space in some dangerous areas, the AFCAA defense held up strong to the task and was able to clear anything dangerous out of their box.

After the feeling out, though, AFCAA struck back. In the 67th minute, after a mad scramble featuring a Jake Rufe shot saved, Alex Alexis latched on to the rebound and hit it with pinpoint accuracy past a cast of Lansing bodies into the net. It was cause for celebration for the Main Street Hooligans in attendance as it this goal was AFC’s first Open Cup goal in club history. Farkas nearly found a second just minutes later, but Ihn was once again up to task and was able save it.

Unfortunately for The Mighty Oak, Lansing had a counter themselves. In the 72nd minute Lewis Jones delivered a cross into the box for Nfor to head home from just a few yards out, giving him a brace on the night. It was a strong response for the home side, but AFC would stick around in the game, continuing to challenge Lansing. A final attacking sub saw Amadou Cisse come on for Turnbull and shortly after that saw Hallahan challenge the keeper with a well-hit ball in the 83rd minute as well. In the end, though, despite a couple last-ditch chances, Lansing held out to the 2-1 score line and would advance to the second round of the Open Cup.

It was a strong reaction from AFC, who fought valiantly to snag an equalizer in the second half. Lansing, however, was able to recuperate and score a second goal that would serve as the winner. AFC are in action for the first time this season at home on Mother’s Day, May 12th, at 3 PM against Kalamazoo FC.

Milk Means More Match Preview: AFC Ann Arbor at Lansing Ignite (US Open Cup First Round)

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AFCAA’s third straight Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicks off tomorrow, May 8th at 7 PM in Lansing, Michigan. The Mighty Oak will square off with Lansing Ignite at Cooley Law School Stadium in hopes of advancing to the second round of the USOC for the first time in club history. A win would set them up for a date with Indy Eleven in Indianapolis next week, but for now it’s all eyes on Lansing.

“The US Open Cup is important for our men and our club. Obviously it's an honor to take part in the competition and a great opportunity for us to play against a professional side,” said Sporting Director & Men’s Head Coach, Eric Rudland.

The Mighty Oak are coming off a season-opening 2-1 victory on the road at Michigan Stars. After Stars went a man down in the 70th minute, AFC turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 final thanks to a pair of lovely outside-the-box hits from Jordan Montoya. The match, which was the first within the NPSL Midwest, hopes to set the tone for the season to come, as well as this USOC tie.

The Mighty Oak’s history in the USOC has not been to their liking, but they will have a chance to override their mistakes of previous years with a win over a professional side. They were defeated 1-0 by Michigan Bucks in the 2017 competition, and last year saw them host their first ever Open Cup match, but lost to Ocean City Nor’Easters 3-0. Against professional competition, the whole side is excited to turn around unfavorable results from seasons prior and kick on to another round.

Roster management is crucial this time of year, as amateur sides like Ann Arbor don’t have much time to train or play together because of the transient nature of the roster year to year. As new players have been arriving daily since Saturday, there’s only been a couple chances for the men to train together. Rudland added, “With the growth of professional football in the US, the challenges are even greater for amateur teams in this competition. We've had two days training with our group in preparation for the match, which isn't ideal, but it's the reality at our level of football and we have to make the most of it.”

Although The Mighty Oak boast a number of returning players, many newcomers have the opportunity to wear the AFC crest on their chest for the first. When asked about how he manages the obstacles and challenges of putting together a competitive side for this match, Rudland commented, “We've been planning out player availability for a month or so now, with the goal of putting together a competitive side for the match. We've tried to bring in 3 players in each position, knowing that arrival dates, injuries or other variables may take a handful of players out of consideration for selection. That being said, a few players will have a great opportunity to prove themselves in their debut match for the club.”

The Opponent

Playing in USL League One, Lansing are currently Michigan’s lone professional soccer team. Having played six games thus far in the new professional league, they currently sit ninth of ten sides with a 2-3-1 record. All seven of their points picked up have come against third-placed side Richmond Kickers, though, which offers something to think about heading into the match. Most recently, Lansing fought Richmond to a 2-2 draw away from home. Going behind early, they scored two goals in thirteen minutes to give themselves a 2-1 lead, before Richmond was able to snag a point at the death in the 90th minute.

Looking at personnel, Lansing offer a well-balanced attack. Ricky Lopez-Espin has scored twice in three appearances for Ignite, but aside from him their remaining seven league goals have come from seven different players. Likewise, eight of those goals have been assisted, and all eight assists have come from a different member of the squad. Selso Saint-Duc has created the most chances with nine, and he is followed closely by Xavier Gomez with eight in that tally. Brandon Fricke and Grant Stoneman are a pair of defenders that have started all six games for their side and played every minute of each game. Four other players have also played in each game, including Saint-Duc, Kyle Carr, who has also started each game, and former University of Michigan midfielder Ivo Cerda.

Lansing’s last starting eleven (4-4-2): Kyle Ihn, Grant Stoneman, Brandon Fricke, Kevin Coiffic, Rhys Williams, Nick Moon, Kyle Carr, Ivo Cerda, Tumi Moshobane, Selso Saint-Duc, Ricky Lopez-Espin

Watch Live

Wednesday’s US Open Cup first round match will be available on ESPN+. This marks AFC Ann Arbor’s first appearance on an ESPN platform.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Tickets

Buy Tickets Here // Click this link to purchase tickets in the Main Street Hooligans section

About the US Open Cup

The first U.S. Open Cup was played in 1914, making it the oldest cup competition for soccer in the United States and the country’s oldest annual tournament for team sports. While professional soccer came and went in various forms and incarnations, at various stages of the 20th century, the Open Cup crowned a champion for each of the last 104 years. Even through the want and woe of the Great Depression and the challenges of two World Wars, the U.S. Open Cup survived. Teams from 17 different states have won the title.


Women's GM, Kristine Adams, Raising Money for ResearcHERS

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AFC Ann Arbor’s General Manager of the new women’s side, Kristine Adams, will be raising money all May to support the new ResearcHERS campaign promoted by American Cancer Society.

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ResearcHERS is a cancer-fighting program that empowers women to raise money for women researchers. Adams will aim to raise $2,500 over the next 30 days to benefit this new initiative. Women continue to be underrepresented in research leadership and Adams and The Mighty Oak wanted to do their part to support the many women cancer researchers, many of whom are early in their career.

To support Kristine’s efforts, make an online donation today.

New Zealand Experienced Gary Ogilvie Joins AFCAA

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AFC Ann Arbor are thrilled to announce the signing of Gary Ogilvie for the 2019 season. Ogilvie is an English midfielder who spent the past four seasons in New Zealand with Canterbury United. Prior to that, the Englishman played with sixth-tier Concord Rangers, an experience that included a cameo appearance in the FA Cup on the road at League Two side Mansfield Town (in which Rangers played them to a 1-1 draw away from home). With high-level experience abroad, and already embedding himself in the team through training and participating in the final friendly match of the preseason, Ogilvie is a welcome addition to an already strong midfield.

Ogilvie was a key part to a Canterbury United side that, last season, finished third in the top-tier of New Zealand football. He made sixteen appearances with the club, scoring six goals for the Dragons, while serving as captain for the majority of these appearances. This came off a strong 2017-18 season in which he scored five goals and added four assists over seventeen matches. United finished third in 2017-18 as well and would advance to the ‘Finals Series’ in each of the two seasons (a playoff between the four top teams in the league each season).

The question that AFC fans may have is a logical one: How does a top-flight New Zealand Premiership talent end up in Michigan? Ogilvie explained, “My wife’s family live in Howell, so I was looking at playing locally for the summer. I wanted to play for the best club I could, and after doing some research I contacted Eric.” He continued to describe his thought process as he said, “Speaking to people who know this league talk about Ann Arbor as one of the great clubs, and I want to be a part of that.” The family connections led him to Michigan, and AFCAA are all the more thankful that it was the case.

When it comes to playing itself, Ogilvie highlights an essential aspect to any player regardless of level. He told AFCAA, “I think the ability to adapt my game to suit the needs of the coach and the team has been my greatest strength, and the reason why I’ve been fortunate to have so many great opportunities in soccer.” The experience aspect is another one of the reasons that Eric Rudland is so excited to welcome him into the squad, as he says, “He brings with him a wealth of playing experience abroad that we hope bleeds through the rest of our team.”

Talking more pointedly about aspects of his game, Rudland says, “After having him in for the past week it looks like his tactical acumen and ability to manipulate the ball will be very good at our level.” With the experience in a country that has, from 2011 to 2018, had a side win the OFC Champions League, he will certainly bring that knowledge of a higher level that Rudland and the rest of the coaching staff hopes from him.

When asked how this experience will help him, Ogilvie said, “I know what it takes to win. I’ve seen a wide range of different situations throughout a season, it’s never plain sailing, and I have experience in leading teams through those periods of adversity.” Expanding on this, and talking about hopes for his season, he said, “Firstly, I want to win. There’s no better feeling than winning things with a group of people who are all working as hard as they can to achieve the same things you are.”

Here in the States, though, Ogilvie hopes to accumulate more knowledge. “I also want to learn as much as I can,” the young veteran said. “Even though I’m 29, I still have the hunger to grow as a player,” he would add. Having played at high levels competitively overseas and venturing into an unfamiliar league, the desire to learn and grow as a player is something that is always welcome to any side. With technical ability to match this positive attitude, hopes are high for the incoming midfielder.

When asked about a message for fans of The Mighty Oak, Ogilvie wanted to make sure that fans of AFC Ann Arbor knew, “I’ll always leave everything out on the field.” A hard-working and determined player, Rudland added the club is “really excited to have him in the team” and for good reason. Especially at a level of play where team rosters are very fluid and often fluctuate until the very last possible second, AFCAA will be pleased that the roster breaks favored them in the acquiring of Ogilvie.

About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.

FootGolf Pro-Am to be Hosted at Georgetown Country Club on May 19th

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Association Football Club Ann Arbor has partnered with Michigan FootGolf Club and Georgetown Country Club to reintroduce The Mighty Oak Pro-Am FootGolf Tournament Presented By Ann Arbor Sports Commission. This marks the second foot golf event hosted by the trio following the inaugural event in 2017.

The event will give fans the opportunity to partner up with a member of AFC Ann Arbor (men and women) and compete together against other participants/AFCAA duos. The event will take place on Sunday, May 19th, from 1 to 5pm. The cost to enter the pro-am is $20 per person.

Each participant will be partnered with an AFC Ann Arbor player. The two will only record one score per hole, but both players will play each hole, while only using the “best shot” of the two. Each team will play a total of 10 holes. Scores will be recorded and winners of each division will take home silverware. The divisions will be u12, u16, u19 and Adult. Each pro-am duo will be paired with another twosome, so register with your daughter, son, mother, father, friend or partner and you’ll spend the day with two AFC Ann Arbor players out on “the links.”

Register today by clicking here.




Milk Means More Match Preview: AFC Ann Arbor at Michigan Stars

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The Mighty Oak begin their 2019 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) campaign with a visit to a revamped Michigan Stars side, this Saturday, May 4th at Ultimate Soccer Arenas at 7PM. The game marks the kick-off of Great Lakes Conference play and a busy eight-day stretch that sees the First Round US Open Cup (USOC) match against Lansing Ignite book-ended with a pair of NPSL games.

“Obviously, every season opener is exciting,” said Rudland who returns at the helm for his fourth season as Sporting Director and Men’s Head Coach. “We’re looking forward to the early test and opportunity to start positively in conference play,” he added.

Coming off back to back NPSL Great Lakes Conference titles, Rudland’s men will hope to put their best foot forward in the early stages of the season. As players continue to finish up their collegiate campaigns, AFCAA already have a stable core of returnees in Tree City. Featuring ‘Frenchy’ Braem, Jordan Montoya, Jake Rufe and James Vaughan, AFC could deploy any of these returning members of the side. Additionally, newcomers like Bryce Nicholson (Lawrence Tech), Lukas von Lienen (Western Michigan), and Alex Alexis (Florida Atlantic) all have been able to complete successful seasons at the university level before coming to Ann Arbor to begin with AFCAA in hopes of figuring into a starting eleven.

With Stars inactive last season, you must venture back to 2017 season to find meetings between these sides. In the final match of the 2017 NPSL league season, AFCAA topped Michigan Stars 1-0 in Ann Arbor thanks to a 78th Jep Allen winner. The goal meant The Mighty Oak would finish the year undefeated  at home and served as a follow-up to a 5-0 victory over Stars on the road.


The Opponent

Michigan Stars are coming off a win in the first round of the Michigan Milk Cup this past Sunday. Hosting Livonia City F.C., Stars needed an 88th minute winner from midfielder Michel Allou to get the win. They will venture to Flint to take on Flint City Bucks in the Milk Cup, but for now their focus is on starting off league play on the right foot. Stars are one of two teams new to the Great Lakes from 2018 to 2019. After a strong third-place finish in 2016, they dropped to a sixth-place finish in the eight-team division before their hiatus in 2018. Consistently competitive, Stars hope to return back to their positive form from three seasons ago amidst a conference where some of the key heavy-hitters have remained the same.

As a seasonal primer, Eric Rudland will be on ‘Welcome to Tree Town’ to discuss the NPSL opener as well as the USOC First Round tie and much more. You can listen to that this Thursday at AFCAnnArbor.com, or on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you may get your podcasts from.

AFC ANN ARBOR ROSTER

MICHIGAN STARS ROSTER

TICKETS FOR SATURDAY

Hear from Coach Rudland ahead of the first match on Episode 13 of ‘Welcome to Tree Town’