In our second 2017 BDSL preview league president Michael Schieber gives his outlook for our 2nd division. Soon to be added will be Treasurer Brian Rademaker's predictions as well.
DISCLAIMER: While I am league president, I want to be as open and honest in these as I can. So with all that said lets you the readers and myself the writer make a quick deal that nothing I say in this or any preview is personal. Just my thoughts about the teams the divisions, mixed with so bad jokes and poor grammar/spelling. Deal? Ok…………..
Second Division Overview:
So after saying how down am I about the prospects in D3, it’s a total reversal here because I love D2. Top to bottom I think its super strong. The playoff battles here are going to be so hotly contested. I think conference wise Odenbach is harder then Simpkin. But again overall these are both going to be hotly contested overall. I think it’s the most balanced of all 5 BDSL divisions. Each week should be a lot of fun for D2 sides. I really can’t stress how important making the semis in this division will be here. Making the semis gives you two shots at promotion this year. So teams should be striving to earn that One thing I will say is I think that there are a lot of good players in this division whose teams have counted on in the past and attendance wise they have really doomed their previous clubs. Who ever can get the best team to show up on game days vs what their roster says will make it out of this.
My Take: Blizzard come in this year with a touch of a squad take over as Brian Ziolo has left and handed the reigns to Ian Smith and Luke Haag. I think these two have slightly bigger goals and better ideas to reach them. They have a great goalie if not D2’s best in Parker-Norton. I think that depth wise it’s a bit weak but they could shore that up as season moves along. With that in mind its imperative the big names stay healthy and active for BFC to earn a playoff spot.
Best Case – Things click into place and Blizzard FC position themselves at the top of Odenbach securing a hugely important 1st round bye. They beat the second place out of Simpkin and then topple whichever conference rival makes it to the championship for the double. Then get a tremble with a Wood Cup to boot
Worst Case – They get a rash of injuries and uneven midfield play that sends then down in this brutal conference. Wind up in 6th by years end after late surge.
Actual – I think they earn their first ever playoff birth, as they stay healthy enough to grab the Odenbach 3 seed but crash out in round 1 when the playoff seeding sees then play another conference rival.
My Take: They were saved from relegation when they were hand picked by the Celtic family to be their D2 rep at first. That’s some pressure but it’s been alleviated some with Brigade joining the fray late in D2 too. There were signs with them last year that they have some talent but it came fair to late in year to matter. Who shows up on Sundays will determine their final table spot.
Best Case – In this stacked conference the absolute best case I can see for them is 5th. Just too uneven for me to have any faith at all that they can move up any higher let alone threaten for a playoff spot.
Worst Case – A season much like last where they have flickers of talent and promise but find themselves relegated due to lack of effort, attitude or attendance.
Actual – I think they show more then the poor 2016 campaign but still not enough to scare anyone one. 7th place finish.
My Take: This team was a little irked I picked against them in Wood Cup but they legitimate had only revealed maybe 4 players at that time. Today, while the full roster is up their they remain as unknown to me as when they had 5 guys. This is a young team with no one rostered over 22 and little to no BDSL or college experience. So in the end I’m glad I didn’t take them and for the season have placed them to account for this relative uncertainty with just what they have here.
Best Case – This is a team young hot shots and they shock the D2 scene with a 2nd place finish in Simpkin. They are upset though in semis but manage the extra promotion spot with the play in game victory.
Worst Case – The young ones are beaten down by the more physical sides of D2. They go on lots of family vacations hurting attendance. In the end they are fighting against relegation and barely survive.
Actual – I think they could make some noise. A positive first year in 6th and build on that for 2018.
My Take: I just think they are getting older and not doing enough to stay super competitive. But at the same time I respect it because this is their team and that’s that. I can understand that. So kudos to them for resisting the urge to start changing if that’s not what they think is right. It is just a Sunday league after all. This just means I think they have a poor season out look though. They also got the worst luck getting jammed into Odenbach.
Best Case – 7th is as high as I can see.
Worst Case – The gauntlet that is this conference tramples them. Though they are certainly not the worst team they finish with the worst record in D2.
Actual – Again I think 1-18 in D2 they are like 15 or so. But they way things shook out sadly I have them relegated right now in 9th.
My Take: As we continue to stay in Odenbach here we arrive at Delco, which is a very interesting team for me. There were whispers of them adding Reegan Steele, which would have been the coup of the century and made them the D2 favorite going away. While that ultimately didn’t come to pass, Mitch Cancilla is a pretty good consolation prize. This side I think is a prime example of what are we going to get week to week? Sometimes we may see a top team other times attendance might be low and its more like an also ran. But I like a lot of this team make up to think of them as the former not the latter.
Best Case – Delco doesn’t need Steele to muscle their way to the top. They snag 1st overall in Odenbach and win the D2 crown in the final.
Worst Case – A weak start is hard to over come and instead of battling for a playoff spot they are trying to just hold onto a middle of the pack spot.
Actual – I think they are the strongest team on paper but won’t show it often enough. I think they take second but turn up the heat in the playoffs where they finish the year as D2 champs.
My Take: Well it comes to no surprise that they have new management and are looking to restart in the Village. I think that there will be some early struggles to keep moral up. It’s been a tough two-year run for roster holdovers. Fenton and Pirinelli have a tall task ahead. Year 1 should be about building to beat the drop into D3. Playoffs aren’t in the cards but they should have enough experience here to fight it out of the basement.
Best Case – If things go perfect they can finish 7th I think.
Worst Case – Another year like last year and the new bosses throw in the towel and were reading a BDSL Rumors Obit for them in 2018.
Actual – Again I like the roster enough to see them surviving and hope that the new guys give this thing the time it takes to rebuild. 8th place but still in D2 which is important cause that means a 2018 for them.
My Take: I’d venture to say a favorite for D2 for most in BDSL. I’m not one to argue either. Holding onto Au and Tellgren gives then instance offense at anytime. Defensively they are OK but not great. They would do well to use an attacking mentality for most games and try to get leads. I think counter attacking football fits them. They are an imposing team to face and should try to use that to their advantage as well.
Best Case – Much like last year a small slip up early on but they get the job done vs the other contenders, which has them sitting in first come year-end. They beat out a similar Blizzard team to make the finals and clinch promotion.
Worst Case – Hard to say for them. I can’t envision them out of the playoffs. I suppose they make enough errors to fall to third in Simpkin and then both Wildcard spots go to Odenbach teams and they miss the playoffs altogether.
Actual – I think finishing second is reasonable. I have them making the promotion play in game but falling to Simpkin rival FC Yemen II
FC Yemen II
My Take: Speaking of which FC Yemen II is a team I think gets lost in the shuffle some. They quietly have a very talented team that should be one of the best in all of D2. As is the case this them the biggest issue will be discipline if they can keep their heads focused on soccer and not the rest then they really should do well.
Best Case – Sprint past the D2 field en route to an undefeated season. Pile up the goals while doing the tremble as Wood Cup and playoff champs as well.
Worst Case – Obviously they loose their cool often enough to set them back to where playoffs are out of reach again. Even with some problems though it’s difficult for me to see them outside of the post season.
Actual – I think its overall a good team that will finally move into D1 where they really want to be but ultimately in the play in game and not the championship.
My Take: FKB had a dream playoff run last year. While it was awesome to see and their team gets full marks for their run, I’m not so sure on similar prospects here in D2. I just think the field is much better then D3, which means on a week-to-week basis they’ll need their A+, game more often. I think that’s a tall ask for this team. On the other hand I think they’ll be good enough where they don’t flirt with relegation really. An up and down year for them where they land in the middle I think.
Best Case – If things go great in this conference for them I could see them 5th.
Worst Case – At the absolute worst I don’t think they fall lower then 7th.
Actual – So naturally I have them in 6th.
My Take: I really have mixed feelings here. I spent some time in indoor with a few of these guys and that group if fairly solid. So I was intrigued to see the full roster. But when that came out I wasn’t exactly enamored with it. So I think the building blocks are here but I don’t think enough are in place to be as big as a threat as I first thought. I think midfield and defense will be their strengths but I question some attendance and scoring issues.
Best Case – I was right initially and should stuck with them, as they are an unquestionable playoff team. They ear promotion one way or another by years end while also winning Wood Cup.
Worst Case – Their rosters isn’t deep enough and a few guys bail out on them. Attendance issues push them lower then they expected into a 6th place finish
Actual – Came in at 5th and I’m super uncomfortable with this.
My Take: The Wolf Mill team piece from 2015 reunite here with a new name and vision. I think long term they can be a successful side but in year one I think some growing pains are in order. I like their wing play in both attack and defense but their center has me hesitating some. I think they are slightly deeper then other new teams and have higher division experience so using that to their advantage will be key. I will say if you have to specifically say your team name is not affiliated with a motorcycle gang of ill repute that maybe you shouldn’t have chosen it as your team name no matter how nice it sounds.
Best Case – Despite their claims they are actually apart of the motorcycle gang. Other teams are afraid off the repercussions of beating them and lose intentionally. They finish undefeated and are promoted by the board right to Premier where they become the greatest club in league history.
Worst Case – Despite their claims they are actually apart of the motorcycle gang but the cops arrest all of them before they can bribe and bully their way to the top of the league. Everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief.
Actual – I’ll just place them safely in 5th to avoid any problems.
My Take: One of the Meerkats spin offs here and two major things to consider. First this is a pretty good team on paper with solid options all over the field so things are looking out. Second though, my scouting report has this group as a poor attendance team, which I historically hate. So I think they could be really good if committed. Like potentially the best D2 even. So it’s a risky pick here because talent is their but will it matter?
Best Case – They commit and run rampant. Treble with Wood Cup, Regular season title and playoff crown.
Worst Case – It’s a struggle to get 11 on game days for them and despite the talent they suffer an uneven year sliding down to 7th.
Actual – Screw it. Let’s have some fun. 1st place finish in the deeper D2 conference Odenbach. Promotion run to finals before falling to Delco.
My Take: This side seemingly had not one but two spin off teams appear this year. I don’t know how sustainable this is for them. To their credit this isn’t the first time manager Zach Trunzo had faced a defection. Aside from this Meerkats have yo-yoed a bit between D1 and D2. I think they have the potential to challenge again for a promotion but something is scaring me away from pulling the trigger. Oh wait I know why. They lost almost everyone who contributed on a consistent level offensively last year. Its up to Strangio to carry the heavy load.
Best Case – After a middling year, all the alumni here ask to return and they field an impressive 2018 line up.
Worst Case – They implode basically because they just start pulling randos from their kickball team onto the soccer team to get a line up. Jimmy who can kick a ball really good on the diamond though won’t cut it in BDSL.
Actual – I really hate having them this high cause the bottom could drop out hard, but they are 5th for me right now. I hate this.
Queen City Pride
My Take: We’ve talked about some new team keeping things close to the vest and this is certainly one of the biggest examples of it. This side has keep a pretty low profile roster and self-promo wise. Overall it’s a decent team on paper. Lacking an obvious stand out though. So really with them this is a straight gut and intuition pick. I’ve already said that Simpkin is the weaker of the two so I could roll the dice a bit here and pick this mysterious side as one of the better ones for no other reason than a Queenston City team deserves to do that name some justice.
Best Case – Several guys on this team I’ve never heard of are amazing and they shoulda been a D1 side. The cruise through league play finishing 1st then in equally easy fashion take the D2 title for the double.
Worst Case – A thin roster means any games with poor attendance or injuries are crippling and they can’t recover finishing up 8th.
Actual – The Queenston parent club takes 3rd place but misses out on a wild card spot.
My Take: I’m going to retire the tired Seinfeld jokes I make year in and year out with them (or by mentioning it did I sorta still make it?). Instead lets glance at the roster…. Yeah I don’t know a soul on it. I mean they were really pretty bad last year and I guess I won’t expect different cause I have no reason not to. Really that simple here.
Best Case – Ukraine Strong! God damn it...I swear it just came out. 6th place.
Worst Case – Time to put the hurt on Ukraine…. I can’t help myself; I’m so sorry… 9th.
Actual – How about I take your board game and smash into pieces!!! 8th…. Let’s just move on and forget this last one. Just not my best work.
WNY United Reds
My Take: Typically I like to praise Reds for their underrated player moves and I think they’ve once again made some simple changes to keep things the same for them. This team is pretty similar year in and out. They’ll struggle to score consistently, play solid defense and have one or two surprising results both good and bad. They’ll flirt with the bottom before settling for like 7th. This is WNY United Reds.
Best Case – In a weaker Simpkin conference I could see like 5th if add Stone Cold Steve Austin is great for them. Not enough for playoffs but the highest they’ve finished in some time.
Worst Case – They could also certainly finish dead last if the defense falls apart. They just are short on offense that like any game where someone scores 3 on them is an automatic loss.
Actual – If they were in Odenbach they’d be in some trouble but graced with Simpkin I have them in 7th.
West Seneca Strikers
My Take: The return of Strikers brought a smile to my face. They were a shock entry back this season as last we saw of them it wasn’t pretty with a winless season back in 2015. They folded up and avoided last year in D2 but now sit in the same spot if they stayed together. What concerns me is that I don’t see a lot changing for them. I woulda had them ranked as a low end D2 last year and I think the talent over all is better in 2017 then 2016 so I’m not sure what they are expecting but I could certainly see another poor year ahead for them Luckily Simpkin is easier but I don’t have a lot of fair here.
Best Case – Time rewinds to summer ‘08 where they are young deep and destined for promotion. They celebrate post game victories listening to Soulja Boy and A Milli (yeah those are nearly 10 years old I’m as stunned as you are)
Worst Case – Its 2015 all over again and commiserate losses by listening to Watch Me (Whip/NaeNae) and Hotline Bling (yes those songs are in fact 2 years old too.)
Actual – It’s 2017 and they lose a lot in finishing last. They listen to The Chainsmokers because I think they are the only people still making music from what I can tell.
My Take: Glad that this side got the call to move up into D2 as it seemed like it was a big selling point for to hold onto a player or too. That said they did lose one of their best players in O’Keefe for the limelight of Premier. Still my hopes are high with this young side on keeping pace with the other big guns in Odenbach. In fact their inclusion is another reason that conference is so stacked. Its up to their remaining heavy hitters in Conner O’Keefe, Dragone, Miller, and Hastings to continue to lead this club. In the mix for sure playoff hunt wise.
Best Case – Over looked the sneak up on some other D2 teams who don’t value them too much. Led by timely scoring they quietly take 2nd place. In the playoffs, they fall in semis but take the promotion game to secure back-to-back moves up the ladder.
Worst Case – Their team speed isn’t as big as an advantage in a more physical and fit D2. They middle around before a run of poor form knocks them to 7th and they remain there.
Actual – I have them placed 5th. This team is dangerous and could make the playoffs though. I do have worries about the quality of D2 v D3 but they have enough on paper for me to think they can handle it if they work hard and for each other.
Second Division Prediction:
* = Playoffs
1) Los Chupacabras * 1) FC Yemen II*
2) Delco Academy * 2) Dutch FC*
3) Buffalo Blizzard FC* 3) Queen City Pride*
4) Youngstown Marksmen* 4) Meerkats FC
5) Honey Badgers* 5) Kingsmen SC
6) FK Bosna 6) Celtic Brigade
7) Celtic 1888 7) WNY United Reds
8) Depew Village 8) Ukraine
9) Cheektowaga 9) West Seneca Strikers
O1) Los Chupacabras over O5) Honey Badgers
S1) FC Yemen II over S3) Queen City Pride
S2) Dutch FC over O4) Youngstown Marksmen
O2) Delco Academy over O3) Buffalo Blizzard FC
O1) Los Chupacabras over S2) Dutch FC
O2) Delco Academy over S1) FC Yemen II
O2) Delco Academy over O1) Los Chupacabras
S1) FC Yemen over S2) Dutch FC
BDSL Division 2 Predictions
Overview: Division 2 has a completely new look to it this year for a variety of reasons. First, with 74 teams and a general league wide consensus that promotion is a goal (teams all do check mark promotional eligible after all), it made sense to build a few of these divisions sideways rather than create an additional rung in the BDSL ladder. It shaves off at least a year for a team that’s trying to work its way up the ranks. Due to this adjustment in D1 and D2, many teams were forced up into Division 1, creating a lot of room in Division 2 to bring up the more competitive 2016 D3 sides, as well as house plenty of new teams, some of which are spin-offs from long standing teams of the league. What you get is a mix of decent talent, but quite frankly an overall watered down effect.
18. Depew Village:
Divisional Expectation: 9th Place in Odenbach, relegated to D3
Added: 13 Free Agents
Lost: Al Franjoine (Panthers), Tom Ricciardi (FC Quake), Andy Reidy (Dutch), Collin Wittman (Great Lakes FC), 10 free agents
This team is gutted. So it goes for a relegated side, but honestly, all of their big pieces are gone, including recently retired JP Sfeir, who not only helped centrally from a defensive standpoint, but had to stand in net last year on multiple occasions. Losing a player like that, amongst others listed in the “Lost” section above, and you’re left with essentially a new BDSL club. Depew may go winless this season.
Divisional Expectation: 9th Place in Simpkin, relegated to D3
Added: 7 free agents
Lost: Radenko Ristic (Tesla FC), 8 free agents
Ukraine is fortunate to be part of Division 2 this year, having actually been relegated last season. What makes matters worse is that they no longer have Ismail Mavludov on the roster, so I guess expectations here are equal to last year at best. I did hear they scooped up an actual keeper, and not a field player by trade like last year, so perhaps they improve slightly.
16. West Seneca Strikers:
Divisional Expectation: 8th Place in Simpkin
Added: Andy Bartz and Jacob Bartz (Nickel City Wanderers), Matt Mernan, Jaroslaw Sloboda & Will Strehlow (all of PLYSA Toros), 5 Rust Belt United defectees, and 9 free agents.
So let me get this straight: You’ve brought back a team that last played for the BDSL in 2015, a year in which you were relegated from Division 1 to Division 2. You then add 5 guys from last year’s bottom feeder of the entire BDSL, plus 3 guys from a struggling 2016 PLYSA and 2 from relegated Nickel City. Sounds successful! Eeks out 8th place in front of Ukraine.
15. Celtic Brigade:
Divisional Expectation: 7th Place in Simpkin
Added: Jakob Walter (Celtic 1888), Donald Minderler & Evan Scales (Niagara FC), Chuck Pfohl (Stone Jug), 14 free agents
You can thank Good Guys FC, Celtic Brigade. With the Good Guys late drop, Brigade got the Promotion call up in the division they requested during the February meeting. I’m ok with it because I think they belong in this division. It’s just I’m not sure what kind of commitment level these youngsters will have. We already know the Niagara FC adds don’t show all that much, despite some skill there, so I’m treating this team similar to Celtic 1888 last year. Inconsistent results, and I can see this team giving away points to lesser teams on their own side, keeping their ceiling at a minimum.
14. Queen City Pride:
Divisional Expectation: 6th Place in Simpkin
Added: Zac Morris (Nickel City Wanderers), Grayson Dolata (PLYSA Toros), 15 free agents
The Reid brothers seem to be quality adds for this new side which I admittedly know very little about. Even though their early season schedule isn’t too troubling, I think their season comes to a screech-ing halt by mid-June, but with enough favorable results to avoid the drop. And time out for a second…I hate the team name. It’s bordering way too close to us here at Queenston FC, so for this alone I tacked on an additional loss. I’m going to assume they’ll add more players to their side as the season progresses, but what worries me here is that Zac Morris is coming from Nickel City where management figured 10-12 players per game was acceptable. I wouldn't be surprised if they forfeited a game due to lack of players based on past history and current available players. That’s what this team will be staring at week to week if just 4 guys or so decide to miss a Sunday evening tilt to take a trip down to Malibu Sands. They’re teetering close to the danger zone.
13. WNY United Reds:
Divisional Expectation: 5th Place in Simpkin
Added: Brian Dunn (West Side), Paul Schiappa (Great White Buffalo), 2 Free agents
Lost: Ben Dinehart, Joey Gabor and Salvatore Rine (Honey Badgers), 3 Free Agents
For as long as I can remember, the Reds have always lacked goal scoring, and it’s been a problem because their defense has held up well in most of their fixtures, both last year and historically speaking. It almost goes to waste in a way. Chris Duerr continues to be the only potential threat up top available to the Reds. I do think Free Agent add Mike Biggane will give this team a boost. They’ll be a middling side in the weaker Simpkin conference, but fail to make the playoff push due to crossover results (they should get a W from Depew however).
12. Celtic 1888:
Divisional Expectation: 8th Place in Odenbach
Added: Nathan Lawson and Casey Morgan (Celtic Hoops), Tom Costelloe (Rampart), Joe Chudy, Alex Konst & Justin Pepe (RVS United), 2 free agents
Lost: Aaron Kleinschmidt (Meerkats), 7 free agents
If I’m not mistaken, Max McArthur was a big contributor to this side last year, and he’s currently not rostered. They were technically relegated into Division 3 but were bailed out by the divisional re-structure. However, they seemed to do fairly well in the offseason with their additions. Plus, this team isn’t hovering around the 18-20 age range like Brigade, more so the 21-23 age range which I actually think makes a difference on a lot of levels, so I expect this team to do enough to avoid relegation. I think they’re playing in the tougher conference but should grab a few non-conference victories.
11. Meerkats FC:
Divisional Expectation: 4th Place in Simpkin
Added: Ben Rung (Queenston), Eric Tower & Eladio Garcia (LaSalle FC), Aaron Kleinschmidt (Celtic 1888), Zach Sarratori (Elmwood Saints), 7 free agents
Lost: 5 to Los Chupacabras, Matt Belardi (Celtic United), Eric Smith (Crimson Fire), 6 free agents
Meerkats certainly lost a lot to the Chupacabras, but their replacements, on paper, are good. I wonder what David Thoin brings to this side – could be a difference maker perhaps. Meerkats navigated fairly well last year after a torrid start to the season from Scotty Falla, before he relocated mid-season, so I’m thinking they’ll be virtually unchanged from last season when it’s all said and done, and you can thank some of that to the Simpkin division.
10. Honey Badgers:
Divisional Expectation: 7th Place in Odenbach
Added: Ben Dinehart, Joey Gabor, & Salvatore Rine (WNY United Reds), Mike Gandt (Roos FC), 12 free agents
I’m just going to assume that most of these guys are all friends based on some sort of weird camaraderie feeling I get from their Twitter account and followers. So I stuck them in the middle of the division because of this and only this. Decent skill here from what I can tell, based on some specific names seen on their roster. Gandt has the ability to stuff the stat sheet this year in this division, but then I remember how little he’d show for Roos so immediately I must question the commitment level here, on yet another team running a fairly thin roster (to start).
9. Blizzard FC:
Divisional Expectation: 6th Place in Odenbach
Added: Brandon Bernard & Adam Pisarski (FC Aftershock), 3 Free agents
Lost: 6 Free agents
Not really any flashy adds for this side, but the team re-branded and seems extremely dedicated this offseason. Of course, that can only get you so far, but they’ve retained the big pieces in Haag, Bailey, Smith, Hoffmann (if she shows frequently), Gibb and Parker-Norton between the pipes. I think a tough conference schedule hurts their chances at cracking into the playoffs (when compared to say, Kingsmen SC’s route), putting them mid-pack in the division this year once again.
8. Kingsmen SC:
Divisional Expectation: 3rd Place in Simpkin
Added: 6 players from Polonia, Zak Waters (Buffalo Celtic), Chris Lambe (Haz Benz), Dan Carnevale (FC Aftershock), 12 free agents
To me, this team is missing one glaring name that I thought they would SURELY secure, although I’m not sure if he relocated or whatnot: Dan Helman. I think he would have been the missing piece to have this team rise up the ranks a bit. In any event, this is not a bad team, assuming they don’t pull a Wolf Mill of 2015 again. So I’ll say they do a little bit of both: They get some quality wins, but back pedal a bit at times, finding it difficult to score from other pieces outside of Levasseur, but once again, Simpkin conference delivers them enough points to sneak into the playoffs.
Divisional Expectation: 5th Place in Odenbach
Added: 2 Free agents
Lost: 2 Free agents
As unchanged as they can ever come, really. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about Cheektowaga that I like. They get the same sort of production out of the same players year in and year out. They can score, and at times they also seemingly defend. It’s this kind of team that I think takes advantage of other teams’ lack of bodies on a given weekend the most due to the fact that they run out the same people year over year. I think Cheektowaga actually makes a very deep run in the Wood Cup while also making a late charge into the playoff picture, winning 5 of their last 6.
6. Youngstown Marksmen:
Divisional Expectation: 4th Place in Odenbach
Added: Mike Ciraolo (LaSalle FC), Brett Sanders (FC Aftershock), 5 free agents
Lost: Colin O’Keefe (Queenston), Ryan Miller and Jack Tewsley (Niagara FC), 5 free agents
You may have read Schieber’s preview by now, so let me lead with this: I’m 100% positive Ryan Miller won’t continue to lead this club during 2017, considering he’s playing for Niagara FC, unless he’s some sort of motivational speaker at Sunday Church or something. Anyway, I’m about to talk out of both sides of my mouth here. An absolutely massive loss with Colin O’Keefe out of the picture, but yet I think they show some modest success in Division 2 this year. That’s because I really think we’re underestimating how decent the top of Division 3 was last year, say, compared to most of Division 2 last year. So for this reason alone, I already had them moving up the ranks. Zack Westadt seems to be getting better by the month, and a healthy Jake Braun should also keep the defensive line stout. There have also been rumblings that perhaps Max Braun ends up here later in the year. If so, the league is on notice.
5. FK Bosna:
Divisional Expectation: 3rd Place in Odenbach
Added: Sami Abdulmalik (Yemen Elite), 4 free agents
Lost: Aweso Noor (Buffalo Bantu), Dimitre Valkanov (Oranje), 7 free agents
I treat this team very similarly to the Marksmen, in that these guys played to a 0-0 120’ draw before Bosna advanced to the title game in penalties. Their late season push last year was impressive, after a tough schedule early on in May. They’ve retained most of their impact players and added a couple more that could help. I think Abdulmalik could have a resurgence this summer in Division 2, bagging a half dozen goals or so. FK Bosna should safely coast through the season always in a playoff position.
4. Los Chupacabras:
Divisional Expectation: 2nd Place in Odenbach
Added: 5 from Meerkats, 14 free agents
Some former Meerkats from a few seasons ago make up some of the free agent adds, along with Jeremy Bari. I like the nucleus this team has, and their Niagara Wheatfield track record from recent HS results bodes well for upcoming success this summer. Some community college soccer experience can be found on this roster sprinkled with some other D3 ballers, so talent will not be an issue here. As usual, I place high emphasis on sheer numbers. No one succeeds in this league with 11-12 guys per game unless your name is Celtic United.
3. FC Yemen II:
Divisional Expectation: 2nd Place in Simpkin
Added: Hesham Almontaser (FC Yemen), Jonathan Correa (Aurora Arsenal II), 8 free agents
Lost: Abdi Salim & Jabreel Almontaser (FC Yemen), 11 free agents
The Yemen squads swapped some Almontaser’s both of whom I do not know so…we’ll call it even? Abdi Salim is a big loss but he hardly played for the 2nd best FC Yemen side last season. The Fares’ omissions are glaring, too, but I like the fact that they retained Ali Mohamed. FC Yemen II was really vocal this offseason trying to gain the artificial promotion to Division 1, so something must be brewing there from a free agent standpoint to have them think that highly of their talents. I actually believe them. I think this team will be pretty successful this summer and gain promotion into Division 1, having earned it.
2. Delco Academy:
Divisional Expectation: 1st Place in Odenbach
Added: Mitch Cancilla & Chris Cary (Rogue FC), Jake Latello, Joe Loecher & Joe Machnica (RVS United), Cody Young, Ricky Mullen, Dan Cavallari & Adam Cavallari (PLYSA)
Almost Added: Regan Steele (Amherst Sharpshooters)
This is a strong roster for a new team. In retrospect, had I known this would be their final roster, interesting divisional placement discussions would have been had, at least in my opinion, as I’d say they belong in Division 1. Time will tell, but I think this team at least gets challenged in a stronger Odenbach division, but ultimately still edge Dutch head to head out of conference, yet still fall behind them in total points earned in the regular season. The best two teams in this league are playing at one of the worst home fields the league has to offer in Walden Pond. Does this stray some of their more talented guys from showing as often? Perhaps they slip up twice with a loss and a draw.
1. Dutch FC:
Divisional Expectation: 1st Place in Simpkin
Added: Andy Reidy (Depew Village), DJ Cook (Devils), Ryan Woodard (Great White Buffalo)
Lost: 4 free agents
Dutch has improved, and they’re already a strong roster to begin with. Couple that with a fairly easy and straight forward schedule, and I’d have to think they’ll end up being the #1 overall seed heading into the playoffs. I will say that I think Delco is better, “pound for pound”, but I don’t think that’ll end up ever being answered or materialize because of how the playoffs will shake down. But at least these two teams will have a chance to settle it over a 90 minute game in season. Again, I believe there to be a more seamless transition for the top half of last year’s Division 3 into this watered down Division 2. Dutch should enjoy soccer and beers this season.
Quarterfinal Playoff Results:
#1 Dutch defeats #8 Kingsmen SC in the quarterfinals, handing Kingsmen their 3rd loss in as many tries to Dutch over the course of the season (Wood Cup, Regular Season, Playoffs)
#2 Delco Academy defeats #7 Cheektowaga rather convincingly.
#3 FC Yemen II defeats #6 Youngstown Marksmen in a tightly contested match, home team prevailing with a late winner.
#5 FK Bosna upsets #4 Los Chupacabras because Bosna seems to care more and catches Los Chup’s asleep at the wheel.
Semi-Final Playoff Results:
#1 Dutch defeats #5 FK Bosna, exacting revenge for the Division 3 final.
#3 FC Yemen II, amidst a ton of controversy over a PK call, edge Delco Academy at a neutral site location, since Walden Pond only allows one game per week at their facility, giving a slight edge back to the visitors. Plus, the Rogue guys don’t show because they want to hit the waters and jet ski with some other Canisius friends.
Finals Week Results:
#3 FC Yemen II delivers #1 Dutch a 2nd consecutive finals loss in as many years, but Dutch is already satisfied with a deep Wood Cup run and promotion into Division 1. The game is a lot more anticlimactic than one would like. FC Yemen II wins 3-1.
Meanwhile, #2 Delco Academy and #5 FK Bosna leave it all on the field at Nichols in the Promotion eligible game (which is all the Rogue guys cared about with their decision a week earlier), and Delco knocks two in late to win comfortably 4-1.