KW United faced what was likely their greatest challenge of the season this past weekend when they traveled to Pontiac, Michigan to face off against the Bucks. The lone Canadian PDL team in the Great Lakes Division went into the game still dealing with border difficulties; not all of their roster had arrived yet, and some who had arrived have not received approval and work visas to actually play. This meant that KW United was short on subs in a league that relies on a high turnover of players during the game (PDL allows 6 substitutions/game to allow for playing time for as many players as possible). While Michigan had a full roster that has already been training together and has even played a competitive game in the US Open Cup; KW United had to rely on their four subs and the half-week of training they had received.
Despite these difficulties, KW United fought hard and did not allow the Bucks to steamroll over them. Justin Springer was a force to be reckoned with on the KW backline, directing traffic and working hard to keep the ball out of dangerous territory. Despite some close calls, the game reached half with no goals scored. Austin Ricci, who used to play for KW, caused some havoc against his old team; eventually earning a penalty kick in the second half which was taken by Ivo Cerda. As Grand River Union, KW’s travelling supporters, sang “when the ball hits your head and your up in row zed that’s the Bucks”, Cerda’s shot went high-well over the arms of the untroubled KW keeper Dayne St. Clair.
The second half began with a few good chances by KW United; they were able to stretch the Bucks and create some running space. Sameer Fathazada was particularly proficient on the ball, creating some great chances through quick thinking and fast passing. Ken Krolicki also demonstrated agility on the ball, but struggled with completing passes to his teammates. Unfortunately for the young KW team; miscommunication led to a scoring opportunity in the 78th minute for the Bucks. While the linesman, KW United players, and supporters all were confident that Justin Springer’s adept clearance happened before the ball crossed the line; the Bucks’ celebration swayed the ref who overruled his linesman and deemed the play to be a goal. This took a toll on the United players, who were already struggling to continue their press against a team with a full roster. The Bucks would score again in the 83rd minute; Ricci and Cerda working together to earn Ricci his first goal of the season, putting an end to KW United’s hopes of coming back from the one-goal deficit. Final score: 2-0.
GRU Man of the Match: Sameer Fathazada
KW United Lineup:
- Donald Tomlinson (Michael Halapir 82 m.)
- Wesley Cain (Jon Fraser 68 m.)
- Munir Saleh
- Sameer Fathazada (Mohamad Aborig 85 m.)
- Liam Callahan
- Ken Krolicki
- Justin Springer
- Tomasz Skublak (Johannes Pieles 45 m)
- Kamal Miller
- Adam Polakiewicz
- Dayne St. Clair (Keeper)