By Harold Ford
The Flint City Bucks rallied in the last one-third of the regular season with four straight wins to earn a spot in the United States League Two (USL2) post-season playoffs. The Bucks downed Oakland County FC (Football Club) 4-0 on Saturday, July 10 to secure a playoff spot and a chance to defend their 2019 USL2 national championship.
The Bucks finished the regular season with a record of 9-3-2 (wins-losses-ties) and 29 points. Wins are worth three points; ties worth one point; losses no points. Standings are determined by points.
The Bucks finished in second place in the nine-club Great Lakes Division of the Central Conference behind Kalamazoo FC (31 points) and ahead of Cincinnati Kings Hammer (28 points). The top three Great Lakes Division teams advance to the USL2 2021 playoffs.
USL2 announced an expanded playoff structure June 29 for the 2021 season. The playoffs will include 26 teams for the first time in league history. Playoffs will begin during the third week of July.
2021 Playoff Bracket for United States League TwoL: (Flint City Bucks are members of the Central Conference)
The Bucks are the defending USL2 champions. They secured their national championship with an exciting 1-0 victory over Reading (PA) United FC on Aug. 3, 2019 in front of 7,200 fans at Flint’s Atwood Stadium. Due to the COVID pandemic, the 2020 season was a wash except for a handful of friendlies (matches that don’t count in league standings).
The Bucks marched to the 2021 USL2 playoffs with four straight wins at the end of the 2021 regular season: 2-1 over the South Bend Lions; a 4-1 win against Oakland County FC; a 5-1 besting of Toledo Villa FC; and a 4-0 victory against Oakland County FC.
The Bucks entered their last four matches with a mediocre 5-3-2 record and were hardly assured a spot in the playoffs. In its last seven matches, the Bucks went 6-1-0.
Jensen stars in win over Oakland County FC
Noah Jensen figured in all four goals by Flint in its final regular season game win over Oakland County FC. Jensen delivered assists to all four of the Bucks’ goal-scorers: Amadou Cisse at 19 minutes (19’); Abdelrahman Kuku at 22’; Jake Erlandson at 45+1’ (extra time added at the end of a half to make up for stoppages); Charlie Sharp at 65’. Kuku (two) and Alan Kehoe (one) also picked up assists.
Goalkeepers Isaac Walker, who played 70 minutes, and Jacob Nunner shared the shutout win.
In post-game comments, Bucks’ coach Andy Wagstaff credited Jensen with “incredible vision and…technique.” Jensen is currently listed as one of the USL2’s “Top 20 Prospects.”
In addition to Jensen, Bucks’ management has assembled some impressive talent as the club prepares to defend its USL2 title. Statistical leaders include goals leaders: Cisse (5 goals); Jacob Erlandson (5); and Charlie Sharp (3). Assists leaders are Matthew Fearnley (5); Dylan Borczak (4); and Harvey Slade (4).
Overall, the Bucks have scored 35 goals while opponents put 10 scores into the Flint net. The Bucks were elevated into the 14th spot in the USL2’s most recent “Power Rankings” of clubs. USL2 is currently comprised of 75 clubs spread over 11 divisions and four conferences.
Schedule at season’s end
USL2 has yet to announce the brackets and the schedules for the postseason tourney that begins later this month. Earlier in the season, the Bucks announced three friendlies following the USL2 tournament on Aug. 14 and 21 and Sept, 11. Fans should check the Bucks’ website for the latest information about schedule (www.flintcitybucks.com).
EVM Sports Beat reporter Harold Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.