Downward spiral continues for Blitzers
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • July 02, 2012 @ 10:14am
Thought the low point of FC Buffalo’s season was the double defeat to rival Erie in early June? You’re wrong. After dropping a lopsided 4-0 result to Detroit City FC on Saturday night, the Blitzers were pulverized by Greater Binghamton FC 4-1 Sunday afternoon. If the season ended today, FC Buffalo would be the lone team in the five-club NPSL Midwest-Great Lakes Conference to miss the post-season.
Dangerous striker Sergey Molchanovich scored and registered three assists for Binghamton, while Cody Healey potted two goals. Former Medaille striker Alexander Rouse netted the Blitzers lone goal, but back-to-back games, a tough travel schedule and a spate of injuries sapped the Blitzers of enough energy and talent to compete.
According to the Press & Sun Bulletin, Molchanovich repeatedly beat Buffalo defenders to the end line and found fellow attackers Healey and Mike Spadine in good scoring position. Two of Detroit City’s four goals on Saturday were off crosses, too, as in-the-box marking has been a struggle for Buffalo.
To make matters worse, GBFC’s win propels the club (nine points) over FC Buffalo (seven points) in the standings. If the season ended today, FC Buffalo would miss the playoffs, but there’s still a glimmer of hope. The Blitzers journey to Cleveland Friday for the season’s final match, desperate for a win and a Greater Binghamton loss to Erie. The Press & Sun Bulletin notes that Binghamton clinches a playoff berth with a win or a tie, but we’re still awaiting confirmation from the NPSL on tie-breakers. In nearly every important category—wins, head-to-head match-ups, goal differential and fewest goals conceded—GBFC holds the advantage.
The Blitzers’ starting back four of Chris Walter (current Hartwick College), John Grabowski (former Fredonia State), Ryan Schroen (current Canisius) and Pat Zelko (former Medaille) was makeshift; only the latter two are natural defenders, and Schroen made only his third appearance of the season. Non-soccer related player commitments and long-term injuries to Josh Faga (current Marist College) and Jake Rinow (current Cornell)—two players with true professional aspirations—have plagued a squad that entered the season with enormous potential. While the call-up of Kendell McFayden to USL’s Rochester Rhinos was a boon for the individual player, the Blitzers’ defense and overall athleticism suffered mightily as a result.
Can FC Buffalo pull off the late-season feat on the road against AFC Cleveland? If it’s any comfort, Cleveland also fell to Binghamton by a score of 2-0 June 16, but Cleveland drew Erie 1-1 Sunday. It will be an uphill climb for the Blitzers to make the postseason.
(Header photo credit Nate Benson from the first FC Buffalo vs. Binghamton match—full gallery here).