In our 3rd preview, BDSL's Michael Schieber lays out his thoughts on the 1st Division and how he thinks it could play out. Soon to be added will be Treasurer Brian Rademakers views of the division as well.
First Division Overview:
OK, so where did we leave off? D1 ah yes. Well D1 is by far the divison I feel the least confident in predicting. I feel pretty good about the bottom 2 teams in either conference and maybe the best team in all of D1 but after that it’s totally a crap shoot. Will certainly make the playoffs interesting. Overall the division is in pretty good shape. I think many of these clubs are on par with the bottom teams of Championship as well. Like where things are headed here.
My Take: Alden is playing on borrowed D1 time. This side would have been a relegation lock last year if the two teams who were relegated in D1 last year weren’t around. They are aging, lack speed, lack depth, and well frankly aren’t well suited for D1 in my opinion. They would be a middling D2 team I think. They are probably closer to starting in O-35 too. My prospects for them are just flat out very low. Maybe this will spark them some. I don’t know.
Best Case – They get plugging into some sort of rejuvenation machine and they all suddenly re enter their primes. this results in a 7th place finish in Mingle.
Worst Case - I mean this is the worst case I think. Missing several players to cards to open the season, and things just snowball hard on them into dead last. They fold as a team in 2018.
Actual –I think they get D2 a ride next year but without some young blood soon they are on thin ice I think. And hey I’m reusing this from last year but did anyone in the league know they call themselves the Eclipse?? Still no? That’s OK.
My Take: An odd season for them last year in their relegation campaign. It’s easy to see why it happened too. 5 goals all season? Yikes. Their leading scorer was listed as a defender. I think I can just stop right there. I think they’ll fit in better in D1 honestly. I know their goal is to go for promotion back up but I’m lukewarm on that for this side as currently constructed. If they did enough to solve the scoring woes they can certainly prove me wrong.
Best Case – If they found a scorer then they could battle for a playoff spot. But I couldn’t see them getting out of round 1.
Worst Case - The Celtic shuffle continue to strain the squads and like last year everyone aside from United is in for more struggles. They some how score less then 5? Relegated out of D1.
Actual – Not a playoff side as they are in the stronger of the two conferences. but i don’t think they’ll ever be in real relegation trouble either. Positioned 5th.
My Take: In years past Gunners have had good players and have been able to get by with lower attendance due to that talent alone. Well as the play of D1 improves overall I think its less and less likely that this becomes possible for the Gunners. I like the team just not enough to have much faith in them continuing to be a playoff threat. I think they’ll find themselves trying to beat the drop more often this coming year.
Best Case – Similar to Celtic maybe if the promoted sides aren’t ready they could finish as high as say 6th but that’s about it.
Worst Case - They somehow lose to Alden in a loser is auto relegated game. Fold at end of the year.
Actual – I think they’ll finish 8th and lose the relegation game to their opponent in that loser goes home game.
Crimson Fire FC
My Take: This is really getting depressing as so far all the teams we’ve talked about in D1 so far i’m not exactly keen on. And while I wish we could lighten the mood some we’ve arrived on Crimson. Now I have missed hard on them before, so maybe that trend continues here. Undeniable losing Tarbell hurts. They also missed out on several transfer targets they had eyes on over the winter. I think the team is decent but for whatever reason I have them sliding some this year. Management is strong and I always hate picking against that so here’s to them making me look bad once again.
Best Case – Like years past while I think they are closer to the bottom they finish nearly at the top. Take 3rd and pull an upset in round 1 before falling in semi finals.
Worst Case - I’m actually right on them and they finish 1 spot lower where I have them because then things can be very dicey, but…...
Actual – I have them 7th, so safe enough to build for a better year in D1 in 2018
My Take: I had higher hopes for this side when they first announced their intentions to join but since then I’ve cooled off a bit. I think they’ll like to think of themselves as the next Willies or OP Alliance, a former group of HS players who know and play with each other well and earn promotion year 1. But I think they are lacking a bit offensively to make that happen. Missing the chance to get Wes Rider into the fold is a blow. Still though I like the team overall and believe they will make the playoffs.
Best Case – Crusaders crush SPAL in their match up knocking them out of playoff contention. They win their playoff game and then shock a similarly built Grand Island team in route to promotion. Fall in the championship though to NMB FC
Worst Case - Missing the playoffs entirely is enough to cause the team to go one and done as the players seek better fortunes on other teams
Actual – 3rd for me in Mingle so playoffs but I don’t think promotion is in the cards.
My Take: Team is a bit confusing. In their two years the results have been sorta all over the place which makes them hard to lock down. As you move up the table though inconsistencies though are amplified like a Slardar Ulti (if you got that joke you are my new best friend) Basically they seems to be unable to put together anything of note so why should I trust them? That was rhetorical because I don’t trust them.
Best Case – They finally string together a surprisingly good coherent season. But this means they only finish 5th.
Worst Case - They could certainly finish dead last in Pepper too.
Actual – I have them dead last.
Grand Island FC
My Take: I think it would be very hard to argue them as anything but the D1 front runners. This side is very good all over the pitch and runs impressively deep for a D1 team. From top to bottom solid all around. They can score, defend, play several different styles, just really good. N. Szabo and G. Robinson are probably the two center pieces but by year end I think many more players on this side with turn some heads. I think they could be a Championship playoff team.
Best Case – Undefeated straight through regular season and playoffs where they lift the D1 trophy and move up to Championship.
Worst Case - Maybe they drop a game or two and finish like 3rd somehow? Worst case would be failing to earn promotion no matter where then end up in the regular season.
Actual – Not undefeated but still take home the regular season and D1 playoffs crowns.
Great Lakes Africa
My Take: I literally know nothing about this team, so anything else I say aside from that is a bold faced lie. I like their team name. Their manager hasn’t missed a league meeting yet. honestly that’s it. So they could be amazing or they could be awful or they could be meh. Not a clue. Playing Grand Island week one so we’ll know shortly maybe.
Best Case – They are a team of national players from some country I’ve never heard of who got their leagues badly confused . They smoke the entire division and waltz to Tehel Cup for a Treble.
Worst Case - They are one of those teams I always see at Lasalle park who I at first wondered why didnt pay in BDSL but then watched them a bit and quickly realized why they don’t play BDSL. Dead last by a mile.
Actual – Hey aside from Grand Island I’m not totally in love with any other team in Mingle, so whatever, I’ll place them second because I like to look bad at years end.
My Take: A managerial change here that looked needed after how poorly things went for this team last year. Goal scoring was pitiful last year and they were even called out on it by the Hamburg Varsity Soccer team, deservedly so it would seem. So some fresh eyes and faces here are a welcome change I think. keep Hayes was a great start and adding Will Lange was smart too so I like the direction but this might take some time to rebuild. Patience will be required.
Best Case – 6th would be as high up as I can see them really. But I think staying together and building for 2018 should be the true focus.
Worst Case - The bottom just completely falls outand they fall to last place. Players are restless for change and the Monarchs rebuild completely again in 2018.
Actual – I have them 8th and against Gunners in the relegation game. But I think they are better than Gunners and beat them easily in said game.
My Take: If they hadn’t merged back with the almost split off team in Good Guys things woulda been bleak here. But that’s in the past and the prospects for NMB FC now look really good with the full team back ready to go. This team is experienced and battle tested at this level. I think they want promotion especially so they aren’t bested by rival FC Quake who now reside up a division. They have a knack of not playing to their true potential so that will need to go away in order for them to earn a top billing.
Best Case – Reunited and it feels so good. This side tops Pepper and makes it up to championship while FC Quake are relegated out.
Worst Case - Another year another slow start another missed playoff season. They split for good in 2018.
Actual – In a mild surprise here, though Rademaker beat me to it on Twitter, I am going to back them. First place in Pepper but falling in the semis.
Pendleton United FC
My Take: Overall a lot to like here. The additions were all solid and made lots of sense especially grabbing Kyle Jones. They play for each other and care which doesn’t sound like anything but gets you point in a league like this. My lone fear is they lack size and strength. Some bigger teams here in D1 and they could be bullied a bit. Still I think this is a playoff team when it’s all said and done.
Best Case – A season similar to last year where they never really are in first but look like the team to beat. That’s hard to do, but it’s their MO and they earn another promotion while losing in the final.
Worst Case - They won’t finish lower then 7th so I guess that would be worst.
Actual – I picked them fourth which means they play NMB FC in round one and I sorta hate that match up for them. a Round 1 exit but a favorite in D1 for 2018.
My Take: Seems like Aaron Andrews has been give the reigns here which I think overall is a good move. They’ll bounced between Championship and D1 now for last few years and maybe some new blood will freshen things up. There are a few new faces on the Polonia side so it will be interesting to see what they can offer. I think if they stick to their defense first and position style game they can do well.
Best Case – I think 2nd in Mingle would be a good spot for them if they do well. They make the finals and go back up to Championship soccer.
Worst Case - No question it would a repeat of last year. They finish 8th and hold there own fate in the relegation game and lose to a hungrier DSC side. Shockingly find themselves in D2 all of a sudden. I’d be afraid to see what that would mean for them.
Actual – I really am unsure with them. Like some and dislike some. For this reason I have them 5th and barely missing out playoff wise. Aside from Great Lakes they are the team I feel least confident about.
My Take: When it was first revealed that RVS was facing a sort of spin off team coming I was worried about the future of this club. But the additions to the team along with them keeping ahold of several others has me actually feeling better about them then before even. Last year they did really well to make the playoffs and I think this season they can target a return. Once there though, I’m not sure just how much damage they can do in post season play.
Best Case – They finish in 1st somehow. I could see it if the other teams slip up trying to get their bearings. make it to the semis before returning back to Earth just falling short of promotion.
Worst Case - I could see them taking longer to gel. Maybe a slow start gets some guys less interested in the year and they fall further down the table to 7th.
Actual – I think they take 3rd play in the conference with steady smart play, but their lack of impact players haunts them in playoffs as they go 1 and done.
My Take: Rampart FC is a curious team in D1. They have improved well over the past few years and continue with the add of Fusillo this year. I think they could use another forward option but a good defense and quality keeping can take a team a long way. I think that this team will battle for a playoff spot at a minimum but I don’t think they are a true threat for promotion. They are actually very similar to RVS to me.
Best Case – If things go perfectly they are always safely in a playoff spot finishing as high as 3rd. Pull a Rd 1 upset but fall in the semis.
Worst Case - I can’t see them falling too far down the table. I would be very shocked to see them any lower then 7th.
Actual – I penciled them in as the 4th place team and a playoff berth but they go one and done there.
SPAL Buffalo FC
My Take: SPAL being the highest seeded playoff team to return to D1 from last year, enters in this year in a slightly unfamiliar position as a preseason favorite. But really they have every reason to be that because they’ve built a really solid team. Bratos in net is a gigantic steal, kept hold of Rider, and make gets adds with Raylea and Poppolo. If i’m nit picking they may lack some back end speed and slightly shallow on midfield options but overall a really great roster on paper.
Best Case – Finally making the leap, they paste fellow D1 sides and finish first overall. Take all of spoils withe D1 playoff crown as well
Worst Case - They couldn’t possibly finish lower than 4th unless they suffer an injury run that knocks out half the team.
Actual – I have them finishing second in Pepper. This is not good though as it means they’ll meet Grand Island in the semis where I have them falling. This is a cruel fate.
My Take: Tonawanda wanted the move into D1 and were happy to receive it despite their playoff exit last year. I think they fit in well in D1 actually. They play a bruising style of soccer (think old school Wolfpack) that frustrates oppenents. Up top they have lots of scoring options at their disposal so it will depend on how quickly they can adjust to the tougher schedule of D1. It didn’t go too well last time for them here but they are a completely different team this go around.
Best Case – They impose their will on some of the smaller sides and go toe to toe foul wise with the other bigger teams. They push their way into 3rd place and a playoff berth.
Worst Case - Defensively a little light and they aren’t exactly the youngest team around either. Mixed bag of results ending with a 8th place finish and a lose in the relegation game.
Actual –Have them in 6th. I think it will be a mixed bag of results for them but they finish close to around .500
Tri Town United FC
My Take: A young team in the mold of the former and current HS route this side decided to forgo BWNYJSL and test the BDSL waters. Commendable for sure but I think their will be some growing pains. They’ll need to lean on the experience and leadership of Chris Griffths and Nick Perillo. As the two BDSL tested vets they have a lot of leadership on their shoulders. The stress should be to survive and learn in year 1 for this young side.
Best Case – A playoff berth would be a complete dream for them I think and sneaking up on enough teams to steal the last spot would be as good as it gets for them. Maybe they upset FC Yemen even in Tehel.
Worst Case - Just clearly aren’t ready and were probably best suited to start in D2, they finish last in the division.
Actual – I’m picking them to pull a semi surprising 6th place finish. This is probably way too optimistic.
West Side FC
My Take: I’m not too sure what to make of West Side as a D1 side. last year they were a bit of a early season flop but turned it on late to make the playoffs in the end. After falling to Crimson in Round 1 I woulda had them as a D2 2017 favorite but now in D1 I think they are slightly shaky ground. Noticeably absent is last years leading scorer Brian Knapp, which is even more discouraging. A bumpy road ahead for West Side.
Best Case – Knapp returns and leads them back on a end of the year hot streak again but they fall short of playoffs
Worst Case - They go straight back down to D2 in losing the relegation game at the end of the year.
Actual – I have them 7th in Mingle as their are too many questions and not enough answers overall for me to really have faith in this team.
First Division Prediction:
1) Grand Island FC * 1) NMB FC *
2) Great Lakes Africa * 2) SPAL Buffalo FC*
3) RVS United * 3) Crusaders FC *
4) Pendelton United FC* 4) Rampart FC *
5) Polonia 5) Buffalo Celtic
6) Tonawanda United 6) Tri Town United FC
7) West Side FC 7) Crimson Fire FC
8) Buffalo Gunners 8) Hamburg Monarchs
9) Alden 9) DSC Buffalo
Hamburg Monarchs over Gunners
M1) Grand Island FC over P4) Rampart FC
P1) NMB FC over M4) Pendelton United FC
M2) Great Lakes Africa over P3) Crusaders FC
P2) SPAL Buffalo FC over M3) RVS United
M1) Grand Island FC over P2) SPAL Buffalo FC
M2) Great Lakes Africa over P1) NMB FC
M1) Grand Island FC over M2) Great Lakes Africa
BDSL Division 1 Predictions
Overview: Division 1, much like Division 2, and much like the Bundesliga, is now sporting 18 teams. I really like how this division looks right now; it appears to be relatively even from top to bottom aside from a few outliers. Much like in most divisions’ case, except for maybe the jump between Premier & Championship, I’ve always found myself thinking that there’s hardly any difference between the low end of a division and the top end of the next division down. So, we’re putting that theory to the test this season now that six D2 teams have come up to join the ranks of some long standing D1 sides, as well as the 4 lucky new sides that received this division’s placement. Promotion is up for grabs this summer and I believe it’s attainable by over a half dozen clubs.
Divisional Expectation: 9th Place in Mingle, relegated to D2
Added: 7 Free Agents
Lost: Matt Frank (Bluestars), Neil Gladstone (Panthers), 6 free agents
The only good news here is that they didn’t lose any of their playmakers from past seasons. The bad news is, some of those players are nursing some red card suspensions to start the season. The last thing this team needs is a slow start, but unfortunately I think it happens and I think the season is lost by June. Not sure what our Prez is talking about with Alden and their age; they made a conscious effort this off season to get younger, adding six teenagers. However, the end results don’t change much here.
17. Hamburg Monarchs:
Divisional Expectation: 9th Place in Pepper, relegated to D3
Added: Will Lange (Southtowns FPFC), 6 free agents
Lost: Austin Mathis (Southtowns FPFC), Matt Kane (SPAL), 6 free agents
Had these guys not recruited multiple other Lange’s, I’m not sure they even land a good add in Will Lange. Before I critique, I must say, their Crest is awesome. For me, it’s one of the best in the entire BDSL. Hopefully they can do the Crest some justice, but I’m afraid this team is too similar to last year, and last year’s team couldn’t score goals. Are the free agents addressing that issue? I’d lean towards no.
16. DSC Buffalo:
Divisional Expectation: 8th Place in Pepper, relegated by way of the Wembley Relegation Battle
Added: Nick Sperrazza (Lakeside FC), 5 free agents.
Lost: Max Wojtasik (Polonia), Paul Welker (BSC Inter), 7 free agents
This team is probably as yo-yo as they come; not truly belonging in Division 1 but would probably do really well in Division 2 this summer. I hate to give Schieber credit, but I read his preview and his take on DSC’s inconsistencies in results, last year a division down, is what worries me as well in their 2017 campaign. They’ll need a big year out of Ssozi, Milligan and Salim to push upward to mid-table.
15. Buffalo Gunners:
Divisional Expectation: 8th Place in Mingle
Added: Yasir Alhadeethi & Otmane Boussag (FC Yemen), Wesam Jabbar (FC Yemen II), 5 free agents
Lost: 11 free agents
A lot of turnover here. If Boussag can stay away from the yellow card, he’s actually a really strong defensive add for this side in this division. But the main issue here is who they lost. Ahmed Al-Zinghi found the back of the net often, but Abdessamad Chakir was their Mr. Everything. With him out of the picture, I think the Gunners struggle this season on the offensive side of the ball, something new to them, and perhaps internal frustration mounts. They’ll pluck a win or two from better sides and avoid the drop, but they’ll have to do so by beating DSC in the relegation battle.
14. West Side FC:
Divisional Expectation: 7th Place in Mingle
Added: Martin Cleary, Jackson Fresnel, Todd Hoddick & Rich Morfin (SPAL), Anthony Domenico (Lakeside FC), 4 free agents.
Lost: Eduard Rocamora (RVS United), Nate Gulvin (Rust Belt United), 9 free agents
So here’s when we start getting a bit more competitive in this division, and I can be talked into any team from this point on in making the playoffs, in all seriousness. The reason why I have West Side placed here is because they were a decent, but not great D2 side that got the artificial promotion, plus they don’t have the services (at least for now) of Brian Knapp nor Cory Martin, who over the past few years have paced this team or were a much added boost when they were present. Jackson Fresnel should get goals at this level routinely, and maybe Domenico gets a handful as well. West Side is not a walk in the park, but I wonder if they’re too “meh” of a club to make a serious push in this league. We shall see.
13. Great Lakes Africa:
Divisional Expectation: 6th Place in Mingle
So I have virtually no idea who any of these players are, but I did hear a rumbling that they had ties to the old Lonestar team from five years ago. And that’s all I needed to hear to take them out of the basement of this division and move them up to a mid-table position. Lonestar was part of the best Division 1 of all time. You can say whatever you want about current Division 1’s or some from just a few years ago, but frankly you are incorrect. The 2012 version of the division was so loaded that I’m 100% confident it was better than the Championship Division in that same season, top to bottom. Anyway, this is the kind of tangent you’re going to get in this paragraph from me because I have nothing of value to add here for Great Lakes Africa. They’re this year’s mystery team to me. Based on my track record with mystery teams, they’ll probably win the Tehel Cup.
12. Crimson Fire FC:
Divisional Expectation: 7th Place in Pepper
Added: Eric Smith (Meerkats), 2 free agents
Lost: Danny Tarbell (BUSS), Jake Gleave (Grand Island), “4” free agents
The quotes are for their late season Bantu adds that probably never suited up for them. Anyway, I’m doing Crimson Fire a favor here I think. The core of the team is a respectable bunch with some individuals who will aide in a side that’ll at the very least be competitive. They did lose Tarbell and Gleave and don’t have Mike Asbach’s services for quite some time this season, so I worry more about what they lost than what they have. This is a committed bunch who should show in numbers though, so I think they’re certainly safe from the relegation zone, but maybe not enough here to warrant a playoff appearance.
11. Tri Town United FC:
Divisional Expectation: 6th Place in Pepper
Added: Chris Griffiths (Yemen Elite), Nick Perillo (Rogue FC), 20 free agents
I’ve got a lot to say here for a new club. First, I think they’re going to be in great long term shape with Griffiths at the helm. Second, I wonder how much of an influence Griffiths will have on the pitch this season; from a talent standpoint, he’s going to be one of the best in this league, but is that his role for this club? Or is he more of a mentor, trying to coach the squad while simultaneously playing? That’s a tough job regardless, but I have some faith in this team considering their indoor results in 11v11. That league is filled with Premier and Championship sides, and if nothing else, they held their own. The twenty or so newcomers on this squad have experience playing with one another, so I think they’re a safe mid-table team.
10. Buffalo Celtic:
Divisional Expectation: 5th Place in Pepper
Added: Jason Do (Haz Benz), Jon Opfer (Bluestars), 4 free agents
Lost: Zak Waters (Kingsmen SC), Jonathan Reyes (Delco Academy), 3 free agents
It’s right smack in the middle of first division where I would have placed Buffalo Celtic last year. I think they were in a little over their heads last season once the Celtic club spread their resources thin by creating a fifth team. They’ve done the same this year by creating a sixth team, but it appears as if Buffalo Celtic went untouched. The additions in Do and McKenzie should help keep this team afloat, and I think this side will knock off teams on the top end of the table, while also experiencing a few setbacks from bottom feeders due to mismatches with younger strikers taking on aging defenders.
9. Rampart FC:
Divisional Expectation: 4th Place in Pepper
Added: Tom Fusillo (Amherst Sharpshooters), Mark Kozar (Elmwood Saints), 5 free agents
Lost: Tom Costelloe (Celtic 1888), Steve Huebsch (Celtic Hoops), Tyler Mastin (Delco Academy), 7 free agents
I butchered my order of this Pepper conference the other day on Twitter, so my apologies mostly to Rampart, who were slotted sixth. Rampart is very intriguing to me; they lost some contributors in Principe and the Kerstens, yet had more eye popping adds than most teams can vouch for in Division 1. I think they’ll transition well from D2 to D1 and on paper appear to be pretty deep, but we shall see. Rampart could easily make a deep playoff run and it wouldn’t surprise me.
8. Tonawanda United:
Divisional Expectation: 5th Place in Mingle
Added: 4 free agents
Lost: 5 free agents
Tonawanda United has been in good indoor form, and they replaced some of their losses with returnees from two summers ago in Jake Choate and Phil Giuga. Throw in Nate Holler for a full season now, as long as he gets going on the offensive end, and this can be a pretty dangerous squad. Linderman is probably their best player here so another big year out of him and Tonawanda should see a rather successful campaign. I’m thinking this is also a breakout season for Charlie Richards.
7. Pendleton United FC:
Divisional Expectation: 4th Place in Mingle
Added: Kyle Jones (PLYSA Toros), 2 free agents
Lost: Zach Huber (Revolution SC), 3 free agents
Matt Pickard would have been nice to have defensively this season for PUFC, but alas, they don’t, so Juszczak will have to be an animal at center back to prevent what will undoubtedly be a league that contains more pure goal scorers than last year’s Division 2. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this side, but I guess I’ll phrase it as ‘their ceiling is a first round playoff exit’. Maldiner and Jones will get some goals this summer, but I don’t think they’ll come as easy, so expect to see both of their numbers tail off a bit in 2017. These guys should rely heavily on possession and ground attack, and they should do just fine.
Divisional Expectation: 3rd Place in Mingle
Added: Randy Mayer (Great White Buffalo), Max Wojtasik (DSC Buffalo), 9 free agents
Lost: 6 to Kingsmen SC, 7 free agents
Massive overhaul for Polonia, and they certainly got younger. In Sahlen’s 11v11 action, apparently they are capable of drawing all teams, so that to me sounds like ‘competitive’. But at the same time, you could argue that they may toss away two points a couple times this summer in games they should win, so I’m dropping Polonia into the playoff eligible range, but not quite the promotion eligible range. The departure of Dan Helman, and Aaron Andrews’ three game suspension means this team may start slow as they try to find the right nucleus of players to score goals and defend their own 18.
5. Crusaders FC:
Divisional Expectation: 3rd Place in Pepper
Added: Will Bolton (Lakeside FC), Max Montante & Charles Stube (Niagara FC)
This team is dangerous. Honestly, not acquiring Wes Rider isn’t as big of a blow as people may make it out to be, which is not a knock on Rider but more of a compliment to how strong this side should be in the division. Max Montante is a fantastic add, as is Bolton, and they should get consistent play out of the Bobak’s. I have them in fifth only because I think they’ll have other commitments from time to time due to their age, or tired legs by Sunday night in some cases. But this is a team that can make some noise come playoff time and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
4. NMB FC:
Divisional Expectation: 2nd Place in Simpkin
Added: 11 free agents
Lost: Ben Sivitilli (Roos FC), Matt Nesper (Rangers), Chris Aurilio, Alex Drainville & Matt Jones (Lykan FC)
Well, they would have lost a lot more had Good Guys materialized, but that project died almost as quickly as it was born. Yet still, there are some gaping holes that left this side, including a scoring threat in Jones, the patchwork late add in Sivitilli, who probably would have done wonders for them last year had he been around for a full season, a strong outside back/mid in Nesper, and one of their longstanding defensive stalwarts and Manager in Chris Aurilio. So why 4th do you ask? I think the additions in Noel and Burns specifically keep this team at bay at least to where they were last season. Last season, I thought they underperformed as well. NMB houses the best goalie in the division in my opinion in Corretore, no disrespect to Alex Bratos of SPAL. I’m expecting a positive 2017 off of a slightly underwhelming 2016, even though I think the 2016 version, overall, was a better side.
3. RVS United:
Divisional Expectation: 2nd Place in Mingle
Added: Jon Chavanne & Aaron Crane (Great White Buffalo), Eduardo Rocamora (West Side FC), Anthony Gallo (Williamsville Willies), 8 free agents
Lost: Joe Chudy, Alex Konst & Justin Pepe (Celtic 1888), Jake Latello, Joe Loecher & Joe Machnica (Delco Academy), Sam Eckert (Great White Buffalo), 6 free agents
This is another strong side that can make noise come playoff time. They had quite a bit of turnover, but they retained some of their strong players and brought in probably Great White Buffalo’s best two attacking players in Chavanne and Crane (maybe?). Jason Martin was a very nice add as well. So all things considered, I think RVS can build upon a pretty decent 2016.
2. SPAL Buffalo FC:
Divisional Expectation: 1st Place in Pepper
Added: Alex Bratos (Rogue FC), Frank Poppolo (BUSS), Brendan Sanders (FC Quake), Kyle Bork (Nickel City Wanderers), Matt Kane (Hamburg Monarchs), Tyler Mason (Lykan FC), Antonio Toe (FC Yemen), 5 free agents.
Lost: George Yapa, Joel Clarke & Joe Boahen (Buffalo Bantu), Jackson Fresnel, Martin Cleary, Rich Morfin & Todd Hoddick (West Side), 6 free agents.
SPAL with their normal heavy turnover in the offseason as per usual but my oh my, I like what they’ve done even with the departure of Yapa and Fresnel specifically. It appears as if they’ve upgraded everywhere on the pitch and most certainly have more depth. Bubba Ralyea returns after a year off, so he could be an X factor, and David Gordon is doing the same after last playing for Lakeside. I think this side has what it takes to make the jump into Championship, and perhaps this season they’ve been graced with a slightly easier schedule than the unfortunate one they were tasked with in 2016.
1. Grand Island FC:
Divisional Expectation: 1st Place in Mingle
Added: Garrett Robinson & Lucas Robinson (Niagara FC), Nick Szabo (SoHo FC), Jake Gleave (Crimson Fire)
So here’s the thing. Nowadays in Division 1, there’s always a heavily stacked High School team that joins the BDSL ranks. In 2015, it was OP Alliance. In 2016, it was Williamsville Willies. In 2017, it’ll be Grand Island FC. Promotion should occur, being that most of these guys have State final experience under their belt, or they’re part of a recent breeding ground of exceptional soccer players who played Academy instead, which would have made those high school teams even that much more potent. What’s really interesting here is that the team is carrying a trio of fathers as well, in their 50’s. These guys may have been good players back in 1945 during the War for all I know, but I think if anything they bring structure to a young team. Probably means this team will be well organized as well as talented. That’s a lethal combination.
Quarterfinal Playoff Results:
#1 Grand Island defeats #8 Tonawanda United in the quarterfinals; a game that’s much closer than expected but GI gets a late winner to advance 2-1 in regulation.
#2 SPAL defeats #7 Pendleton United in overtime. The scare SPAL didn’t want, but got, but ultimately survived.
#3 RVS United defeats #6 Polonia 2-0. The game is close throughout, but Haines bags an insurance goal with 5 to play.
#5 Crusaders FC goes on the road and beats #4 NMB FC as the team starts to gel late in the year. It’s Corretore’s last game as his services are noticed by Premier and Championship teams.
Semi-Final Weekend Results:
#1 Grand Island defeats #5 Crusaders FC in the public/private BDSL challenge. Crusaders make their move in ’18, while Grand Island makes its move to Championship in 2017.
#2 SPAL defeats #3 RVS United 3-1, and makes it look easy for some reason. The scare the week before invigorates the bunch to bring it for a full 90 at the expense of the Lancaster based squad.
Buffalo Gunners defeat DSC Buffalo in the Relegation Battle because Gunners care more to win it.
#1 Grand Island FC continues to hold serve and is recognized as one of three teams this season to secure the Double (spoiler alert). SPAL plays a fantastic game but Grand Island capitalizes on a few mistakes and takes the game 3-1.