Berkley, MI (May 30, 2007) - The 2006 North American champion Michigan Bucks had a rough night on Wednesday. First they learned that their first round opponent in the 2007 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup was the Division 2 Professional defending champion Richmond Kickers, and then they had to go and play Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Columbus Crew. In front of an enthusiastic crowd on a perfect evening for soccer, the Crew gave the Bucks a valuable lesson (if they are going to advance in this year’s Open Cup tournament), when they exploded for three first half goals in a fifteen minute span to lead the young team 3-0 at halftime. Both teams came out aggressive, but it was the speed and quickness of the MLS side that provided most of the first half scoring action, including three spectacular saves by goal keeper Steve Clark (Oakland) to keep the game scoreless. It wasn’t until defender Alex Morriset was called for a foul in the penalty area in the 25th minute that Clark was totally exposed. Eddie Gaven put the first goal past a diving Clark, who nearly saved his second penalty kick of the year. It was only four minutes later when the Crew built a counter attack down the right side of the field and played forward Kei Kamara in on goal. Kamara cracked a sizzling shot into the upper short side corner that Clark never had a chance at. Kamara would close out the scoring in the 40th minute when he took a centering pass from Brandon Moss and finished his second strike of the night. The Bucks usually potent offense created several chances throughout the game, but could not connect and penetrate a very disciplined Columbus defense.
The second half continued with entertaining soccer at both ends of the pitch, without the first half finishes. After the Bucks played two draining US Open Cup matches on Saturday and Monday to qualify for the 2007 tournament, they needed fresh legs throughout the night to try and keep pace with the top notch professionals. Several of the 2007 Bucks players saw their first action of the season tonight, including backup goalkeeper Mitch Hildenbrandt, a high school senior from Livonia Stevenson. Mitch made his PDL debut in the 61st minute and made his first save against the professionals in the 62nd minute- less than one minute into his career. Although the 3-0 final score went in favor of the Crew, the Bucks coaches were pleased with the progress made on the night.
Said Coach Dan Fitzgerald, “We have several objectives in this annual meeting with the Crew and one of them is not necessarily winning the game. Although that would be nice, the real achievement here is to understand what is happening on the other side of the field. The Crew represent what every one of our players are striving to become, and they must start now to fully appreciate the commitment that is made to succeed at the highest level in this country. I think all of our players saw the intensity in the eyes of each of the Crew players tonight and the energy each of them brought to an exhibition match. The Crew did not come here to play the Bucks, they came here as professionals to keep their jobs and earn a living- that is a huge difference as to the attitude of most amateur players coming to play in a summer environment. This is the exact same type of environment the Bucks try to emulate each year.”
Added assistant coach Brett Jacobs, “We really like to use this match as a tune up for the boys for Open Cup to try to fully understand the speed of play at the next level. If we can firstly understand the speed of play and secondly adapt to it, then we will have an opportunity to make some noise in the upcoming tournament. If we play at a casual PDL level, we will not earn the right to get to the ensuing rounds to meet another MLS club when it real means something.”
The Bucks will continue with league play on Friday night when they host the West Michigan Edge at Bloomfield Andover High School at 8:00 PM. The game is sponsored by the Bloomfield Force Soccer Club and the night will include pre game youth training sessions before the match. Tickets are $10 Adult (16 and over) and $5 Youth (under 5 free) and available at the gate. After road games in Toronto and Cleveland next week, the Bucks will then begin preparation for the Round One match of the Open Cup on Tuesday, June 12 in Richmond, Virginia against the defending D2 Professional Champion Richmond Kickers. Kick off is set for 7:00 PM and details will follow shortly. For more detailed information about the nation’s oldest tournament, please visit usopencup.com to find all the history of the Cup, including the Bucks unprecedented PDL success since they first entered the Cup in 1997.
For more information, visit the team web site at buckssoccer.com.
Columbus Crew vs. Michigan Bucks
May 30, 2007 -- Hurley Field -- Berkley, MI
CLB -- Eddie Gaven (PK) 25
CLB -- Kei Kamara (unassisted) 29
CLB -- Kei Kamara (Brandon Moss) 40
Columbus Crew: Bill Gaudette (Will Hesmer 46), Brandon Moss, Chad Marshall, Jed Zayner (Ben Hunter 59), Ricky Lewis, Aaron Chandler (Ricardo Virtuoso 59), Danny Szetela, Tim Ward, Eddie Gaven, Kei Kamara (Jacob Thomas 59), Robbie Rogers
Subs not used: none
Head Coach: Sigi Schmid
Michigan Bucks -- Steve Clark (Mitch Hildenbrandt 62), Kyle Russell, Mike Holody (Santos Perez 58), Ian Daniel (Nate Zuzga 59), Dan Stevens (Steve Brust 46), Ty Shipalane (Nick Djokic 46), John Palladino (Djamel Becca 59), Alex Morisset (Piotr Nowak 46), Kenny Uzoigwe (Doug DeMartin 46), Nate Jafta (George Josten 46), Mkhokheli Dube (Steve Bonnell 59)
Subs not used: Doug Rice, Xavier Balc, Eric Brunner
Head Coach: Dan Fitzgerald