Players in action one final time in championship match Saturday
Pontiac, MI (August 3, 2016)- Michigan Bucks defenders Lalas Abubaker (Ghana/ Dayton) and captain Tom Owens (England) were named to the PDL All League team by the United Soccer League’s (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) officials today. The two defenders were only a small portion of the Bucks outstanding defense that led the 67 team league in goals against this year with only seven goals conceded in fourteen regular season matches and zero goals allowed in three playoff games leading up to this Saturday’s PDL North American Championship at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, MI (7:30 pm kick off). Tickets for the final game against Calgary Foothills FC are only $6 and available at the gate.
Abubaker has quickly become a hot commodity with Major League Soccer coaches, as his spectacular athletic ability, speed and strength have drawn attention while featuring as a center back for the Bucks this summer. Abubaker not only wins nearly every head ball in the defensive zone, but he has proven to be a major offensive threat as well on set pieces and corner kicks from the Bucks attack.
Owens has completed his third season with the Bucks and led the team to their second ever PDL North American title in 2014, as well as back to back PDL Regular Season titles in 2015 and 2016. Owens scored the game winning goal in the Bucks 1-0 championship game against the Kitsap Pumas in 2014 and has a goal and two assists from his dominating defensive midfield position this season. The Liverpool native also lead FC London to the PDL championship in 2012 before coming over to the Bucks and looks to become the first player in PDL history to win three championships in a five year span.
Bucks head coach Demir Muftari who is a finalist for PDL Coach of the Year (to be announced Friday) was happy with the post season selections but couldn’t help but mention a missing piece to the post season accolades. Tom and Lalas for sure deserve to be recognized for their stellar seasons this year and you could have selected Brad Ruhaak or Brad Dunwell as well and we wouldn’t have been disappointed because our defense has been one of the best the PDL has ever seen. But so has our offense, which led the PDL in scoring. I believe we are the only team with three strikers with more than 10 goals and we had the league’s assist leader in Adam Najem but somehow our offense was overlooked. I understand with 2,000 players across 67 teams it is hard to imagine three players from the same team being in the top eleven, but I do feel one of our attackers could have been recognized as well. That being said, I have no idea how the voting works, who votes or any of the back ground so we are grateful that we have two of our players selected.”
The dual Bucks selections to the league’s top eleven represents a PDL record sixth time that multiple players from a Bucks team have graced the top eleven. Since the All PDL team began in 2003, the Bucks have had two players selected in 2007, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2016. The team set another PDL high in 2012 when they had three players named to the PDL All League team (Adam Grinwis, Kevin Cope, Tom Catalano).
The Bucks prepare for their fifth PDL Final this Saturday by playing the Calgary Foothills FC, a Canadian side in only their second PDL season. Calgary is led by their leading scorer Dominic Russo who was also chosen to the PDL All League team for his six goal and one assist performance during the regular season. The two teams have never met before and this is Foothills first trip to the PDL playoffs.
Tickets to the game are $6 general admission, all ages and available at the door. Children 5 and under are always free to Bucks home games. For groups, teams or clubs wanting to get discounted tickets for bringing a group of 20 or more to the game, please contact Kelly Haapala at 248-521-2179. To follow the Bucks, please visit the web site at www.buckssoccer.com or follow us on Instagram and Twitter @MichiganBucks, as well as on Facebook.