Association Football Club Ann Arbor are proud to announce that the club have joined USL League Two ahead of the 2020 season. The club will join the Great Lakes Division in the Central Conference. The club looks forward to competing in the third-tier of the USL league set-up, the country’s top pre-professional league.
“The move to USL2 is an exciting new chapter for our club,” said Head Coach Eric Rudland.
“The competition will present a welcome new challenge for our players and staff in terms of preparing to play new rivals and shifting how we go about building our roster. The standard of play in the Midwest is extremely high, so we are working hard to enter the league on competitive terms.”
On the move, co-owner Rishi Narayan said, “While we have enjoyed the time spent and relationships developed in every league we have participated in, we feel that this is the best move for our whole organization, particularly for our players and our supporters.”
“It’s an incredible accomplishment for our club, particularly for how we have ascended up the soccer pyramid in our short time of existence,” added Knox Cameron, fellow co-owner and former player for The Mighty Oak. “I think that speaks volumes about the ambition of our organization as well as our staff, particularly Eric, we have brought in to oversee the soccer operations.”
Cameron would also note, “A big part of this ascension of the pyramid is directly related to the successes we’ve had on the field.” The Mighty Oak possess a 38-9-13 record over the five years existence. The side have finished in the top two in each of the four years spent in the NPSL’s Great Lakes Division and helped found and compete in the Great Lakes Premier League in 2015, the club’s first year of existence.
AFC Ann Arbor be joining USL2’s 2019 National Champion, Flint City Bucks (formerly known as the Michigan Bucks), as the second team from the state in the Great Lakes Division. Prior to relocating to Flint in 2019, the Bucks and Ann Arbor met just once, in the first round of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, dropping a tight 1-0 contest to the historic club.
Fans can expect the same amount of home matches for the men, continuing their May-July schedule. 2020 Season Memberships are now on sale, which includes admission to all men’s (USL2) and women’s (UWS) home matches. Membership prices will not increase and can be purchased now at afcannarbor.com/memberships.
Club founder, Jamey Amrine summed up the move best by saying, “From the very beginning, when we started up the club, our vision was to continue building our organization both on the field and off. We’ve always sought to continue growing as a club and to play against the best possible competition.”
About AFC Ann Arbor
Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor began competition with their men’s team in 2015 in the Great Lakes Premier League. After joining the National Premier Soccer League in 2016, The Mighty Oak became the only club in NPSL history to qualify for the regional playoffs all four years since joining the league while securing two Great Lakes Conference Championships, two Midwest Region Finals appearances and producing the 2018 National Player of the Year, in Joseph Stanley Okumu (who went on to become a USL record transfer as he know plays in the top division in Sweden). In just five years, the men’s team has produced sixteen professional players and have dedicated significant resources and energy to creating opportunities for their players to push on. The move to USL2 will only enhance these opportunities as AFCAA now have a direct #Path2Pro.
USL League Two is poised to make elite pre-professional soccer more accessible than ever for elite collegiate soccer players and others with amateur status in the 2020 season. In addition to valuable consistency in competition and an emphasis on development for players, the USL League Two’s platform is unique in that it also prioritizes the growth of coaches, communities, and executives on the “Path2Pro.”
USL & AFC Ann Arbor History
AFC Ann Arbor have faced two teams, both from the mitten state, that are part of the USL. In 2017’s U.S. Open Cup first round, Ann Arbor dropped a tight 1-0 match to the Michigan Bucks (USL2) before losing 2-1 to USL1’s professional side, Lansing Ignite in the 2019 first round match of the Open Cup.
In September 2019, former AFC Ann Arbor standout Joseph Stanley Okumu became the largest transfer in the history of the USL when he left Real Monarchs (who he joined immediately after his summer with AFCAA) for Sweden’s top division team, IF Elfsborg.