Michigan Bucks News Release -- www.buckssoccer.com
Friday, May 20, 2011
PONTIAC, Mich. -- Michigan Bucks fans turning up to see the 2011 version of the high powered Premier Development League (PDL) club will see a mix of familiar faces and new players. The team represents eight nationalities and sixteen different colleges and universities around the country. Michigan formally announced its initial roster for the season on Friday. The team will travel to Louisville, Ky. on Saturday to open their 16th season against the expansion River City Rovers.
The Bucks will be defending their Great Lakes Division Title with 12 returning players as the foundation for the team. Most fans are used to seeing the team comprised of mainly local talent from Michigan State, Oakland and Michigan with several out of state college All- Americans added. This year will be quite different. In addition to the three local schools, players have come to play for the Bucks representing Dartmouth, Alabama- Birmingham, Yale, Oklahoma Baptist, Akron, Southern Poly Tech, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Lees-McRae, Central Florida, Georgetown, Butler and Marshall. This year's roster will also look a bit like a United Nations meeting with players representing the United States, Canada, Kenya, South Africa, Holland, Brazil, England, Trinidad and New Zealand.
Returning again this year for his ninth PDL season is striker Kenny Uzoigwe, who with his next goal will become the all time leading goal scorer in PDL history. Joining the 32-year-old striker are Simon Omekanda (Rochester Hills, Mich.), Stefan St. Louis (Trinidad), Tommy Catalano (Oakland), Alex Morisette (Shelby Twp, Mich.), Chad Barson (Akron), Colin and Stew Givens (Troy), Babayele Sodade (UAB), Victor Otieno (Detroit Mercy) and goal keepers Mitch Hildebrandt (Oakland) and Adam Grinwas (Michigan). Rejoining the team are Sebby Harris (Oxford, Mich.) and Tony Walls (W-GB). Harris just returned from playing in England for Northampton Town where he signed following the Bucks 2009 season.
Joining the team for the first time are a slew of NAIA All-Americans looking to help the Bucks get back to the U.S. Open Cup and the National Final Four this season. Striker Luke Holmes (Akron) was one of the top NAIA players in the country last year and transferred to Akron where he will join Barson in defending their NCAA Division I title this fall. Last year Holmes finished tied for second in the PDL in scoring for FC London (Uzoigwe finished fourth). Oklahoma Baptist sends three Brazilians to Pontiac this year in Victor Costa, Caio Franca and Felipe Souza.
Adding some much needed brain-power to the line up are first year players Peter Jacobson (Yale), Joey Dillon (Georgetown) and Lucky Mkosana (Dartmouth). Jacobson and Dillon are MYSYA players from Ann Arbor and Rochester Hills, respectively.
Director of Coaching Gary Parsons is pleased with this year's recruiting class and looks forward to a high scoring team that will entertain the local fans.
"I think we worked harder recruiting this year than in any past year and I am happy with the versatility we came up with," Parson said. "We have some of the top strikers in the PDL here and we have solid midfielders and defenders to back them up. If the coaching staff here can do its job in putting the right eleven players on the field at the right time, we should be very successful. Past years have seen the Bucks rely more on a core foundation from UM, MSU and Oakland. While we still have their top players, we felt the need to sign some of the truly impact players we saw between August and December watching college games."
Not only has Parsons beefed up the squad, but he went to work in the off-season to add to his already competent coaching staff. Returning to join Parsons this year are longtime Bucks coach Dan Fitzgerald as well as last year's goalkeeper coach Mark Zathey (Michigan Rush). Replacing assistant Andy Wagstaff, who left to join Steve Burns at the University of Michigan are soccer legend Steve Seargeant as well as Gronthik Chatterjee (Waza), Demir Muftari (Vardar) and former Bucks player Scott Duhl (Wolves). Seargeant is well known to the Michigan soccer community having worked with Parsons at Oakland University for 25 years after completing his professional career with the Detroit Express in the old NASL.
The Bucks open the season this weekend with games in Louisville on Saturday night and in Cincinnati on Monday night. Both games serve as PDL league games and U.S. Open Cup qualifying matches. The team then returns to Michigan to open the 2011 home season on Saturday, May 28 against the Indiana Invaders at the Canton Cup Soccer Tournament (12 p.m. kickoff). The final game of U.S. Open Cup qualifying will take place on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) when the Bucks host Chicago Fire Premier at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in what may become the deciding game as to who gets the lone coveted U.S. Open Cup spot from the Great Lakes Division.
Tickets for the Memorial Day showdown are $10 Adult (16 and over) and $7 Youth (5 and under free) the day of the game. All tickets are discounted to $5 by taking advantage of the Bucks presale. Discounted tickets can be purchased at Ultimate Soccer Arenas, through the Bucks booth at the Canton Cup tournament or on line by visiting the Bucks web site at www.buckssoccer.com and clicking on the TICKETS link.