Where? Houseman Field – Grand Rapids, MI
When? Friday, July 22nd – 4:30 pm
Ticket Details: $10 for a single day pass, and $15 for a two-day pass
AFC Cleveland leads the Midwest Region with an 8-2 record that saw the team go undefeated at home and secure the number one seed in the Great Lakes East Conference. In addition to this, the Royals have the best goal differential in their conference (+16). Having lost in the Regional Finals last season against Indiana, the team is looking to redeem itself this year.
The Royals boast one of the most stacked midfields in the Midwest Region and have several players who have scored multiple goals. Of these, five-year veteran forward Vinny Bell and midfielder Brian Potocnik lead the pack with four goals and one assist each in league play. With this type of offensive output it’s no surprise that AFC Cleveland has scored the highest amount of goals in the region (25).
On the defensive front, goalkeeper Anthony Flowers and center back Coletun Long lead the conference’s best backline, having allowed only nine goals all season. The Royals kept five clean sheets, with Flowers starting in eight of those matches – and having four clean sheets to his name – while Long started every league match for the Royals.
“We’ve kept a lot of goals out of our own goal – that’s always a big thing in this league – because everybody [on the team] scores and everybody defends. That’s been big for our success and obviously having guys like Vinny and guys who can finish.” – Carter Poe, AFC Cleveland Head Coach
AFC Ann Arbor
AFC Ann Arbor arrives to the playoffs on the back of its first season in the NPSL. Having finished in second place in the Great Lakes West Conference behind Grand Rapids FC, Ann Arbor looks to steal the limelight from its in-state rival who is also in its first season.
Ann Arbor’s attack is led by forward Dario Suarez, who has had a hand in over half of his team’s 17 goals, having scored six and assisted another three. The 23-year old player is in his first season with the team but brings big game experience, having played for the U-20 Cuban National Team and the senior squad at the 2015 Gold Cup.
As far as its defensive line goes, the Mighty Oak has solid roots in center back Matthew Braem, who has played every minute of all 12 league matches. The team’s first choice goalkeeper is Peter Tappenden, who has featured in three of the team’s matches. Tappended has recorded one clean sheet and has a goal against average of 1.3 goals per game.
“The 2016 season has proven to be a solid inaugural season for us here at AFC Ann Arbor. Transitioning into the NPSL and building a competitive team has been a big task, but our organization has been up for the challenge. Going into the playoffs for our first time we are looking to build off of our regular season success and continue to provide a platform for our players to showcase their abilities on a national stage.” – Eric Rudland, AFC Ann Arbor Sporting Director & Head Coach