AFC Ann Arbor is pleased to announce Brandon Katona is the next returnee to The Mighty Oak for the 2019 season. Katona spent the 2018 season with AFCAA and is the first to be from the state of Michigan to be announced for this season. From Dearborn, Katona has just finished a four-year collegiate career at Adrian College. He was named to the Second Team All-MIAA Conference in 2017 as a junior and followed that up with a pair of goals in eleven games played as a senior. As Katona’s return marks four out of four confirmed players being returnees, Eric Rudland said, “His involvement in 2019 adds another returning piece to our core group.”
When it came to linking up with AFC last season, Katona had some obvious reasoning behind it, saying, “I was drawn to AFC because they were a newer program and already seeing some major accomplishments.” He continued to praise the club’s set-up as he said, “Everyone at the club has a winning mentality and it pushes everyone to be at their best. It was a type of atmosphere I hadn’t been around in the past and being a part of it is something that really drew me in.”
Generally deployed off the bench, Katona was able to play a role in a large majority of matchday squads in his first season. “He came through with a few key performances including our season opener out in Milwaukee and our away Milk Cup semi-final match vs Kalamazoo,” said Rudland. Katona’s top highlight of last season was one of the most thrilling for the club in one of those aforementioned key performances. He noted that “scoring the winning goal in the Milk Cup semifinal at Kalamazoo [was] tons of fun.” Indeed, Katona helped top Kalamazoo FC away from home thanks to a last-minute goal, the lone goal of a semifinal bout in Kalamazoo.
The last-minute goal was an on-the-pitch highlight, but being part of the AFCAA Family is far more than just the game itself. He continued from his earlier quote, saying, “But also, just making a bunch of friends through the team and challenging each other every day in training is a great memory for me.”
Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about Katona as a player is his versatility, which coach Rudland highlighted. The head coach said, “Brandon is a local player with positional versatility. Last year we used him as a left back, wing back and front-line player.” Katona is a rare breed of player that has been effectively been deployed at forward, midfield, and in defense be it for AFC, or for Adrian. Listed as a defender last season, Katona acknowledged his versatility as well, telling AFCAA, “I’d say the reason I’ve been featured at positions anywhere…is because I am willing to help the team in any way possible.”
He noted that his flexibility in position makes him unique, but the utility-man is more than just a player capable of playing anywhere. He discussed his skills saying, “I am pretty quick and enjoy playing on the wing and giving defenders a hard time.” The pace and trickiness on the wing, combined with a knowledge of an attacker’s brain, suits him well as a modern fullback. On the opposite hand, a knowledge of what a defender is thinking suits him well to playing in an attacking role as well. What is true no matter where he plays is that Katona brings plenty of skills along with a high IQ on the pitch.
Katona has his own ideals for how the season will turn out. He says, “Hoping for [the] best this season, I’d like to help the team reach our goals and continue our success as a club!” It is not just about Katona as a player, but the team-spirited mentality in helping AFC Ann Arbor grow as a club is the sort of model player attitude that a club like The Mighty Oak could ask for.