Tuesday, May 3, 2016

FTLOF Marquee Match Days: AFC Ann Arbor

In the lead up to the season, every soccer fan looks at the schedule of their favorite club and circles the matches that they are looking forward to the most.

Here at For the Love of Fútbol, we are no different.

AFC Ann Arbor is one of the new entities that will be gracing the NPSL Midwest-Great Lakes West division for the 2016 NPSL season. The team out of Washtenaw County looks to make the sort of waves at the semi-professional level that the Mighty Oak did when it competed its inaugural season in the, now named, Premier League of America. 

The AFCAA schedule isn't as established or prominent as fixtures stemming from the Detroit City FC side, but that is understandable seeing as the club is operating in only its second year of play.

The fixture list is basically a laundry list of NPSL league matches, but that doesn't mean that there are not notable matches on the fray from here until the middle of July, so let's take a look.

vs. Dayton Dynamo; May 7

Despite coming off of a friendly loss to Oakland County FC of the PLA, AFC Ann Arbor looks to turn its fortunes around when it fields the clubs full roster for the first time. Dayton Dynamo will make the trip to Pioneer High School and Hollway Field for AFCAA's inaugural NPSL league match.

There's not much to judge this match off, as the home team has never played at the NPSL level, and the Dayton Dynamo has struggled in its couple years of existence within the league.

Although, AFC Ann Arbor did sell close to 2,300 tickets to fill its stadium last season at its league opener, so it will be interesting to see if the club can pull that rank again.

Was selected as NPSL's game of the week.

vs. Detroit City FC; May 20 & July 3

Here in FTLOF-land, every Detroit City FC and AFC Ann Arbor match up will always make the Marquee Match Day list. But it's much more than being because we cover both clubs primarily, but because these match-ups could be very, very entertaining.

It's no doubt that Detroit City FC has the most passionate fans this side of the Mason-Dixon, but its the also the fact that AFCAA unfortunately has to make the travel to Keyworth Stadium for the club's home opener in its newly renovated arena.

The Northern Guard supporters have made it clear that they are going to not only show up, but also show out for home games, and in the past it was the home opener that became the most intense. The environment, no doubt, makes it difficult for the away side to be successful; the Mighty Oak has a tough job ahead of them in May.

Less than a month later, DCFC will travel to Ann Arbor in the reverse fixture. Not even Hollway Field is safe from the Northern Guard, who have publicly said that they plan to travel to Washtenaw in mass numbers for this meeting.

Detroit City FC is easily the favorite to win the league this season, but AFCAA coach Eric Rudland is adamant that the advantage will be with the Mighty Oak, at least at home.

vs. Lansing United; June 10 & June 17

The Battle of Eric Rudland (copyright: For the Love of Fútbol) is an interesting two fixtures for the Mighty Oak, not only because Lansing United has the highest chance of competing with DCFC for the league title, but also because Rudland has won the NPSL in the past with LanU.

It will be a homecoming, of sorts, for Rudland, when AFCAA makes the trip to Lansing for the first time on June 10. It will be the first time that the prolific manager makes his return to the club in which he collected a 17-13-7 record with the club.

Rudland will look to steal a victory, in both, the home-and-away fixtures that are scheduled a week apart from each other.

vs. San Marino; July 19

AFCAA began it's existence with its inaugural match against San Marino, last May. This season, it'll continue the tradition, this time finishing out the season with the meeting.

*Remember, these fixtures are purely from the perspective of FTLOF writers, and while other fixtures may tickle your fancy over these ones, they are what we see as the most exciting in the season!

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