Association Football Club Ann Arbor is off to a strong start this season, having earned thirteen points in just five matches, as they remain atop the Great Lakes Conference table. One of the most impressive things about the run so far is that The Mighty Oak have yet to concede a single goal.
Ann Arbor will travel to Columbus on Sunday afternoon for the first meeting between the two clubs. Columbus, an expansion team in 2018, are three matches into their inaugural campaign and have surprised and impressed most teams with their athleticism and quality of play.
“Columbus has definitely earned a lot of respect in the league so far. They’ve earned some great results and proven that they are a worthy opponent. Going down to their place will be a tough road contest for us. It sounds like they have some very good individual players and collectively have strong ideas regarding their system of play,” said Head Coach & Sporting Director Eric Rudland.
The Mighty Oak aren’t in this position by accident as they’ve shown their capabilities since joining the National Premier Soccer League in 2016. In the first two years, Ann Arbor finished second and first in the Great Lakes and are hoping to defend their 2017 conference title. No doubt that the success stems from the depth and quality of the players that Coach Rudland and his staff have assembled to represent AFC Ann Arbor.
That recipe has proven itself successful as The Mighty Oak have capped 30 different players in 5 league matches tallying a 4-1-0 record. But as Rudland has done in the past and will continue to do, his focus is one match a time and working on continually improving and fine tuning his team’s system.
“We have a few plans in place for Sunday, we have to check in with our man today during our recovery session to see where players are at physically. We also want to check the TITAN GPS performance data from our match last night to see how much ground each player covered and take all of those variables in the consideration and we look to pick the team for Sunday. Obviously we expect each player in the 18 to contribute just a matter of who starts the game for us and finishes the game for us,” said Rudland.
Columbus is coming off it’s first NPSL Great Lakes conference victory after defeating KZFC 3-1 on Memorial Day. After beginning the season with a draw at Milwaukee, Columbus traveled to Detroit for their second match of the season and were deadlocked with Le Rouge until the 86th minute before dropping the road points with a 1-0 loss.
The victory over Kalamazoo will of course give the home side some confidence tomorrow, but this early in the season, with two teams that have never played before, you just can’t be sure what to expect from FC Columbus. What we do know is everyone wants to beat The Mighty Oak and we expect FCCLB to be prepared and organized as the home side tomorrow.