There’s a long history of soccer in Western New York that extends well past the Blizzard and Stallions, beyond the Rhinos and Flash. It goes back to first-and-second generation soccer families growing to love their new home during Sunday’s park games watching their neighbors play under banners like Polonia and Germania. Over the year, the game spread to kids and parents playing in clubs across the counties and cities, earning scholarships and pro contracts while making a lifetime of team memories.
FC Buffalo is here to bring all of those generations together under one banner.
Operating as members of the National Premier Soccer League, FC Buffalo formed in 2009 and began play in the 2010 season under the guidance of Jim Hesch, a former Buffalo Blizzard player and head coach at Canisius College. The team fared well, boasting two NPSL All-Stars in goalkeeper Dan Panaro (Kenmore) and Daniel Stevens (Syracuse). Buoyed by his play with the club, Stevens signed a professional contract in Finland with the Palloseura Kemi Kings.
In 2011, the club hired long-time Medaille boss Dan Krzyzanowicz, who coached the club for two seasons. While the team struggling to find its footing in the league table, the Blitzers turned out three professionals from its ranks: Krystian Witkowski was drafted in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft by the Philadelphia Union, Kendell McFayden signed a multi-year deal with the Rochester Rhinos and Mike Reidy was selected in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft by Sporting KC.
The first team’s most notable win is the 2011 Lord Bedlington Cup, set up by Rich Products in Buffalo. The Bedlington Terriers of England’s Northern League flew across the pond to face the Blitzers in front of a crowd of more than 3,700 at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium. In a regionally-televised event, FC Buffalo trumped the Terriers, 5-1. The BBC eventually released a documentary on the team’s visit. The team also has a notable loss on its record, losing on the road to the Brooklyn Italians in a qualifying match for the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup by a score of 1-0.
The team also earned some national dap when its supporters got behind the nickname “Blitzers” during the club’s nickname the team contest. Before the team even kicked a ball in training, two of our owners were on CNN talking with noted Buffalo pundit Wolf Blitzer.
While we could bore you with stories about how our ownership group’s genesis comes from high school teammates in the Northtowns of Buffalo, bar buddies who talked soccer from Lake Shore to St. Joe’s and new grooms kicking the ball around in the backyards of the Southtowns. But it doesn’t matter where we come from as much as where we’re going. We’ve received help from a great supporters group, The Situation Room, a terrific bunch of WNY soccer fans and terrific business partners like Rich Products, Mes Que, Batavia Downs Casino, Northtowns Orthopedics, Minuteman Press of Downtown Buffalo, Hertel Hardware & Plumbing, The Library, Admiral Sportswear and many more…
Soccer is the world’s beautiful game and it shines in Buffalo. We’ve seen the fervor and we’re building it here. Grab a hammer and head to the stadium.
For our city,
Joshua, Brent, Donny, Nick, Scott and Ray