AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to announce that the club have agreed on a three-year contract renewal with head coach of the men’s side Eric Rudland. The upcoming 2020 season will mark Rudland’s fifth year at the helm of the team where he has led The Mighty Oak to a 36-7-9 record (winning 69.2% of games played) in league play over those four seasons. Over the course of his four seasons, he has led The Mighty Oak to a pair of NPSL Great Lakes Conference Championships in the 2017 and 2018 seasons while guiding the club to three trips to the U.S. Open Cup.
During his time with the club, Rudland has recruited and coached elite players to Ann Arbor in all walks of their career. Sixteen players that have spent time under Rudland are currently playing professionally across three continents. He has managed three players (Sergio Campbell, Dario Suarez, Joseph Stanley Okumu) with senior national team caps, and Okumu, the 2018 NPSL TopDrawerSoccer Player of the Year, most recently made a USL Championship record move from Real Monarchs to IF Elfsborg after impressing at the 2019 African Cup of Nations with Kenya. Rudland is also the reigning 2019 NPSL Great Lakes Conference XI Coach of the Year and, over the course of three seasons of the regional XI award format, seen five players named to the Midwest Region Best XI.
“I think the club is positioned well for both short term and long-term success which makes AFCAA an exciting project to still be a part of,” said Rudland. He noted that while things have changed around the country in terms of soccer landscape, AFCAA remain stable as ever. “During my time with the club the entire landscape of US Soccer has changed a great deal…new leagues, expansion franchises, etc., etc. Even though the landscape around us has continued to shift we have steadily built our football brand and reputation.”
In regards to his goals for the coming seasons with the club, Rudland’s hopes are straight forward, “To continue building off of the progress we have made over the past 4 seasons.” “Looking back, it's hard to believe that it's already been 4 years with the club, which makes me even more eager to carry on pursuing our club objectives,” he would add. The intentions of the club for players is straight forward as well, “make the play-offs, provide players with a first-class football experience and help men push on to achieve their football ambitions.”
Rudland joined AFC Ann Arbor ahead of the 2016 season from Lansing United. Prior to that experience, though, he had a handful of other stops around not just Michigan, but elsewhere in the footballing world. Rudland spent the 2004-05 season within the Crewe Alexandra set-up in England with the EFL Championship side. His first head coaching job was at Spring Arbor University before he moved to Madonna as an assistant coach. At the club level, he spent a year with Michigan Bucks before moving to Lansing United. In addition, he also currently serves as a Director of Coaching for Rush Soccer.
Since coming to Ann Arbor, he has led The Mighty Oak to four regional playoff appearances in the first four seasons within the NPSL for the club – something that no other active team has done. While the season remains off in the distance, fans of the club can rest assured that their head coach will remain in place for the club as it will embark on another thrilling year.