Last season’s Defensive Player of the Year for The Mighty Oak, Matthieu Braem, will return to the team for the 2017 season.
The center back was one of two players on the roster to played every minute of every league match last season. His impact was made through his dominant play and natural leadership which played a massive role in earning the club’s first playoff berth.
Coach Rudland is thrilled to have him back adding, “Frenchy is a very important returning player for us as he was a mainstay in our backline last year. He has high end insight, soft feet and is a very good ball winner. We have high expectations for him and I know he is eager to get back into the team.”
As a fan favorite, Frenchy is not only excited to play for the Ann Arbor fans once again, but hopes to play another lead role securing another playoff berth for AFC Ann Arbor.
Read our “Five Questions with Frenchy” below:
AFC: How does it feel to be returning to Ann Arbor for another summer? What did you love most about the city?
Frenchy: It honestly feels awesome. I can't wait to be back and spend another summer in Ann Arbor. There are a lot of things I loved about the city but what I would probably want to point out the most would be the people and the city itself. I think that the fact that you can just go downtown during a random afternoon and always have something happening within the city and seeing people loving life and smiling is something that not a lot of cities have.
AFC: As the team's "Defensive Player of the Year" you obviously made your mark on this club, its fan base and helped earn a playoff berth in a very difficult division. What were the best moments from 2016 and what do you hope to accomplish in 2017?
Frenchy: I have two best moments... The first one would be when we were down 2-0 at home vs Lansing United with 10 minutes to go and we came back and won the game. I will probably remember that feeling my entire life. The stadium was pretty full and I can remember the celebration with the fans after the game.
The second one would be when we secured our spot for the playoffs at Kalamazoo FC. It was a prideful moment to reach the playoffs during the club's first year in the division.
This season, I want to achieve at least as much as we did last year. Reaching the Playoffs is a must if we want to make some noise within the NPSL itself. From a personal standpoint, I am still chasing after a professional contract so I am setting the bar pretty high regarding the level I want to be at during the upcoming season.
AFC: Last season you used to mention how your Dad would follow along on Twitter (and watch when stream was available) back in France. What does it mean to have that kind of support?
Frenchy: My Dad has always been an example for me but also my biggest fans (far behind my Mom). They both made a lot of sacrifices in order for me to be able to come to the United States and pushed me to reach my dreams when I was close from giving up. Luckily, he is planning on coming to Ann Arbor for the beginning of the season and it feels amazing. This season might be the last I play, so it is very important for him and myself to know that he will be there to support me.
AFC: You were 1 of only 2 players to play every minute of every league match last season. What's your training and fitness routine like?
Frenchy: I have always been pretty unlucky with injuries. A lot was bad luck, but a lot was due to not having a proper hygiene and preparation. During the last couple years I have been focusing a lot on that. Last year I was going to the gym to lift whenever I could to get stronger and prevent these muscular issues. Beside that, I would say that the most important thing is taking care of what you are eating. Ice creams and hamburgers always sound pretty good but if you want to be healthy and reach your maximum potential, you need to be careful regarding what you eat.
AFC: You spent a lot of time coaching some of the youth players in the area last summer and seemed to make quite an impact. What is it about coaching that you love so much? What advice do you have to those younger players who hope to play in college and beyond?
Frenchy: Coaching is just something that has always attracted me. Kids, and especially the one I worked with last summer are always willing to learn and get better. They always enjoy advices and I think that this is why coaching is something that I always loved. What is better than knowing that you might have an impact on how these kids will see and think about the beautiful game for the rest of their lives?
The biggest advice I have would be to always enjoy the game. I found myself sometimes complaining about having to go to practice and such... and this is not good. You need to always enjoy being on the field and try to get 1% better every single time you step on the field. Plus, if you enjoy it, you will find yourself performing much better than if you don't.
About AFC Ann Arbor
AFC Ann Arbor completed a very successful inaugural campaign in the Midwest Region of the National Premier Soccer League finishing 2nd in the conference while earning the club’s first playoff berth. The club’s third season kicks off in May as The Mighty Oak look to continue their winning ways under Head Coach Eric Rudland. Youth, General and Premium Memberships for Season Tree can be purchased here.