Flint City Bucks regain form on the pitch with shutout of Midwest United

| August 23, 2020 | Comments (0)



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FLINT — Sunday’s soccer match didn’t mean anything towards any type of standings, cup or tournament. But for the players, coaches and management, it meant the world to be back out on the pitch again.

The Flint City Bucks, the 2019 U.S. Soccer League II North American champions, kicked off their belated 2020 exhibition schedule Sunday at historic Atwood Stadium in Flint and walked off with an impressive 8-0 shutout of visiting Midwest United.

“It was on my mind a little bit but at the end of the day, I’m just going to come out and play and play hard and try to score goals,” said forward and first-year Bucks player Mickey Kettleman. “But it was fun just to wear this jersey and get some experience.

“I played a couple (scrimmages this summer) with the (Michigan) Rebels. But other than that I have not played a real match since last (October) with Oakland University. I think for everyone it just felt great to be out there and play again.”

The Bucks are playing an eight-game exhibition schedule this summer, as their League II regular season and postseason was erased in the spring due to the COVID issues.

Midwest United is a team of mostly high school seniors and incoming college freshmen. United’s inexperience and collective rustiness showed, as the Bucks dominated play throughout and only allowed a couple of scoring chances in the second half.

Meanwhile, Flint City (formerly Michigan Bucks through 2018) outshot the Grand Rapids-based Midwest United by a commanding 17-7 edge, including 13-2 with shots on frame.

The Bucks, which has several players from Oakland University and Saginaw Valley State University, plus several college alumni from various schools suiting up, scorched the nets four times in the first half and tacked on four insurance tallies in the second half.

Five players netted goals for the Bucks, including two each from Kettleman, Dylan Borczak and James Decosemo. Tyler Channell and TJ Ifaturoti also tallied for the Bucks, who did not even have a single practice session with the players this summer.

Ketterman scored twice on four shots and was in fine form Sunday afternoon. The Portage Central and Kalamazoo Kingdom club product who was Division 1 All-State First Team in 2018 as a prep senior and is a sophomore-to-be at Oakland University, was one of several players who shined for the Bucks.

“I’m very fortunate enough to have coached Mikey for Oakland University (last fall). I had a season with Mikey,” said first-year Bucks head coach Andy Wagstaff. “When I was the head coach at Saginaw Valley (two years ago), I was recruiting him, so I know all about Mikey. He’s powerful, strong, (has a) winning mentality and just the kind of player you want from an attitude perspective. He’s got a chance — no doubt. He’s young, playing Division I college (soccer) and he’s good enough to be considered at this level, no doubt.”

It was Ketteman who scored what proved to be the eventual game-winner 21:45 into the match when he finished off a helper from Decosemo.

At the 32:33 mark it was Kettleman once again making it 2-0, this time cleaning up the rebound off a missed penalty kick attempt by Ayuk Tambe (Tusculum University).

Channell, a former standout at Troy Athens and Saginaw Valley State, pushed the lead to 3-0 at 40:55 when he finished off a breakaway feed from Borczak (Oakland). The Bucks cashed in once again just before the half when Borczak converted his own breakaway following a through pass from Rodrigo Colte at 44:35.

It was more of the same in the second half, as Flint City tallied four more goals.

Ifaturoti got into the scoring act at the 47:00 mark when he uncorked a 20-yard left-footed blast into the corner of the goal following a pass from Decosemo.

It was Desosemo the scored the next two goals, those coming off feeds from Hamid Berry (Oakland alum) at 51:50 and Ifaturoti at 78:30.

Borczak capped the scoring at 89:50, when he outraced his defender and ripped home a breakaway shot into the corner of the net seconds before the final whistle.

Finn Jurak (Oakland) picked up the shutout between the pipes for the Bucks, recording just a pair of second-half saves. Jurak is slated to be a redshirt sophomore in the spring OU, hailing from Canberra, Australia.

Wiith several new players on the roster after the Bucks captured their third North American title last August, Wagstaff pieced together a roster in recent weeks, blending together some experience with up-and-coming youth. The combination more than worked Sunday.

Using his multiple connections with Oakland, Saginaw Valley State and other in-state college programs and club organizations, Wagstaff’s roster boasted five players each from OU and SVSU, plus current Saginaw Valley head men’’s coach Louis Barrow, SVSU head women’s coach Michael O’Neill and SVSU assistant coaches Decosemo and Channell.

“When I put the squad together, (I was) trying to keep some balance of the experience and the age with the younger lads that are hungry to come in and prove themselves which is very important,” said Wagstaff, who has coached various levels of soccer in Michigan since the mid-1990s. “You just could go out there with the young lads and you’d get a lot of effort and energy and great attitude. But having some experienced older players in there, too, helps out a ton.”


The Bucks will play games against several other Michigan-based clubs. Upcoming contests include Carpathia FC (Aug. 30) and Inter Detroit FC (Sept. 6). Both of those games will be contested at 12 noon and on TV on CW46.

For more news and telecasts information, visit the Bucks website at

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