Our BDSL "experts" ,Treasurer Brian Rademaker and President Michael Schieber, give their takes on how they think the 2017 Wood Cup Could play out.
Schieber's 2017 Wood Cup Breakdown
Welcome back all to our first 2017 prediction column. For those of you new to these, I’ll be a attempting to use my league knowledge, team sources and general expertise to predict how this year’s Wood Cup will play out. Maybe it’s not the best idea for the league president to makes jokes about teams and that but got to give the people what they want. Hopefully everyone knows it’s all in good fun. Lets divide and conquer the four Wood cup sections and see who I think will be crowned champion.
Domestic Beer Region
Teams: West United (O-35), Cheektowaga (D2), Depew Village (D2) Moby Ducks FC (D3) Great White Buffalo (D3) North Buffalo FC (D3) Celtic Brigade (D2) Aurora Arsenal II (D3)
Named this because: Sort of a bland looking group to me. I mean someone will get the job done but I’m not really enjoying myself here. This is a means to end. If that’s all you got I’ll take it, I guess.
Region Strength: 4th (last)
Best Possible Match Up: With so few here really moving the meter, I’m opting for one that is a classic township battle on paper. Depew Village meeting Cheektowaga would be a fun contest between 2 experienced BDSL sides.
Final 4 Dark Horse: I think Celtic Brigade will be the youngest of all the BDSL teams in the Celtic Family. Would be impressive if they could pull off something like making the final 4 of the Wood Cup in their first year. Or could it be surprise entrant West United from the O-35 crowd that shows the Sunday league they have much still left in the tank.
Favorite: I suppose its Depew Village? I mean they are the only team with a winning BDSL record all time. But they are coming off a relegated 1-9-1 season.
Fun Fact: Moby Ducks FC is the worst name in BDSL history.
Region Winner: I’m going with a consistently improving but relatively quiet side in Aurora Arsenal II. Basically, “What do you have? Ok uhhh I guess I’ll just take a Blue.”
Craft Brew Region
Teams: Kingsmen SC (D2), Dutch FC (D2), Celtic Classic (D3), Big Green (D3), FC Aftershock (D3) Los Chupacabras (D2), West Seneca Strikers (D2), Erie County FC (D3)
Named this because: Good selection and options. Various tastes can inspire a few different regional winners. Overall a very good group. Getting your money’s worth.
Region Strength: 2nd
Best Possible Match Up: Fighting the urge to pick FC Aftershock v Dutch FC for the fans, I’m going with Dutch and new side Los Chupacabras. I think both sides will do well in D2 this year.
Final 4 Dark Horse: How about upstarts Erie County FC whose odd twitter antics have relied up some teams. If their game on the field can back up the talking then seeing them go deep would be entertaining at the very least.
Favorite: With all the D2 sides being new to the league and no big D3 team lurking Dutch FC led by Kevin Au & co. is the odds on favorite, probably for the entire tournament.
Fun Fact: Ignoring Celtic Classic player experience the average BDSL seasons played per team here is 1.6. Also it features not one but two recently restarted teams in Dutch FC and West Seneca Strikers.
Region Winner: When you look at a big craft beer board and everything sounds pretty good you typically take one based on the type of beer you like right? This is why despite some other intriguing picks, I’m sticking with a trusted winner in the dark chocolate stout that is Dutch FC.
Hard Liquor Region
Teams: Meerkats FC (D2), Stone Jug (D3), Youngstown Marksmen (D2), Blizzard FC (D2), Tesla (D3), Honey Badgers (D2), Queen City Pride (D2), WNY United Reds (D2), Devils (D3)
Named this because: For most of us once we start down this path things get a bit hazy. Sometimes it’s a great choice and you have the night of your life. Other times you wake up face first in your own piss and vomit (I’m guessing of course) its pick your poison with this group cause they are all dangerous.
Region Strength: 1st (hardest)
Best Possible Match Up: Too many to choose from honestly. Youngstown v Blizzard, WNY v Honey Badgers, Stone Jug v Youngstown, Devils v Meerkats. Lots of good good choices.
Final 4 Dark Horse: Queen City Pride is my pick as not too much is known about this team right now. Keeping their cards close to their chest good be a good thing this year with this many new teams. After saying this they are assured to lost the play in game to Honey Badgers. Sorry City.
Favorite: Extremely debatable here, but I’ll say Meerkats FC. I just hope after three or four more I’ll feel the same way.
Fun Fact: This region features two defection teams if you will, with Honey Badgers off WNY United Reds and Youngstown Marksmen leaving Stone Jug. Both could play each other in Round 2 win opening wins.
Region Winner: Blizzard FC is my choice in this tightly contested region. I could be sold on 4 teams here but I have to go with one side so Blizzard it is. This reminds me of every time I’m deciding on going home or ordering a round of Rumplemintze to keep the night going. I’m not sold on either choice and all have their pros and cons
Teams: Ukraine (D2), FK Bosna (D2), Rust Belt United (D3), Great Lakes FC (D3), Delco Academy (D2), Revolution SC (D3), FC Yemen II (D2), Celtic 1888 (D2)
Named this because: Two fold. First the list of ingredient/teams here is intriguing. Mix a Ukraine and FK Bosna? Great! Delco And Celtic 1888 with maybe a hint of FC Yemen II? Why not! But also these tend to depend a lot on who is making these drinks/games. So hit and miss here. Am I getting the poorly attended 1888 side or a full strength team? These things matter in Cup games and there is now way to tell with certainty that you’re getting that with almost any of these clubs. Same as a cocktail.
Region Strength: 3rd
Best Possible Match Up: The ooohhh and ahhhs of the draw crowd at the last meeting when FKB and Ukraine lined up was great but I’m thinking that FKB v FC Yemen II is an even better final 4 game lurking.
Final 4 Dark Horse: Celtic 1888 was really bad last year but I heard lots of reports of them improving this year. I have my doubts but we’ll see. Revolution SC is also a good pick if they have solved their scoring woes from last season.
Favorite: If Delco had stolen Steele, then this would be different but I think FC Yemen II is the favorite. They are an experienced side that I bet considered playing in Tehel Cup too.
Fun Fact: This region features both of the teams that were relegated out of D2 last year but were lucky enough to stay in it. It also obviously has the largest foreign-based teams out of any other region. Lastly both Revolution SC and Great Lakes FC are rebrands of longtime BDSL clubs CS Italia and Haz Benz.
Region Winner: Bar Keep I’ll take FC Yemen II to keep their tempers in check and survive a tricky group where if your not careful you could fall to one of these more experienced D3 teams. Like a Stormy Sails from Lackawanna’s very own Winfield’s Pub (great place), FC Yemen II is the best bang for my buck.
Dutch FC over Aurora Arsenal II
Blizzard FC over FC Yemen II
Dutch FC over Blizzard FC
Rademaker's 2017 Wood Cup Breakdown
I’ve seen Schieber’s take on the Wood Cup and his expected results, and he’s really out done himself this time. Just no thought put into it; a lot of adult liquid talk that fluffed up the word count while adding some arbitrary dark horses with little to no explanation behind it. Enough is enough. If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you weren’t satisfied with his “original” prediction. Or you’re bored at work. Well, I’m not here to fix any of that. I can be laborious at times to read, so if you tough it out, I’m impressed. Let’s get to it:
I will agree that this is the most inviting quadrant of the four. The most intriguing first round matchup for me here is West United FC vs. Cheektowaga. Is this the first time an Over 35 side has applied for the Wood Cup? I’ll have to ask the League history guy on this one (sends e-mail to self, self gets excited for new e-mail, then realizes it was sent from self, deletes e-mail). Anyway, it’s pretty cool to see that. What’s interesting is that West United may have the strongest opponent within their region in round 1, and considering how early into the season this match is being played, if they manage to get past this round, I can certainly see the elder statesmen reach the Final Four. Problem is, Cheektowaga is now a replacement word for Consistent. Look at their roster. No turnover? None?! Coming off of a BDSL season where they weren’t all that bad, and half the league from last year moved up to Division I, Cheektowaga should be a threat to win both the Wood Cup and Division II. So I’ve got them in a tight one over West United FC.
I see Moby Ducks advancing over Depew Village, Great White Buffalo defeating North Buffalo FC, and Aurora Arsenal II knocking off Celtic Brigade to round out the first round. I picked Ducks because of their crest and also because Depew Village seemed to lose a majority of their talent in the offseason. Great White Buffalo’s roster sees some more turnover, but knowing the Manager there, I think he’s probably curtailing the roster into something a little bit more consistent (if it’s less talented) in 2017. Aurora Arsenal II I think is just a better team than Celtic Brigade. That’s because Brigade has 1 player on its roster right now.
In the second round, Cheektowaga defeats Moby Ducks, and Aurora Arsenal II gets it together to win a close one over Great White Buffalo. In the regional final, I’ve got Cheektowaga defeating Aurora Arsenal II 2-1.
This is the second toughest quadrant. The most intriguing first round matchup is FC Aftershock at Los Chupacabras. I think Chupacabras will be one of, if not the most talented teams in Division II this summer. What worries me is their commitment for a full season. They’re very young, and seemed unreliable to the Meerkats last year, save for a few. The issue for me here is that they’re on the road, and for whatever reason, attendance to Cup games is always so hit or miss. It’s why I give Aftershock the edge here; similar to how shocked I was to hear that Youngstown lost their play-in cup game to the same foe last spring.
With Chupacabras out of the picture, things open up a bit more for Dutch FC, who I’d peg as the 2nd best team in the quadrant, slightly ahead of their first round opponent in Kingsmen SC. Kingsmen have been taking some licks at Sahlen’s this winter, but let’s keep in mind the level of play they’re up against. Their roster appears to be a mix of Polonia and the old Wolf Mill players, who weren’t as bad as their final years made them out to be. I think Dutch sneaks out of the first round though, the game being a lot closer than anticipated. Meanwhile Celtic Classic pummels Big Green SC, and West Seneca Strikers get by Erie County FC. The second round will see Dutch defeat Celtic Classic in a physical affair, and FC Aftershock will get by West Seneca Strikers with a late winner. The regional final will be disappointing, in that Dutch will win comfortably (4-1) and represent the Quadrant in the Final Four.
This would be the most stacked Quadrant in the Tournament. The best opening round game across any quadrant resides here between Youngstown Marksmen and Blizzard FC. Blizzard knocked off a Championship mid-table Niagara FC team in last year’s Tehel Cup, so they’ve proven to get down and dirty in tournament play if need be. But they’re set to travel North, to a side that’s much improved defensively. I think Youngstown gets this one in OT 1-0.
I feel as if the Meerkats can get by Stone Jug in the opening round, but it wouldn’t fully shock me if the Jug walked away with a W. Honey Badgers should cruise over Queen City Pride, who I feel will be a team hovering towards the very bottom of Division 2. That’ll toss the Badgers into a Round of 32 match against Tesla FC. Tesla appears to be the elder statesmen who branched off of Great Lakes FC, formerly Haz Benz. Tesla will play a smart first half, likely on an already hard-as-a-rock Ives pitch, holding the Badgers scoreless and frustrated, until things turn for the better for the youngsters, propelling the Badgers into the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, a minor upset will take place in the final first round match, with Devils getting by WNY United Reds. The difference there will be that Devils will find the back of the net, and Marcus Campbell will keep all problematic shots at bay from his end.
The second round will see Youngstown get a road victory over Meerkats with little to no problem, and Honey Badgers, who really wanted to see WNY United Reds to give us a great game between former team and spawn off team, will get pitted against Devils. Devils form lately makes me think they’ve got something special in store this season, from an overall perspective. They also gave Yemen Elite a better game last year than anticipated (it was still lopsided, but I suppose not as lopsided as I had expected). I think they’ll get by Honey Badgers in PKs. The regional final will see Youngstown Marksmen put it all together and knock out the Devils 2-0, mind you the game will be a lot closer than the score would indicate.
For me, a lot of the matchups here are just a waste of time. Let’s get right to the regional final between FK Bosna and FC Yemen II. I suppose I’ll have to show you how they get there, in what I’d consider the second weakest quadrant:
In the best opening round matchup, by default I suppose, Revolution SC will get by Delco Academy in a high scoring affair 4-3. Great Lakes FC will defeat Rust Belt, FK Bonsa will pour on the goals over Ukraine 4-0, and FC Yemen II will bag five goals but concede two to Celtic 1888, who appear to be RVS United 2.
In the semi-finals, FK Bosna will continue their blistering scoring in tournament play with another four goals, this time at the expense of Great Lakes FC, while FC Yemen II will do enough on the road to get past an organized Revolution squad led by Corey Deville. The regional final will draw a ton of fans, a ton of yellow cards, and a ton of half way decent soccer that’ll likely feel like quality soccer if you’re on the pitch, but visually not appealing to those taking the game in from the sidelines. FC Yemen II advances 4-2.
Cheektowaga, not used to the late season grind now that they’ve qualified for Division II playoffs, will show with heavy legs and lay an egg against Dutch in their semi-final matchup. 3-nil Dutch.
FC Yemen II’s pace will prove to be too much to handle for Youngstown, as the Marksmen’s offensive chances are limited and many of their wings are forced to hang back in a defensive role. They’ll put in a good 90, but fatigue will set in with 20 to go, giving FCY II a 2-0 win.
This one for me comes down to who really wants it more. FC Yemen II is probably not quite as talented as Dutch, in my opinion, but they also were disappointed not to be selected into Division 1 this summer, making me feel like that their team aspirations and expectations are high. They use that motivation all summer and get their name forever etched into the Wood Cup trophy, walking away with a 2-1 victory.