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Sinking Cleveland: Blitzers look to avenge defeat

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

FC Buffalo cannot afford to settle for a draw or loss in Sunday’s match against AFC Cleveland. Even though it’s early in the NPSL season, conceding further ground in the standings to capable sides is a death wish. With the Blitzers missing five starters from their home opener a week prior, Dan Krzyzanowicz’s team dropped a 4-2 decision at Byers Field.

“The team we fielded in Cleveland wasn’t a bad side,” said FC Buffalo player/coach Matt Stedman. “We had fives new faces on the field, though, and we just weren’t ready for the speed of play and intensity. We lacked communication and familiarity with each other.”

“We’ll catch them by surprise Sunday,” the veteran Blitzer promised. “We’ll have some faces they didn’t see and some faces that they did.”

The match: AFC Cleveland (1-0-2; 5 points) vs. FC Buffalo (0-1-1; 1 point)
The time: 3 p.m. kickoff, but show up early to sing, chant, eat and yell.
The venue: Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium, 2885 Main Street, Buffalo.
The cost: $5 at the door, or free with donated soccer apparel to Buffalo Soccer Club. Season tickets available at door too.

The promising aspects of the first match against Detroit City—a scoreless draw—should be built upon Sunday. Medaille Mavericks trio Kendell McFayden, Alexander Rouse and Josh Hall all earned degrees last weekend, preventing them from joining the club in Cleveland; all three started in the opener. Depth reinforcements are on their way, too, as Cornell outside back Jake Rinow—a starter and top defender last season—and brothers Chris (Hartwick College) and Ryan Walter (Binghamton) have returned from college. There’s no word if Krzyzanowicz will thrust them immediately into the lineup.

Goalkeeper Eric DeHond, who was calm and collected in his clean-sheet debut, should return between the pipes for FC Buffalo, and the center defensive pairing of Josiah Snelgrove and Kendell McFayden that was magnificent against Detroit City should be on display again.

AFC Cleveland is talented if a little brash, as back Dennis Holowaty (Marquette University) spoke of the relative ease that AFC Cleveland dispatched of the Blitzers following the game. Still, fellow fullback Ruairidh Winters earned NPSL Player of the Week honors for his effort against FC Buffalo, Case Western Reserve attacker Vinny Bell found the score-sheet and the visitors brought in Akron University attacker Thomas Schmitt, a part-time starter for head coach Caleb Porter. Schmitt notched five goals, including two game-winners, alongside the brilliant Darren Mattocks, who now plies his trade for the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS. 

Remember to bring along gently used soccer equipment, whether it’s an old ball, shoes that no longer fit—turfs, cleats, indoors, anything—to help Buffalo Soccer Club. It’s a classy organization that isn’t terrified of the East Side of Buffalo.

“[Buffalo Soccer Club] is a great little club,” FC Buffalo owner Nick Mendola said. “They’re someone we want to have a long-term relationship with. If the kids can afford transportation, they probably can’t afford a ball to kick around or shoes without a giant hole in them.”

Keep an eye out for a Buffalo.com feature next week on player/coach Matt Stedman.

(Header photo courtesy of Nate Benson—full gallery from home opener here).

TAGGED: afc cleveland, fc buffalo, npsl, npsl soccer, soccer, soccer club

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