Saturday, April 30, 2016

AFC Ann Arbor loses home-opener to Oakland County FC

 Click for full match gallery
Click for full match gallery

AFC Ann Arbor took a concerning setback on Friday, losing its 2016 regular season home opener by a score of 2-1 at Hollway Field against fifth-tier Premier League of America expansion side, Oakland County FC. 

With a shortened roster and a goalkeeper on trial, the Mighty Oak were incapable of gaining enough momentum to put down its minor league opponent in an efficient manner. 

"I'm not worried at all," AFC Ann Arbor coach Eric Rudland said. "Right now the process is just trying to sort out personnel and get better each day and we're actually really excited about this next week. 

"With the players that we have coming into the team, we feel like this is a big week for us from a preparation standpoint heading into the first NPSL meeting next weekend."

Like its friendly against Northwood University last week, AFC Ann Arbor found it difficult to kick start its offense in the first half against Oakland County FC. Turnovers, lack of possession and no clear chances on goal plagued the team out of Ann Arbor. 

In the 30th minutes, OCFC stunned the home crowd, with a headed deflection goal from forward Alex Marilley to put his team ahead. 

Down a goal, AFCAA has an opportunity to level the match right before half with a primly placed free kick, 22-yards from goal. OCFC goalkeeper Vito Lonigro was able to clear the shot, and a volley off the rebound was sent wide of goal. 

Reminiscent of it first match of the season, the Mighty Oak's attack kicked on in the second half. 

And like its match last week, it was the man in form, Yuri Farkas, who pulled his team level in the 53rd minute. 

"Yuri is a very technical player, but also very powerful with great body strength and unbelievable feet while putting himself in great spots to make plays," Rudland said. "He's versatile, so I think he's a player that we want to continue to build into the team."

The leveling goal motivated the Mighty Oak, who began piling on pressure in mass amounts. A few chances off the bar and saves out of substitute goalkeeper Ludin Gonzales saw AFCAA continuing to push for the victory. 

But an unfortunate turnover in the defensive third gave OCFC's Sam Brikho a magnificent curling shot from outside of the box to put the ball past Adrian Motta for the game winner in the 84th minute. 

Three minutes later, Knox Cameron took a free kick from right outside of the 18-yard box that rang off the bar and was cleared of danger by OCFC defenders. 

The game finished in favor of the PLOA side, sending AFCAA stunned heading into the NPSL season. 

"You want to win every game, so I think being at home and it being our first match in the NPSL, we want to show well," Rudland said about next weeks match against the Dayton Dynamo. "We want to get things started on a good note, so that's our expectation for every game from here out."

Once again Rudland wasn't worried about his team's performance, and actually liked what he saw out of his team in the second half.

"We're happy with the way we played today from a possession standpoint and creation of changed, obviously we have to put some of those away. Very fixable things."

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