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‘Flash’-cards: Five notes from Western New York’s opening win


Blitzers draw home opener against Detroit City FC

Photo courtesy of Nate Benson

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

There are few worse feelings in soccer than celebrating a goal before realizing that the head referee’s linesman has his flag in the air, signalling offside.

In the 89th minute, with the match scoreless between FC Buffalo and Detroit City FC, the Blitzers’ Gary Boughton drove a long ball to fellow midfielder Josh Faga, who nodded the ball cleanly past Detroit keeper Jeremy Clark into the left corner. As the duo jubilantly raced to the right corner flag to celebrate, the linesman held his yellow flag in the air.

“I was absolutely onside—right before I made the run, I made sure I was dead-even with the defender, and as soon as I released I knew I was onside, and that’s why when I finished I thought we scored,” Faga reflected. “When I saw the flag go up, I couldn’t believe it.”

The match ended 0-0, a frustrating result for FC Buffalo’s head coach Dan Krzyzanowicz and the 351 supporters in attendance at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium.

“Sometimes you’re really happy after a scoreless draw because you feel the result deserved to get a point, but tonight I’m real disappointed. I felt like there were plenty of chances where we’d have a goal—I thought we earned a goal, but it just didn’t happen,” said Krzyzanowicz, who’s in his second season at the helm while also coaching Medaille College men’s soccer. “I felt like we played well enough to earn three points, so to walk away with one is a bit disappointing.”

Detroit City FC dominated the first 20 minutes of play, as looming midfielders John Dreshaj (formerly Oakland University, Michigan Bucks) and Adam Bedell (Detroit University)—who both stand over 6’4—won seemingly every challenge in the air, and Craig Hearn (formerly Michigan State) was a dribbling menace.

Thanks to Krzyzanowicz’s speedy backline of Josh Hall and Pat Zelko on the outside and Kendell McFayden and Josiah Snelgrove inside, the Blitzers were able to keep pace and deny Detroit an early advantage.

“I thought that we weathered the storm early,” said Snelgrove, a product of Houghton College and the Charlotte Eagles. “[Allowing that pressure] just had to do with us not practicing much, not gelling as a team. I think we got our rhythm after that, and we probably should have gotten into the locker room with one or two [goals].”

“I thought Josh Hall was fantastic for us tonight at the right back,” Krzyzanowicz added, “and I thought Pat Zelko in the first half at left back made them keep #4 [Tom Oatley] at home, and then Detroit moved him to the middle and to the opposite side, and I thought that was really due to how well Pat played him. Kendell McFayden, he was the man of the match tonight—he was a man among boys.”

FC Buffalo dodged a bullet in the 31st minute, as a deflection off a corner kick landed at the feet of Detroit’s Mahamoudou Kaba at the top of the six-yard box, but the 16-year-old West African prodigy skied his shot well over Eric DeHond’s net. 

Two minutes later, shifty Buffalo midfielder/forward Mike Reidy turned beautifully just outside the 18-yard box and snapped a shot that rattled off the left post and away from danger. In stoppage time before the half, Detroit’s goalie Clark darted far from his net to punch away a cross, but the ball landed in front of Boughton, who clipped a cross in front to his former Medaille teammate McFayden, whose header bounced off the right post and out of bounds.

“[Detroit] wasn’t really marking me which is really odd for me because I’m usually one of the first people that gets marked,” McFayden, whose exceptional vertical leap is dangerous off set pieces, admitted. “I just couldn’t put one on frame today.”

The momentum swung the other direction after halftime, as FC Buffalo keeper DeHond strayed from his line to haul in Bedell’s long throw-in but over-committed—an alert McFayden, however, bailed out his goalie by clearing the ball off the goal line.

“We got caught a bit in a scramble, our defense was a little out of whack. My first train of thought is to cover the goal,” McFayden explained about the play.

Before Faga’s goal was waved off, Detroit City earned two quality chances in the FC Buffalo’s 18-yard box, but Josiah Snelgrove blocked one with his head before recovering quickly to reject the follow-up opportunity as well.

“That’s indoor right there,” Snelgrove explained. “I played with the Rochester Lancers this winter, and learning how to time blocked shots is obviously important in indoor.”

Detroit City’s Josh Rogers earned his second yellow card in the 91st minute, leaving head coach Kylie Stannard‘s team a man down for FC Buffalo’s last-gasp attempt. Boughton whipped the ensuing free kick into the box—and it bounced around dangerously for a few seconds before a desperate clearance preserved the tie.

“I think our set pieces were a big strength of ours tonight,” Boughton said post-game. “It’s tough when we’re not on the same page a lot throughout the game because it’s our first chance together, so we tried to take advantage when we could set something up. Obviously Kendell is a huge threat coming into the box from the back, and we try to get him the ball in front of goal as much as we can.”

The Blitzers travel to Cleveland next Friday night for a clash against AFC Cleveland, who drew Detroit City FC on Saturday night 1-1. The next home game is at 3 p.m. on May 27 against AFC Cleveland at Robert E. RIch All-High Stadium.

FC Buffalo lineup: DeHond; Zelko, Snelgrove, McFayden, Hall; Reidy, Stedman (Grabowski 75’), Faga, Boughton; Rouse, Tiedt (Cwiklinski 68’).

TAGGED: buffalo blitzers, dan krzyzanowicz, fc buffalo, gary boughton, josh faga, josiah snelgrove, kendell mcfayden, npsl soccer, soccer

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