Bridgeview, IL (July 1, 2012) - The Michigan Bucks finished the season series with the Chicago Fire Premier on Sunday and put a huge damper on the perennial powerhouse’s playoff chances. The 2-0 road win for the Bucks moves their Premier Development League (PDL) season record to 10-0-2 (32 points), while the Fire drop to 3-5-3 (12 points) in fifth place with just four games left to play. The top three teams in the eight team division move on to the post season in two weeks time.
In a game delayed sixty minutes due to weather, both teams came out ready to play and moved the ball up and down the field at will. Chicago had the better of the first half chances out shooting the visitors 7-4 in the first half and had a 6-2 edge in corner kicks. The Bucks defense was solid on Sunday as it has been all season long led by center backs Kevin Cope and Seb Harris, who dominated the game in the air. The Bucks did have several first half chances that were all created on counter attacking through the midfield between Scott Caldwell, Nermin Crnkic and Tom Catalano. The three worked well together and played several balls into the area for forward Anthony Grant, who would have two great first half opportunities saved by Fire keeper David Meves and another sure goal rejected by the near goal post. The Bucks were content to go to the half scoreless, where head coach Gary Parsons made the necessary adjustments to the offensive plan.
The Bucks wasted no time in the second half in putting the Fire under constant pressure and would finally break the scoreless draw in the 51st minute when Man of the Match Crnkic would steal a ball at midfield, take on two defenders before slotting a perfect pass into the path of Grant, who first timed his shot past Meves for a 1-0 lead. Grant’s goal would be his team leading sixth of the season; but that would be matched just two minutes later. Crnkic took a neatly played ball from Nate Boyden on the left flank, beat two men as he cut across the middle of the penalty area and ripped a twelve yard shot into the side netting for a 2-0 lead and his sixth tally on the season to match Grant for the team lead. The Bucks would continue to pound at the Fire goal for the next ten minutes but could not get the third goal past Meves.
In the Bucks goal, Sean Teepen registered seven saves on the day for his fourth shutout of the season in raising his record to 5-0-1 for the campaign. In addition to making several key saves, Teepen was helped out all day by his strong back line and got some help from the cross bar on two occasions. Bucks coach Gary Parsons was excited about what he saw from his club, who remains the only unbeaten PDL club in the 73 team league. “We played some very nice soccer the past two games and I really like the way this team is coming together. We knew with our US Open Cup run that we had a special group this year, but the more I have the pleasure of working with these guys, the more excited I get. We thought at the start of the season it would take twelve wins to defend our Great Lakes Division title and we have ten with four to play so I really like where we are right now.”
Bucks Chairman/CEO Dan Duggan was happy to finish off the regular season with teams from Chicago, having played six games against three different teams from the Windy City this year. “Every sports fan in Detroit understands the competitive nature of any Detroit/ Chicago sporting event. It started decades ago with hockey and football and in recent years has heated up in basketball and baseball as well. I am just happy to say that the Bucks have done their part this year to give the Detroit fans bragging rights. It’s always nice to beat the Fire, but it really means something to the players because of the quality of the team they had to defeat. If today’s opponent can somehow manage to make the playoffs, they are going to be tough to play against.”
The Bucks took the season series from the Fire PDL side with a record of 2-0-1 and won both games against the expansion Chicago Inferno. For good measure, the Bucks also beat the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer in the US Open Cup to make the season record 6-0-1 against their Illinois neighbors.
The team will take a few well deserved days off to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday, while several of the players take the week to train with MLS clubs. The Bucks will resume with their next game on Saturday, July 7 at Ultimate Soccer Arenas, one of only two remaining home games on the season when the Cincinnati Kings come to town for the final time. Tickets for the game are $10 Adults and $7 Youth but can be purchased for the special pre sale price of only $6 by visiting the Bucks web site at www.buckssoccer.com and clicking on the TICKETS link.