The news was made official March 1st, AFC Ann Arbor would be one of sixteen National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) team’s receiving at large bids to the US Open Cup.
Sporting Director and Head Coach Eric Rudland has been prepping since then, not only to get his guys ready for a challenging contest against the Michigan Bucks, but also preparing the entire roster to manage multiple matches in just a few days.
“Tonight is a historic night for our club; to have the opportunity to compete in the US Open Cup is definitely an honor. Obviously, the Bucks are a worthy opponent, so we need to trust our game plan and execute in order to get a result,” said Rudland.
Traveling to Pontiac’s Ultimate Soccer Arenas for a 7:30pm match, AFC Ann Arbor will square up against the most successful amateur team in the modern era. While Wednesday marks the first ever US Open Cup appearance for The Mighty Oak, this will be the Bucks 14th appearance in the historic competition.
Coming off their 2016 PDL National Championship, the Bucks will be returning 8 players from that team on top of adding some of some key attacking pieces.
The Mighty Oak team for Wendesday’s match includes a transfer from FC Buffalo in goalkeeper Steven Casey (see complete team sheet below). TJ Tomasso, who started Sunday’s match against Milwaukee Torrent, is unable to play for AFC in the Open Cup having been cup tied to a previous club he spent time with last season. After Mighty Oak goalkeeper, Adrian Motta got injured in the Saline Showcase, the club was left with just one rostered keeper in Spencer Ward eligible for tonight’s match. Rudland began his search to find a second keeper for the US Open Cup roster and a connection was made through former AFC Assistant Coach, Mike Meyers.
The winner of Wednesday’s match will host professional side, Indy Eleven the following week on May 17th.
Tickets for tonight’s match will be available at the gate. $10 for adult and $7 for youth (children 5 and under are free).
The home team has tentative plans to stream Wednesday’s match but no link has been provided at this time. Stay tuned to AFC Ann Arbor social media if you’re unable to the match and want to stay connected. Play-by-play tweets will be available by following @afcannarbor.