The Mighty Oak enter the home stretch of the 2017 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) regular season atop the Great Lakes Division table with just 3 matches remaining. For the second consecutive week, Ann Arbor finds itself ranked 2nd in the NPSL power rankings.
AFC will travel to Hamtramck to take on the NPSL’s 7th ranked team in the nation, Detroit City FC who have won eight straight league matches climbing their way to within two points of Ann Arbor.
Friday’s match marks only the 4th time the club’s have met, the first of which was Ann Arbor’s only trip to Keyworth which resulted in a 1-1 draw. Each club took 3 points in the next two matches respectively, bringing the series to an even 1-1-1 record for each club.
Although AFC has been atop the table for the majority of the 2017 campaign, Coach Rudland’s group still feel like they have something to prove.
“The most important thing is that our players are really hungry at the moment to prove what they can do. So I expect our group to be up for the match this Friday,” added Rudland.
Ann Arbor has shown depth across the pitch allowing different guys to step up and make an impact throughout 11 matches. In the last 6 matches, 9 different players have scored 18 goals for The Mighty Oak.
In addition to the multiple offensive threats, AFC Ann Arbor has earned 6 clean sheets in 11 matches. Outside of mainstay TJ Tomasso (GK) who has been brilliant the entire season, the backline has seen 8 players contribute significant minutes to hold opponents to only 7 goals so far (5 less than the next team at 12).
“Just as we have had a few different goal scorers we have had a healthy rotation of players in the back for us down the stretch. I think the mentality of the backline has been fantastic. They are all warriors who really want to sacrifice and make plays for the team, whether that means starting, coming on as a sub or pushing other players in training. We are not perfect by any means but the men at the back for us all have a hunger to compete,” said Rudland.
He added, “TJ has been everything that people told me he would be for our club. He's a veteran with a blue collar mentality. He's the first guy in training and usually the last guy to leave. He has earned the respect of his teammates and the coaching staff, not only for his performances in critical moments, but also by the way he goes about his daily business.”