By Harold C. Ford
“The reigning champions Flint City Bucks have been eliminated out of this year’s United States League Two.” —Ami Rabiai, game announcer, CISN (Central Iowa Sports Network)
The hometown team was booted from the USL2 postseason playoffs by Des Moines 1-0, ending the Bucks’ chances for a repeat championship.
A booming shot from the right foot of the Des Moines Menace’s Sivert Haugli evaded Flint goalkeeper Isaac Walker and landed in the Flint City Bucks’ net at 52 minutes (52’) of the second half, eliminating the United States League Two (USL2) champions from the postseason playoffs. Haugli’s goal was the only score of the match played July 18 at Valley Stadium in Des Moines.
The Bucks entered the playoffs as the defending USL2 champions after a 1-0 extra time win over Reading United AC (PA) at Flint’s Atwood Stadium on Aug. 3, 2019. There was no league play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Des Moines entered the playoffs as the top-ranked team in the USL2 Central Conference. Flint was seeded number five. Des Moines finished the regular season with a record of 11-1-0 (wins-losses-ties) in the Heartland Division of the Central Conference.
Flint’s regular season concluded at 9-3-2 in the Great Lakes Division of the Central Conference.
Des Moines advanced to the semifinal match after winning its quarterfinal contest, 5-0, against Texas United from the Mid South Division of the Central Conference. The Bucks advanced with a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Great Lakes Division rival Chicago FC (Football Club) United.
Des Moines will now go to the Central Conference championship match against Kalamazoo FC which prevailed against Mississippi Brilla FC on penalty kicks (4-1) after the clubs were tied at the end of regulation and two extra periods.
Lack of scoring dooms Flint’s chances of advancing
An inability to create solid scoring opportunities in the match against Des Moines doomed Flint’s chances of advancing in postseason play, The team achieved only one shot on goal and one corner kick for the Flint side (club) in 90 minutes of play.
Conversely, Des Moines registered three shots on goal and two corner kicks. And in the 29th minute of the first half, Des Moines’ Rechaun Walkes hit the left post of the Bucks’ goal narrowly missing a chance to give the Menace an early lead. Another shot by a Menace player went just wide right of the Flint goal.
A paucity of goalscoring in the first half of the Bucks’ 2021 regular season (seven games) resulted in a mediocre 3-2-2 record at the halfway mark. The Flint club scored only nine goals in its first seven matches.
The Bucks solved the offensive drought in its last seven matches outscoring opponents 26-5 while posting a record of 6-0-1.
Five friendly matches — matches that don’t officially count in league play — remain for the Flint football (soccer) club in the 2021 season:
- July 24, vs. Rebels FC, 7:30 p.m.
- July 14, vs. Inter Detroit FC, 7:30 p.m.
- August 21, Detroit United FC, 7:30 p.m.
- September 11, Rebels FC, 7:30 p.m.
- September 25, Detroit Union, 7:30 p.m.
Flint’s home matches are played at Atwood Stadium, 701 University Ave., Flint, MI.
EVM Sports reporter Harold Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.