Fort Wayne vs FC Buffalo preview: Wolves keen to snap losing run

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FC Buffalo looks to end their four-game away stretch on a positive note as they face Fort Wayne for a 6:30 p.m. Saturday kickoff at Bishop John D’Arcy Stadium (Stream the game live here won Sports Engine Play).

Head coach Sean Hallas’ perfect three-game unbeaten stretch to begin the season has taken a sideways turn following Saturday’s 5-3 chaotic loss at Cleveland Force. Ander Castillo scored two goals, and second-half substitute Calum Newson scored late to inspire a possible comeback. Both strikers’ heroics weren’t enough for an FCB comeback. 

[ RELATED: FC Buffalo men on wrong end of eight-goal thriller at Cleveland Force ]

“Conceding five goals is not great,” said Hallas regarding the reasons behind his team’s loss. “I told the boys, whatever excuses players and coaching staff make after the game, if you concede five goals, you don’t deserve to win a football game. Some individual mistakes were made in the goals we conceded; communication was lacking throughout.” 

Hallas also highlighted what his coaching staff and players have worked on during Wednesday’s and Thursday’s training sessions. 

“It’s more on working on our shape on and off the ball,” said Hallas. “We are working on how we want to hurt them [Fort Wayne] when we are on the ball and how to prevent teams from hurting us when we are off the ball.” 

As mentioned before Saturday’s clash with Cleveland, Hallas still sees his resilient team capable of learning and improving as the season progresses. 

“We got to recover, move on, and go again. It is a new team, a new group, and our fourth game. These things [individual errors and losses] will happen. It’s not a long season, but we have multiple games left, and I am happy where we are at,” said Hallas. “I’d be more worried if we weren’t doing one or the other, like scoring goals, but I know this team can keep clean sheets.”

[ RELATED: FC Buffalo at Cleveland Force Preview ]

Led by head coach Mike Avery, Fort Wayne plays their fifth 2024 USL League Two match on Saturday. They sit top of the Valley Division undefeated after defeating Kings Hammer 2-1 last Sunday. 

Last season, the Wolves lost twice to Fort Wayne, who finished first in the Valley Division undefeated. The last time both teams met at D’Arcy Stadium, Fort Wayne won in decisive fashion. 

Hallas understands the enormous challenge of facing this talented, experienced Fort Wayne team. Still, he believes his boys are ready for what’s to come.  

“Fort Wayne have a quality team throughout,” said Hallas. “Midfield is high quality. The back four is high quality. These boys know these players. They’ve played with them, and there are ex-teammates in our squad. They understand what’s coming.” 

Against Fort Wayne, FCB fans should expect changes in the starting lineup, specifically for the return of Buffalo’s born-and-raised captain, Max Kwitchoff. 

“There are going to be changes. Some guys need a bit of fresher legs because of the travel we’ve done over the last week,” said Hallas. “I am excited to welcome him [Max Kwitchcoff] back into the squad. Max is a huge addition to the mentality of this team. He is a workhouse and is the voice at times. He was missing against Cleveland.” 

[ RELATED: Near enough perfection’ – FC Buffalo coach, players thrilled with home win]

But the Wolves will still depend on Castillo to lead the forward line and Dutch midfielder Timo Jansen, who leads the team in total assists with two

 The Basque Country-bred Castillo, still just 20 years old, has six goals and one assist this season and is steadily rising up the club’s all-time scoring list as he is six goals off the top of the charts. 

[ RELATED: 2024 Men’s Stats ]

“I have spent three summers here pursuing my dreams, and that [becoming FCB’s top-ever goal scorer] means something special and important to me,” said Castillo. “I want to break this record because I love Buffalo. I would love to be the number one in this city.” 

Following Thursday evening’s training session, Castillo commented on how he has achieved a remarkable career with FC Buffalo. 

“It comes from training every day and after all the games,” said Castillo. “My parents have always told me I must fight until the last minute. Having these teammates at FCB has also helped me improve over the past few years.” 

Despite receiving a controversial red card late into Saturday’s loss, the USL has approved FCB’s appeal of Castillo’s red card. 

The Wolves return home to face Cleveland Force for a 7:00 p.m. Tuesday kickoff at Robert Rich Sr. All-High Stadium. Single-game tickets are available here, while for a limited time, you can get a season ticket to all men’s and women’s regular season games for just $60