Third year right back Jake Rosen has never been shy about his pride for The Mighty Oak. But Saturday’s matchup sees his collegiate side match-up against a club he’s actually played more matches for, AFC Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, Rosen will miss Saturday’s contest due to injury but will nonetheless be tuned in to watch his two clubs go head to head in the 2018 season opener friendly.
With Ann Arbor’s opening match at Skyline High School last week being cancelled, this weekend’s match will serve as a platform for Coach Rudland to test certain trialists and introduce different schematics as he continues to prepare for NPSL Great Lakes Conference play and the U.S. Open Cup.
“We have a handful of players, currently not signed with us, who have been very committed to our pre-season training environment and are deserving of an opportunity in a real match. So Saturday presents our staff a realistic final observation of the impact the trialists can make in our system vs a live opponent,” said Head Coach & Sporting Director Eric Rudland.
Rudland’s approach with players who have already signed with the club for 2018 is a little different adding, “The plan going into the match is to get our signed players up to 60min. We are methodically building their bodies and fitness levels so they can reach 90 min by our final pre-season match.”
Tomorrow’s season opener will of course feature some familiar faces and names you’ll want to remember as well.
“Matt Braem will be leading us on the pitch tomorrow night. He was our club captain in 2017 and has been with us for 2 seasons. I couldn't think of a better man to be leading us into our 2018 campaign. I think Sergio Campbell will play a big role in the back-line. He has shown well in training and his pedigree & playing history bode well for anchoring our defensive unit. Also, returning up top are two of our most dangerous attackers from 2017 with Yuri Farkas and Kyle Breitmeyer. Jordan Montoya, a new signee, will play in the front line as well, so we are looking forward to seeing how he partners with our returners. We obviously have a lot to still iron out and are waiting for a number of our players to come into the team, but having an opportunity to get these mentioned players a run, at this point in the team building process, is critical,” said Rudland.
Also joining The Mighty Oak tomorrow night will be fan favorite Hector Morales. As he continues his preparations for opportunities elsewhere, Morales has been training with the team to stay fit and sharp. Morales joined the club two-years ago and has left his mark on the fans, coaching staff and front office, most notably for his role in a late match 3-2 comeback over Lansing United in 2016. For the fans, it’ll be a special treat to see one of AFCAA Family’s most heroic names.
Ann Arbor native Kenny Vasquez who was invited for an extended trial after a standout performance at the February open tryout was added to the official roster, dropping the trialist tag before his name. Vasquez, a Pioneer High school graduate who played at Concordia University Ann Arbor, will be a great addition to The Mighty Oak.
The Cardinals will be closing out their spring season with Saturday’s match and are coming off an impressive 2-2 draw on the road against Bowling Green State University.
Coach Wagstaff took to Twitter after the match to offer his lads praise saying, “Very happy with the men tonight after a 2-2 draw with BGSU. Tough test for us on the road but we showed some good courage going up 2-0 only to be pegged back to 2-2 late on.”
Coach Rudland has this to say about the opponent, “Anytime a high level college program will entertain playing us is exciting. SVSU is a nationally recognized program that has produced great results and players over the course of the last 10 years. We know that they are at the tail end of their spring season, so they will be sharp on the ball, physically fit and have a good understanding of their tactics. With us being on the front end of our team building process it will provide a great early test to see where we are. We are looking forward to Jake Rosen returning with us and the new addition of Shakes joining our club.”
Match Day Experience
With this being a traveling friendly to host Huron High School, fans can expect a little different experience Saturday night, but have no doubt, plenty of supporters will be gathering at HOMES Brewery ahead of the match.
There will be no food trucks as Huron Girls Varsity program will be running the concessions and collecting 100% of the proceeds. Make sure to stop by for a snack and tip generously if you can.
A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will also be benefiting the visiting side, SVSU, as part of The Mighty Oak’s ongoing efforts to support local soccer organizations.
All Liverpool FC International Academy of Michigan players wearing their jersey get in free as well as all participants in the Ann Arbor Invitational.
“Tactics wise we want to play our brand and our system. Hopefully our fans are accustomed to us keeping the ball and creating goal scoring chances, so we want to see how our attacking partnerships look. Without the ball we want to recover possession as quickly as possible. So we will be looking for immediate reactions to regain the ball, hopefully high up the pitch. We haven't had enough time, or enough of our players in yet, to fine tune everything, so we expect there to be problems identified throughout the match that we will need to focus on next week in training,” said Rudland.
Jersey No - Player
2 - Kenny Vasquez
3 - Trialist (Ludvick Asigo)
4 - Brandon Katona
5 - Trialist (Gustavo)
6 - Jordan Montoya
7 - Yuri Farkas
8 - Marlon Frietas
9 - Kyle Breitmeyer
10 - Hector Morales
11 - Trialist (Danny Dragoi
12 - Leonardo Abonizio
14 - Matthieu Braem
15 - Breno Stapcinskas
16 - Trialist (Pat Rose)
17 - Sergio Campbell
18 - Trialist (Marco Bernardini)
19 - Trialist (Andrew Hill)
34 - Nick Barry
66 - Joe Smith