Today is a day full of firsts for The Mighty Oak. The road match at Milwaukee not only marks the first National Premier Soccer League match of the season, but also the first time the club will square up against the Milwaukee Torrent.
AFC Ann Arbor begins its second season in the NPSL (Midwest Region) Great Lakes Conference. The Torrent are the newest addition to the conference along with FC Indiana, which saw Dayton Dynamo move to the East Conference, while the other five Michigan teams from last season return including Detroit City FC, Grand Rapids FC, Kalamazoo FC, Lansing United and Michigan Stars.
Coming off a second place finish in their inaugural season in the NPSL Great Lakes Conference (6-3-3) securing the club’s first postseason berth, The Mighty Oak dropped a heartbreaking loss in penalties to eventual National Champion, AFC Cleveland. With the significant amount of returning players, there’s a hint of unfinished business that carries into 2017.
Facing the Torrent on the road will be no easy task for the league opener but Coach Rudland and team have been preparing for the challenging schedule that they face to open up season three. Rudland said, “The first match of the season is always challenging as our team is just coming out of the building and preparation phase of our preseason. Also there is a certain degree of unknowns with our opponent. It’s always exciting to kick off another campaign. With that being said today will be a great early test for our men.”
After Saturday’s contest, AFC will play in its first US Open Cup match, a 103 year-old tournament that includes teams from the NPSL to the MLS, on Wednesday, May 10th. Then, the club plays Kalamazoo FC twice in the following 9 days.
Kickoff is set for 7PM (6PM CST) at Hart Park. The match will not be streamed but be sure to follow @afcannabor on Twitter for play-by-play updates.