After a very busy offseason, the Mighty Oak are set to host their inaugural National Premier League Soccer match at Hollway Field, this Saturday, May 7th at 7PM. Shortly after AFC Ann Arbor completed the inaugural season in the Great Lakes Premier League, the club announced a move to the NPSL along with league mates Grand Rapids FC. Now competing in the newly formed Great Lakes West Division of the Midwest Region of the NPSL, the Mighty Oak are one of six Michigan teams. The seventh and final team that makes up the division is the Dayton Dynamo, also the first opponent of the season for AFC Ann Arbor.
The opening league match for AFC Ann Arbor has been selected as the National Game of the Week by the league office. The inaugural NPSL match for AFC Ann Arbor also marks the first time these two clubs have met.
The Dynamo recently transitioned from Cincinnati to Dayton and have already exceeded the positive welcome from the community that they were expecting. President and CEO of the Dynamo, David Satterwhite added, “Transition has been great. Very well supported from the community, 10 fold what we were in Cincinnati. The talent pool is much deeper in Dayton than it was in Cincinnati. The transition has allowed us to put a better product on the field & increase our fan experience on match days.”
Both clubs carry larger rosters of 35 + men, so training has been competitive the first week with players trying to earn a spot in the 18 selected for Saturday’s contest.
The Dynamo boast a 40 + man roster but Satterwhite attributes this to the competitive nature of the league stating, “We carry so many players as we are not just building for this year but for years to come. The crazy thing is that our 42 players are all at the same level. Which in this league is huge to be able to not have your level drop when guys are missing or injured. I would have to say about 80% are local, but the international players have come from the Dayton, Cincinnati & Columbus area colleges.”
About AFC Ann Arbor
AFC Ann Arbor has a roster of 30 + men with half having international ties. Of the remaining players, twelve call Ann Arbor home and the rest hail from different corners of the country. The players have been arriving over the past two weeks but most have arrived making the training sessions top notch.
Head Coach and Sporting Director Eric Rudland said, “Training has been sharp this week. We’ve introduced new players into the team daily, which has raised the level of competitiveness. Team selection will be much more difficult for the home opener with the influx of talent, but have personnel options is a good thing for the club. We’re looking forward to the NPSL opener!”
Although this Saturday’s match will be the first in the NPSL for AFC Ann Arbor, Coach Rudland brings a great deal of experience with him, having won the Midwest Region Championship with his former club, Lansing United, in 2014.
“The NPSL experience is going to be exciting for AFC & the Ann Arbor community. It's a 12 game regular season that flies by with the blink of an eye. For me it's most important to take the schedule one match at a time. We very much want to respect every opponent on our schedule & make sure that we are well prepared for each match. That process obviously starts this week, and we are looking forward to kicking off NPSL action at Hollway,” said Rudland.
Match Day Tips
-Head to Arbor Brewing Company starting at 5pm for pre match festivities. Meet up with other supporters and enjoy a pint of Strength In The Oak beer then hop on the shuttle for FREE to Hollway Field.
-Get your tickets in advance and save money and time! If you buy your tickets ahead of time you’ll not only save time by not having to wait in line at the ticket booth on match day but an extra dollar to spend on some BTB Burrito at halftime. Tickets are available online until Noon on match day, May 7th.
-Kids under 4 are free but everyone can enjoy Post Match Autographs presented by Audi of Ann Arbor. Get one of 200 exclusive match day posters compliments of Bank of Ann Arbor perfect for getting your favorite players autograph.
-Parking is FREE and easy to access