Photo by RJZ Photography

Match-worn jerseys on sale/Tee-shirts half-off

Friday begins the season with 91 Division I men’s soccer matches, so it’s fair to put a bow on our eighth season this week.

We look forward before looking back, wishing only the best to our players from the 2017 National Premier Soccer League campaign. Perhaps more than any other season, we’re excited to see some of these names our supporters grew to love gain even more regional and national acclaim at their schools. Here’s where you can see them this Fall.

Next we want to thank our coaching staff. When longtime coach Brendan Murphy accepted a well-earned opportunity with the Rochester Rhinos in late January, we had to assemble a staff and almost an entire team in a very short period of time. To fill the shoes of our previous staff was no easy task.

We were very fortunate to find Frank Butcher as manager and both Casey Derkacz and John Grabowski to lead training sessions and help Frank run the side. They did an incredible job in keeping with Coach Murphy’s established tradition of FCB coaches understanding their responsibilities to our supporters.

We didn’t meet our goal of a playoff berth, but it’s not hard to find success in this team. We finished one win shy of a division title and ran our unbeaten streak in the Erie County Derby to five matches. FCB scored a division-best 22 goals despite losing all-time leading scorer Kendell McFayden to a broken hand in the first match, another striker before the season began, and not having international clearances for Julien Dragomir and Akean Shackleford, who would account for 11 combined goals, at the start of the season (Let’s not even talk about the preseason injuries in the midfield, and welcome late additions which would prove crucial to our 4-1-1 finish).

Match-worn jerseys on sale/Tee-shirts half-off

We had a terrific corps of keepers, and our defenders and midfielders who slid into different positions and formations with no complaints. The mood around the players was almost always good, and there’s little doubt we’ll remember this group for a long time. In fact, we’re hopeful to bring many key members back to town next summer.

Our supporters, as always, were our inspiration. Whether it be Tifo, chants, songs, post-match parties or what had to be the most consistent traveling bunch yet, your presence makes sure that if our players didn’t believe our pitch that what they do matters to our community, they get the picture from the moment they walk out to the field for a match.

We’ve already read a wealth of replies to our post-season survey — if you haven’t, please check that out here — and we’d like to let you know we’ve learned a lot. We are committed to boasting the busiest and longest schedule yet come next season, from preseason into postseason. We came close to boasting a few Fall matches this year, and believe with more time to plan we can implement something in that vein in 2018.

So many people helped us make this season work, and it’s tempting to name names. Our trainer Lauren Duft does fantastic work, and referee liaison/all-around hero Andy Evenhouse is invaluable. And a special shout to the BPS stadium workers at Robert Rich Sr. All-High Stadium, who are always incredible to us but especially so when a power outage cost the venue and most of the neighborhood its juice midway through our win over Fort Pitt.

Our staff of assistants and interns was simply phenomenal and under-praised. To Ryan Schupp, Alex Beilman, Colleen Stelley, Matt Birt, Peter Petruzzo, Matt Evenden, Tim Allaire, Nate Holler and crew, we’re eternally grateful. To anyone who’d like to help in the future, don’t hesitate to email FCB co-owner Nick Mendola: nick@fcbuffalo.org.

We’d like to close by asking you to scroll just a bit lower and click on the links to our corporate partners. Patronize them, and fire them messages to let them know that their support of us matters to you. Moreover, if you’d like to help or know of a business who wants to prop up Buffalo soccer while getting their brand in front of faithful eyes, have them email nick@fcbuffalo.org as well.

FC Buffalo is confident that soccer in our area is just hitting its stride. For now, take advantage of our 2017 season ticket prices by locking in your rate for 2018. Next season’s bundles will be released later this Fall, and you can apply that discount toward anything we release.