Decisive match: FC Buffalo ready for home finale Saturday
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • June 30, 2012 @ 8:00am
The reorganized NPSL Midwest-Great Lakes Conference hasn’t been kind to FC Buffalo, as the Blitzers are fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot with Greater Binghamton FC, lagging well behind the super trio of Detroit City FC, AFC Cleveland and the Erie Admirals.
Saturday’s home match against conference leader Detroit City FC—Le Rouge, as the club is known—is an opportunity for the Blitzers to battle back from a 3-0 road defeat June 16. The contest begins at 7 p.m. at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium, and tickets are $5 at the door.
Perhaps even more important, however, is FC Buffalo’s road match on Sunday against Binghamton, as a head-to-head win for the Blitzers would create much-needed separation in the fight for the final playoff spot. That match begins at 3 p.m. at the Greater Binghamton Sports Complex, 18 hours—including a four-hour drive—after FC Buffalo’s match vs. Detroit.
Behind a stellar effort in net from Kareem Gray (Canisius College), FC Buffalo drew the Erie Admirals 1-1 after leading most of the match through captain Gary Boughton’s strike. Last Friday’s match marked Gray’s debut for the Blitzers after Brian Wagstaff and Eric DeHond had manned the goal in the club’s previous eight matches. If anything, Gray’s performance deserves a follow-up against Detroit City FC, but that decision remains up to head coach Dan Krzyzanowicz, who returns to the bench after serving a three-game suspension.
While the Blitzers’ attendance hasn’t been terrible by any stretch—the club draws roughly between 350 and 600 people per match—Detroit City FC has built a city-wide following from its organized fan groups, the Northern Guard (@NorthernGuard1 on Twitter) and Le Rouge Supporters, and a winning team buoyed by Adam Bedell, Tom Oatley, Keith Lough and Stefan St. Louis hasn’t hurt. Detroit City rallied nearly 1,800 fans for the Rust Belt Derby match against Cleveland, a remarkable feat for an amateur football club in its first NPSL season.
FC Buffalo owns a one-point lead over Greater Binghamton FC with a game in hand. The remaining Blitzer schedule is as follows:
6/30—home vs. Detroit City FC
7/1—away vs. Greater Binghamton FC
7/6—away vs. AFC Cleveland
Greater Binghamton faces the Erie Admirals in addition to FC Buffalo to finish off its 2012 campaign. Erie pounded GBFC 4-1 last Sunday.
— Center midfielder Josh Faga is targeting his return for the postseason. The Marist College star fractured his fibula on June 3 and just began impact running Friday. He’s been missed dearly in the Buffalo lineup, as usual forwards like Andy Tiedt and Cory Cwiklinski have been thrust into an unfamiliar role orchestrating the attack rather than focusing on finishing chances.
— Versatile forward/defender Kendell McFayden will miss Saturday’s match against Detroit because he’ll suit up for the USL’s Rochester Rhinos at home against the Harrisburg City Islanders, but the details of his contract could allow him to face Binghamton Sunday. There’s precious little time between Saturday and early Sunday afternoon for McFayden’s paperwork to be adjusted, so I’d be absolutely shocked if he was in the Blitzer lineup.
The Blitzers’ #23 made his pro debut for Rochester last weekend against the Richmond Kickers, entering after halftime to boost a Rhinos club desperate for offensive firepower. Although he managed three shots and no points, McFayden’s speed in the attack helped wear down Richmond in Rochester’s eventual 3-2 win.
(Header photo courtesy of Nate Benson from the first FC Buffalo vs. Detroit City FC match—full gallery here).