Bucks Stumble in Dayton for Second Straight Season
Head to Canton Cup on Saturday to host Chaos
Dayton, OH (May 24, 2017)- The Michigan Bucks ventured away from Pontiac for the first time this season and for the first time in four matches yielded a goal and came away with a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Dayton Dutch Lions. The Bucks dominated the game for ninety minutes and made only two errors all night- but those two errors ended up costing the team their three game 2017 winning streak.
The Bucks dominated possession in the first half of play but struggled to get their offense on track playing on a very narrow field at DOC Stadium. The first half was littered with throw ins and off sides as the team tried to get the opening score of the game. Dayton goal keeper Michael Yantz ended up being the star on the evening for the home side, as he registered seven saves, but weathered the Bucks attack for the entire game. Bucks defensive midfielders Tom Owens and Brad Dunwell did most of the organizing work, while wingers Jordan Snell and Francis Atuahene bombed up and down the outside flanks looking for an opening. The home side went into the halftime break scoreless, while not registering an offensive shot on goal.
The Bucks came out in the second half and continued the one way traffic as they constantly knocked balls over the top to create chances. The stingy Lions defense was up to the task and when the Bucks beat the back line, they could not beat Yantz in the net. Atuahene looked like he was going to finally get the Bucks on the board in the 62nd minute when he flew into the penalty area from a tight angle but his shot went over the bar for a Lions goal kick.
The Bucks seemed to have everything in order and were solid defensively for the entire game, except for two mental errors. In the 69th minute, Bucks goal keeper Drew Shepherd left his goal to attempt to keep a ball from going over the end line near the edge of the 18 yard box. He succeeded in keeping the ball in play but when he pushed the ball off the end line, Lions striker Gustavo Nasimento said “thank you very much” and calmly put the ball into an empty goal for a 1-0 lead.
Nine minutes later the Bucks would get lazy for a moment on the back line and gave reserve forward Hussin Al-Yassiri a free break on Shepherd, who came way out to meet the forward but could not stop his shot and Dayton had a 2-0 lead with ten minutes to play. The two goals are the only goals yielded by Shepherd and the Bucks defense all season.
The Bucks continued to pound to try and get back into the game and they finally broke through when Captain Tom Owens sent a long ball over the top to the left flank where Bucks new comber Jacob Bevan collected the pass and made a bee line for the goal and beat Yantz with a low left footed shot on the near post to cut the lead to 2-1. The Bucks would have several other chances as time expired but could not get the equalizer and saw their PDL record fall to 1-1 on the season, while Dayton jumped into first place in the Great Lakes Division with a 2-0 record.
Bucks Director of Coaching Gary Parsons was reserved after the game but did compliment the home side. “We told the guys before the game that in the PDL, all 14 games matter and nobody cares what you did last week or last year. Dayton came out and played us tough on their home field and we did a pretty good job for the most part. But soccer is a funny game. You can have possession 90% of the time, but if you don’t score and the other team does, you lose. We made two huge mistakes tonight and they made us pay for them. We will learn from this and since we have to play them two more times this season, we will have the ability to still win the season series. Until then we focus on our next home game this coming Saturday,” said the long time Bucks coach.
The Bucks host the West Virginia Chaos on Saturday at the Canton Cup Memorial Day Soccer Tournament when they kick off their matinee game (Noon) at Independence Park for the tenth consecutive season. Admission to the Bucks game at the 35th annual tournament is free compliments of the Canton Cup organizing committee and the Canton Soccer Club. The annual event is the highlight on one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in North America, where over 600 teams compete from all over the mid west and Canada.
BUCKS HOST US OPEN CUP AND TOM FORD CELEBRATION ON TUESDAY, MAY 30th IN PONTIAC
The Michigan Bucks will host professional side St. Louis FC (USL- D2) on Tuesday, May 30 at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac (8 PM kick off) in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup soccer tournament. The team will also use the event to Celebrate the Career of Tom Ford and to kick off the “Help T Ford Kick ALS!!!”
Campaign. On May 10, Ford learned that he suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and was recently forced to step down from his role of the past 30 years as the Associate Athletic Trainer at Oakland University. The majority of the proceeds for all tickets purchased to this event will be donated to Tom Ford and his family, who will be honored at halftime with a special presentation from his Oakland University family and friends. Tickets for the match will be $10 at the door (all ages, 5 and under free) but can be purchased at the special price of only $8 online at www.buckssoccer.com.
To keep up with the Bucks in PDL and US Open Cup action, please visit the web site at www.buckssoccer.com or follow us Twitter @MichiganBucks, as well as on Facebook @MichiganBucksSoccer and Instagram @MichiganBucksPDL.
Bucks US Open Cup Match to Celebrate the Career of Tom Ford
Oakland University legend stricken with ALS to be honored at halftime
Pontiac, MI (May 23, 2017)- While the Michigan Bucks have been making headlines all over the country for their outstanding start to the season and last week’s upset of the NASL’s Indy Eleven in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup tournament, it was heartbreaking news from close to home that has put a damper on the Bucks organization. Longtime friend of the program, Tom Ford was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) on May 10th and stepped away from his duties at Oakland University as the Associate Athletic Trainer, a position he has excelled in for the past thirty years.
To honor this local legend, the Bucks are celebrating the Career of Tom Ford and his family at the Bucks US Open Cup Round Three match up with the professional side St. Louis FC (D2 United Soccer Leagues). Fans will be able to sign a banner that will be presented to Tom and his family at halftime along with a large portion of the proceeds from the tickets to the game on Tuesday, May 30th (8:00 PM kick off). Presale tickets will be available by Wednesday for only $8 (all ages, 5 and under free) online at www.buckssoccer.com. Any remaining tickets available at the door will be sold for $10. The winner of the Bucks-St. Louis FC game will host the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer on June 14th so with everything at stake, the team expects a sold out stadium.
The Bucks are planning a special halftime presentation to honor the man, known around campus simply as “T Ford,” and that tribute will be led by Tom’s longtime friend and former Oakland University men’s soccer coach Gary Parsons. Parsons retired from Oakland to become the Michigan Bucks Director of Coaching nearly a decade ago. “This is going to be a gut wrenching night for many of us next Tuesday,” said Parsons. “While the Bucks are trying to make history in a very big challenge on the field against a pro team, all I will be thinking about is the only thing that really matters in life and that is the future for Tom and his family. He was the absolute best at what he did and I was honored to have him work alongside me for most of our professional careers. We know we can’t dwell on what has happened so we have to focus on what we can do to help this man who has helped more student athletes and their families then anyone can ever imagine. I know the Oakland family will be there to support our all time favorite Pioneer and Golden Grizzly. It is going to be a very emotional night, both on and off the field.”
Bucks owner Dan Duggan is working diligently with the staff at Oakland University to make this a special night for both the family and the school. “Oakland University has meant a lot to the Michigan Bucks over the years and it certainly has produced some quality human beings outside of just soccer. Tom has been a special friend for so many years that when I heard the news, the first thing I thought of is that we have to use this set back and try and make something positive out of it. That sounds hard to do, but it starts with raising awareness and then raising money. We have lots of time to do that, but what is really important to all of us now is to call a time out and use this stage to say “thank you” to one of the most lovable families this area of the country has even known. We all hope the Bucks can win on Tuesday night, but what is really important is to help T Ford win this battle; one most of us know very little about but are quickly beginning to learn.”
Details about the huge event a week from now are still being finalized and will circulated as they are complete. The Bucks travel to Dayton to play the Dutch Lions this week Tuesday and then return home to play host to the West Virginia Chaos at their annual matinee appearance at the Canton Cup Memorial Day Soccer Tournament this Saturday (Noon kick off). Admission to the Bucks 10th annual game at the Canton Cup is free courtesy of the Canton Cup organizing committee and the Canton Soccer Club. Following those two Premier Development League games (PDL), the team will rest up for a couple of days before professional soccer returns to town for US Open Cup action.
To follow the Bucks and to keep up on all of our efforts to raise ALS awareness and to find out more about next Tuesday’s special Tom Ford celebration, follow the team onTwitter @MichiganBucks, as well as on Facebook @MichiganBucksSoccer and Instagram @MichiganBucksPDL. Further updates and pre sale tickets will also be available at www.buckssoccer.com.
Anyone wanting to offer help or assistance to the #TFordStrong campaign to help the Ford family raise money and awareness for ALS, please contact Dan Duggan at email@example.com. Contributions can also be made at the Tom Ford GO FUND ME link at https://www.gofundme.com/t-fords-gatorade-fund which was started by several of Tom’s student athletes at Oakland University.
D4 team shuts out D2 pros 1-0
Pontiac, MI (May 18, 2017)- The Michigan Bucks continued to add to their legacy as “giant killers” when they defeated last year’s NASL Spring Season champs Indy Eleven 1-0 on Wednesday night at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac. Francis Atuahene (Ghana/ University of Michigan) scored the game’s only goal to send the Bucks to Round Three of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Tuesday, May 30th at Ultimate Soccer Arenas, where they will host another Division 2 pro side in St. Louis FC. It was Atuahene’s second game winning goal in a week (Saturday vs K-W United).
The Bucks started the game slow, feeling out the opposition as they tried to get a feel for the pace of the talented professional team. Former Bucks star David Goldsmith (England/ ButlerUniversity) returned to the friendly confines of Ultimate Soccer Arenas where he proudly wore the Bucks jersey for three seasons, was happy to be home again and nearly spoiled the party for the Bucks fans. In the 16th minute he unleashed a rocket that went off the right goal post and bounced to Indy striker Justin Braun. Braun’s one timer was saved by Bucks keeper Drew Shepherd (Ann Arbor, MI/ Western Michigan) for an Indy Eleven corner kick.
From that point the Bucks got the wake up call and started to play their attacking style of soccer that keeps defenses on their heels. The speedy Atuahene got into the action by taking on three defenders as he ran the length of the field to earn the Bucks first corner kick. In the 30th minute he appeared to be pulled down in the penalty box, but the referee was having nothing to do with the call in the scoreless match. Atuahene kept attacking and in the 35th minute he took a pass from Jordan Snell (Palm Bay, FL) and blew by his defender and slotted home a right footed shot that went under Indy keeper Keith Cardona to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
The goal ignited the Bucks players and they pounded towards a second goal before halftime but couldn’t break down Indy’s final third. Both keepers finished the first half with one save, but the Bucks went into the locker room with momentum.
Michigan started attacking from the opening whistle in the second half but really didn’t make much of their chances until Bucks head coach Demir Muftari inserted forward Elliott Collier (New Zealand/ Loyola) to add some pressure to the Indy back four. Collier made an immediate impact and freed up Atuahene for more open looks. In a four minute span between the 67th minute and the 71st minute, Francis had three glorious opportunities to give the Bucks a two goal lead, but failed to connect on any of them.
Meanwhile, Indy did put a bit of pressure on the Bucks back line and Shepherd was forced to make three second half saves to register his third shut out in the three Bucks games so far this season. The Bucks maintained most of the possession the last ten minutes of the game to keep the pressure off the newly shaped back line that was missing center back Nick Walker due to injury.
Three Bucks injuries forced Muftari to make changes all over the park and the team responded well. “The only good thing about playing a pro team of this caliber this early in the season is that we aren’t familiar enough with each other to have any real effect on the changes we were forced to make due to injury. We played with three in the back for the first time this year and knew it would be a gamble, but also knew it would help us spring some life into our offense. Give credit to the players who made the adjustments that we hadn’t even worked on in practice. The guys looked like pros tonight and definitely belonged on the field with Indy Eleven. We learned some very important info about our team that will help us in the PDL season and hopefully will help us have a solid game against the next pro team we play in two weeks (St. Louis FC),” said Muftari.
The Bucks improved their record to an incredible 10-9-1 against all professional teams ever faced in the US Open Cup, a record that may never be matched. Wednesday night’s game was also a Division 4 record 28th time the Bucks played a US Open Cup game and was their 15th win overall (15-11-2). The Bucks learned that the winner of the Round Three match up with St. Louis FC will host the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer on June 14. Bucks fans will remember the last time the Bucks hosted the Fire in the Open Cup. In a thrilling match, the Bucks beat their second ever MLS team in 2012 with a 3-2 over time victory inside Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
The Bucks have nearly a week off to heal up before they head to Dayton to take on the Dutch Lions next Tuesday and then come back for a matinee game on Saturday, May 27th at the Canton Cup soccer tournament where this year’s foe is the West Virginia Chaos (12 noon kick off). Then it is back to Ultimate Soccer Arenas on Tuesday, May 30 to host St. Louis FC from USL (Division 2 pro) in Round Three of the US Open Cup with a potential date with the Chicago Fire on the horizon.
Ticket info and details of the Open Cup match will be announced in the next 24 hours. Keep up on all of the Bucks results, news and features at the Michigan Bucks web site at www.buckssoccer.com and follow us on Twitter @MichiganBucks, as well as on Facebook @MichiganBucksSoccer and Instagram @MichiganBucksPDL.
NASL champs Indy Eleven come to town for US Open Cup
Pontiac, MI (May 14, 2017)- The Michigan Bucks opened their 22nd Premier Development League (PDL) season in style on Saturday night with an important 2-0 win over perennial powerhouse K-W United. It took two late goals to defeat the 2015 PDL champs and a stout defense, which recorded its second shut out in three days. The Bucks now look to Wednesday’s huge match up against one of the top second division professional teams in the country. Indy Eleven were last year’s NASL spring champion and going into Saturday night’s match against Miami FC, were undefeated in the 2017 campaign. The two teams face off in Round Two of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Wednesday night at Ultimate Soccer Arenas (kick off 7:30 PM). Tickets are $10 Adults and $7 Youth (16 and under) at the door. Children 5 and under are always free to Bucks home games. Specially priced discounted pre sale tickets are available for only $6 until Tuesday online at www.buckssoccer.com.
Saturday night’s match against K-W United started out with the Bucks possessing most of the ball and taking the action to the visitors. United’s organized defense kept the Bucks from doing any early damage, although the home side did get a couple of early chances. Francis Atuahene (Ghana/ University of Michigan) streaked down the right flank in the sixth minute and got off a low shot that was pushed away by K-W keeper Dayne St. Clair. Daniel de Oliveira (Brazil) had the best chance of the first half for the Bucks when he ripped a 25 yard bomb that St. Clair was just able to tip over the bar to keep the Bucks off the board.
Bucks goal keeper Drew Shepherd (Ann Arbor/ Western Michigan) wasn’t tested until the 25th minute, but he came up with a big save on K-W’s only corner kick of the night. Shepherd registered his second clean sheet in two games after shutting out AFC Ann Arbor in the first round of the US Open Cup on Wednesday night. He finished the night being forced to make only three saves due to the stellar work of his defense, anchored by center backs Mo Kaba (Guinea) and Nick Walker (Trinidad).
The Bucks continued to dominate the game in the second half as they patiently tried to break down the hard working Canadian team defense. The spark that the Bucks needed came when Canadian native Austin Ricci (Toronto/ Oakland University) made his first appearance in a Bucks uniform in the 62nd minute. It didn’t take the speedy forward long to make an impact when he took a pass outside the box, dribbled into the penalty area and was cut down for a Bucks penalty kick. Ivo Cerda (Chile/ University of Michigan) stepped up to the spot, but sent his shot high over the cross bar to keep the game scoreless.
Although the missed PK looked to put a damper on the Bucks chances, the team rallied and applied continuous pressure while K-W started to tire defensively. In the 79th minute, Atuahene took a pass from Jared Timmer (Hudsonville, MI/ Butler) and finished the game’s first goal with a shot the just barely made its way over the line behind keeper St. Clair.
Knowing that United was always a threat to find a game tying goal, the offense kept possession and Cerda made up for his missed PK by slotting a ball to Ricci on the fly. Ricci took one touch past the last defender and beat St. Clair to the ball and coolly slotted home a right footed shot inside the far post for the 2-0 victory. The 84th minute goal sealed the deal for the home side and put the Bucks at the top of the table in the Great Lakes Division.
Reigning PDL Coach of the Year Demir Muftari was happy to get through the first week with two victories over very difficult opponents. “When I looked at the schedule and saw a US Open Cup game on May 10 and the PDL opener on May 13, I was nervous because the team was just arriving and had only a couple of sessions together. These are two big games and as it turns out we faced one of the better NPSL teams (AFC AA) and one of the best PDL teams in a span of three days. We figured that if we can get through these two games with wins and healthy bodies, we will put ourselves in a good position to try and compete with a great professional team in Indy Eleven. Now that we survived week one, the strategy looks brilliant but I wasn’t quite sure about that two weeks ago.”
Although the Bucks have never played Indy Eleven in the NASL team’s brief existence, the team does have some familiar faces. The Bucks will welcome back two former players that made a huge impact on the team in previous years. Ben Speas played two seasons for the Bucks in 2009 and 2010 while attending the University of Akron. Also featuring for Indy is a Bucks fan favorite David Goldsmith, who spent three seasons with the Bucks helping the team earn two PDL regular season titles (2015, 2016) and two PDL North American championships (2014, 2016). Indy Eleven Coach Tim Hankinson returns to participate in his second US Open Cup tournament game in the state of Michigan. Hankinson was the head coach of Major League Soccer’s Tampa Bay Mutiny when that team defeated the Bucks 2-1 in Saginaw back on July 12, 1999.
Keep up with the Bucks all season long, go to the Bucks web site and sign up for the Michigan Bucks Insider newsletter and follow the team on social media on Twitter @MichiganBucks, as well as on Facebook @MichiganBucksSoccer and Instagram @MichiganBucksPDL.
PDL 2016 Championship MVP Russell Cicerone with PDL Director Todd Eason
Coach Muftari PDL Coach of the Year, Adam Najem Creative Player of the Year and Lalas Abubakar Defender of the Year