By Harold Ford
Flint’s pre-professional soccer club, the Flint City Bucks, will play for the national championship of United States League Two (USL2) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at Kettering University’s Atwood Stadium in downtown Flint. The Bucks will host Reading United AC, a soccer club based in Reading, Pennsylvania,
The Bucks gained a berth in the championship match with a 1-0 semifinal victory over Golden State Force, a club based in Whittier, CA, last Saturday, July 27 before a home crowd exceeding 4,600 fans. Flint forward Yuri Farkas sent Flint into the final with a successful penalty kick in the 78th minute.
The club from Reading reached the final with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Tormenta FC in their semifinal match at the opponent’s home field in Statesboro, Georgia on Sunday, July 28. In the final moments of the second 15-minute extra time period, Reading’s Felipe Hideki booted a penalty kick past the Tormenta goalkeeper.
Reading is a community of nearly 90,000 located in the center of triangular piece of Pennsylvania cornered by Philadelphia, Allentown, and Harrisburg, the state’s capital city. About 600 highway miles separate Reading and Flint.
Flint, Reading survive 72 teams, 16-team playoff:
The clubs from Flint and Reading are the last two standing in the 2019 season from the 72-team USL2. Sixteen clubs entered the USL2 playoffs three weeks ago.
Along with Flint, the seven other clubs from the USL2 Central and Western Conferences to start the playoffs included representatives from: Colorado; Illinois; Iowa (two clubs); California (two clubs); and Alberta, Canada.
In addition to Reading, the seven clubs from the USL2 Eastern and Southern Conferences to start the playoffs included representatives from: North Carolina; Massachusetts; South Carolina; Texas; Georgia; Florida; and Maine.
Flint advanced to the semifinal with playoff wins over: the Des Moines Menace (Iowa), 4-3 in overtime; and Kaw Valley FC (Iowa), 4-2. FCB finished the USL2 regular season at 8-3-3 (wins, losses, ties).
Reading reached the semifinal with playoff wins over: GPS Portland Phoenix, 2-1; and Western Mass Pioneers, 1-0. Reading finished the USL2 regular season at 10-1-3.
FCB championship tradition:
The Flint City Bucks, formerly the Mid-Michigan Bucks and Michigan Bucks, is one of the most successful minor league soccer teams in the United States. During its 24-year history it has qualified for 11 U.S. Open Cups, won 11 divisional titles, and has three times been national champion.
Founded in 1995, the team began play as the Mid-Michigan Bucks in Saginaw, Mich. in 1996. Changing its name to Michigan Bucks, the team moved to Plymouth, Mich. in 2004, then to Pontiac, Mich. in 2008. The team transitioned to Flint City Bucks and began playing home games at Flint’s Atwood Stadium in May 2019.
“The community has been sensational all season long supporting this team, averaging over 2,000 fans a game for our previous 11 home events,” Flint City Bucks owner Dan Duggan told uslleaguetwo.com/news. “Our corporate support and the endorsement from the civic leaders has been second to none. Mix all that together with our supporters group, the River Rats, and you have one of the most electric environments in Michigan sports.”
“We would love to fill Atwood and blow people away,” added Flint City Bucks president Costa Papista. “The team can’t say enough about what this support means to them on the field as well, so we are calling on all of Flint to turn up for what is certainly going to be a historic night in Flint City history.”
More information on the game and tickets is available at flintcitybucks.com.
EVM Staff Writer Harold C. Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Banner Photo: Flint City Bucks fan club, the River Rats, parading to Atwood Stadium from Soggy Bottom Bar (Photo by Patsy Isenberg).