The Michigan Milk Cup defending Champions, AFC Ann Arbor, will travel to Kalamazoo on Tuesday for the 2018 semi-final match and their third match against KZFC this season. The winner will advance to the Milk Cup Finals to take on Lansing United of the Premier Development League on July 4th.
Tuesday’s match comes ahead of arguably the biggest match of the season this Friday when Ann Arbor hosts FC Columbus and a win for The Mighty Oak will secure the 2018 Great Lakes Conference Championship. But advancing to the finals of the Milk Cup is important to the club and Coach Rudland has his men ready.
“It's always hard to play a team three times in one season, especially having just played one another last weekend. Kalamazoo did a good job maximizing their potential this Saturday in Detroit and we have to respect the fact that they've been very good at home this season. They may make some small tweaks or changes for Tuesday but for the most part at this point of the seasons teams have found their identity and are who they are. So for us it's just about focusing on executing our match plan in an effort to advance,” said Rudland.
A midweek match ahead of a conference clinching league matchup means tapping into the depth of the roster once again.
“The team on Tuesday will feature changes from our group last Friday in Grand Rapids. We have some players who have been knocking on the door in training and deserve a run, so Tuesday is a great opportunity for them. We want to blend in a few of our veteran players as well to make sure the team has good balance in terms of positional play and experience,” added Rudland.
Tickets for Tuesday’s match can be purchased here. Follow along for updates on Twitter. No plans to stream the match have been confirmed at this time.
Kalamazoo FC is coming off a solid road performance earning a tough point against hosts Detroit City this past weekend. The 1-1 draw showed that Kalamazoo will play hard to earn every result regardless of the implication of the match.
Knowing their NPSL postseason hopes are dead, the opportunity to continue their cup run will be the extra motivation Kalamazoo will need to see if they can earn their first win over AFC Ann Arbor in club history.
AFC traveled to Kalamazoo for a league match back in May that ended in a 0-0 draw, but Ann Arbor weren’t short of chances in the scoreless match.
“When I look back at our last visit to Kalamazoo it wasn't a matter of creating chances because we did a good job of that. We carried play for spells of the match and were good at getting to goal. Their GK on the day was very good and we squandered some chances that we wished we could have had back. So taking our chances is really the focus,” commented Rudland.
Note: Former AFC Ann Arbor player Dumisani Munyangay (2016 team) is know playing his second season with KZFC and had one of the best scoring chances for his side in the last meeting between the clubs 10 days ago.
Team Sheet will be released Tuesday morning.
In the event the after 90 minutes (plus stoppage time) the score remains tied, the teams will play two-additional 15 minute halves of extra time. If at the end of that extra time (120 minutes) the score remains tied, the winner will be decided from penalty kicks following FIFA rules (5 kick method).