Syracuse FC’s inaugural match at David W. Murphy Field goes down as a 5-1 loss as AFC Cleveland gets their first win of the regular season with a run of second-half goals.
The early stages of the match were controlled by the Royals, who showed patience starting possession from the back and picking out teammates in the attacking third. AFC Cleveland was rewarded with an early goal by Nooma Man of the Match Admir Suljevic, and other chances that could have expanded the lead.
As the game progressed, Syracuse FC showed more composure and began to generate chances of their own. Bozidar Jelovac and Slavisa Ubiparipovic pestered the AFC Cleveland backline in particular, often challenging defenders individually or making dangerous runs towards goal. Their diligence paid off in the 33’ when Ubiparipovic earned and finished a penalty kick to even the score.
With the score even at the half, AFC Cleveland put immense pressure on Syracuse FC from the start of the second half to the final whistle. A flood of second-half goals would see the Royals through to their largest win of the year, and first of their title-defending NPSL campaign. The win puts the Royals atop the East Conference standings with four points along with Dayton Dynamo, who also have four points after a win against FC Buffalo.
Syracuse FC had the first two chances of the half coming off corner kicks, but could not find a teammate to produce a shot.
AFC Cleveland got on the board early with a goal from Suljevic in the sixth minute. Skye Harter played a cross from the right channel, finding Brian Potoknik within striking distance. Suljevic cleaned up the rebound from Potocnik’s shot, and scored his second goal of the season.
Suljevic almost had his second of the evening when he received an errant pass from a Syracuse FC defender. Suljevic took a touch past the last defender, but his shot was saved by Syracuse FC goalkeeper Pat Castle in the 12th from close range.
Chris Cvecko almost gained an assist in the 30th by playing a cross into the box from the right flank; Suljevic got a touch on the ball, but the cross was too far out of his reach to put any power on a shot.
Slavisa Ubiparipovic scored the first goal in Syracuse FC history when he converted a penalty kick in the 33rd. The opportunity to tie the game was the result of a foul by David Jordan, who made contact with Ubiparipovic after he switched directions of his dribble just inside the box.
Suljevic again almost scored in the 39th after beating a defender with a step-over dribble, but his driven shot from close range was denied by Castle.
At the start of the second half, Coletun Long sent a deep ball to a sprinting David Jordan, who did not initially win the ball, but dispossessed the Syracuse FC defender near the goal. Jordan’s pass back to the center of the goal found Suljevic, whose shot required a save from Castle.
The Royals kept finding opportunities from the right side, and were finally rewarded with a go-ahead goal in the 51st minute from Vinny Bell after a sublime cross from Cvecko. The cross was lifted just out of the reach of the defender trailing Bell, and the Royals striker was able to loft the ball over Castle from the left to hit the right-side netting.
Mike Derezic tallied the Royals third goal of the night in the 58th. The opportunity started when Suljevic demanded attention centrally and played a pass through to Cvecko, whose cross slid behind Syracuse FC’s defenders. Derezic would convert a tap-in on the left side of goal after a misdirecting touch by Potocnik.
Dan Koniarczyk caught Syracuse FC by surprise and scored his first goal of the season in the 64th. After a foul was committed on Koniarczyk, the young Royals midfielder took a quick attempt off the ensuing free kick, scoring as the Syracuse FC backline were organizing themselves.
Jelovac generated Syracuse FC’s best chance of the second half in the 71st when he beat three AFC Cleveland defenders along the endline before his attempted square pass was turned out of bounds. Alex Ivanov got a fist to the ensuing corner kick, ending the Syracuse FC chance.
Reymar Klochko would round out AFC Cleveland’s high-scoring night with another in the 86th. After a barreling run downfield by David Jordan, Klochko received the ball in a wide area. Klochko immediately sent the ball towards goal, and his kick proved too difficult for Castle to handle, hitting the far post and entering the net.
AFC Cleveland are back in action next Friday for a road rematch with conference rival Dayton Dynamo.