The Mighty Oak are back in action as they take to the road outside the state of Michigan for the second time this season. AFCAA will make the trip US-23 to Toledo where Toledo Villa FC await them. This will be a first-ever meeting between the two sides as Toledo is currently in their first season as an NPSL club. AFC Ann Arbor are yet to lose this season on the road, and ahead of some crucial matches against playoff contending sides, they will hope to keep the momentum up through the month of June.
After a dominating win over FC Columbus, beating the other Ohio team in the NPSL Great Lakes 4-1, the hope for the side is that the free-scoring ways that were so prominent last season will return. AFCAA have played eight matches and, with their big outing against Columbus, jumped into double-digits goals scored with eleven. Yazeed Matthews leads the team with three goals, all three against FCCLB in the two matches played against them, but three other players each have two goals apiece (Jordan Montoya, Jarred Dass, and Sebastian Chalbaud).
In defense, The Mighty Oak have showed strength with a late concession against Columbus stopping them from having four clean sheets in their last five matches. With Ian McGrane making saves in net, and center backs like Matt Braem, Ben Thornton, and Iwan Webster ahead of him, the defensive spine is strong. In addition, wingbacks Stephen Turnbull (on the right) and Jake Rufe or Marlon Freitas (on the left) have been able to charge forward in attack while making sure to cover their man getting back. The stability offered in defense may just have helped to nudge the attack out of its shell last match.
As previously mentioned, Toledo Villa are the newest members to the NPSL family. As is the case with so many “expansion” teams over sports, however, they have found their first season to be full of challenges. TVFC currently sit in eighth out of the eight-team Great Lakes Conference with just a single point. They needed a late goal, their only goal in open play this season, to draw a point at home against FC Indiana. They’ve scored two other times this season, both coming off penalty kicks.
Despite the struggles getting points, Toledo have been able to impress at times. A 90th minute winner from Aaron McCready is how they rescued a point from FC Indiana, showing how they will not give up on a match. They also brought a 1-0 lead over Grand Rapids FC to the half in GRFC’s visit to Toledo, however they would ultimately lose that match 4-1. Likewise, they would strike first against FC Columbus and would also take a 1-0 lead to the half on the road, but once again they would fall 3-1.
It is clear that Toledo Villa are not to be taken lightly because they will capitalize on mistakes made. With a couple penalties conceded by AFCAA this season, a key will certainly be to make sure they avoid making any possible mistakes in the box. With an important three points on the line, it will be all about taking care of business on the road this Friday evening.