Blitzers get ‘Bull’-ish with roster
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 19, 2013 @ 10:28am
FC Buffalo head coach Brendan Murphy took advantage of his previous stint as an assistant coach with the University at Buffalo Bulls to sign two players: midfielder Richard Craven and defender-forward Anthony Johnson.
The two are vastly different players, but both should contribute in their own ways. Craven has the best chance for immediate playing time this summer, as the English attacking center midfielder brings considerable Division I experience and reasonable production despite little help in the offensive third with Dave Hesch’s Bulls.
As a junior, Craven tied forward Maksym Kowal with four goals and two assists to pace UB, and having watched his performance in the 1-1 season-opening draw against Canisius, it’s clear that Craven possesses both the work-rate and creativity demanded from the middle of the pitch.
His intelligent late run to slot home the rebound of a Stephen Mounnarat shot earned him UB’s lone marker, but he nearly put UB in front late in the second half with a clever flick to Kowal, who bungled his chance.
Hesch praised Craven’s versatility and comfort in the box after UB downed Florida Atlantic on Oct. 19.
“Rich has a great nose for the goal,” Hesch said to Brandon Barnes of the UB Spectrum. “It is a luxury to have a center midfielder that you can put at the top at times. He does a great job around the box.”
Johnson is a familiar name in Western New York sports, as the three-sport star was one of the greatest pure athletes in Kenmore East High School history. He won the 2007 New York State Championships in the 100-meter dash and earned the Section VI title in three straight years.
The Bo Jackson-type ran the point for the Bulldogs basketball team and collected All-NFL honors, but he started his collegiate career as a soccer player at Division III Buffalo State College—even though he was recruited by Syracuse and Maine—before transferring for his final three years to UB.
The UB alum is most valuable as an outside back with a penchant for pushing forward, as his speed-strength combination on the flanks can be lethal—particularly as a late-game substitute. His technical gifts still lag behind his athleticism, however, so expectations have to be a little tempered for this signing. Still, if Johnson’s used correctly, he’ll be an asset to the Blitzers in some fashion.
For the club’s full 22-man roster, browse FC Buffalo’s new website, which is quite functional and holds quite a bit more detail. More players could be added to the fold in the coming days, as there will probably be a three-to-five player practice squad in addition to the 20 active players.