The Flint City Bucks captured their third consecutive Hank Steinbrecher Cup over USL League Two rivals, Chicago United FC, with a convincing 3-0 win at the Bavarian Soccer Club Complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Steinbrecher Cup pits the four champions of the different amateur leagues across America each year, including USL League Two and the NPSL. The Bucks dominated Chicago from the opening whistle and scored all three goals in the first half of the championship match.
Jared Timmer was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament with another brilliant performance and set up Giuseppe Barone in the 16th minute at the top of the eighteen-yard box. Barone ripped a laser that beat Chicago goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia for a 1-0 lead.
The Bucks continued to press Chicago with great pressure from Timmer, Barone and flank players Kevin Buca and Milo Josef. Timmer beat Mwembia to a loose ball in the box and the aggressive keeper came through the back of Timmer for a Bucks penalty kick. Barone tried to chip the keeper with his penalty but sent his effort over the bar and the score remained 1-0.
Just a few minutes later the Bucks scored the goal of the tournament when Tanguy Guerineau found himself trapped along the sideline and somehow back heeled a pass through the legs of a Chicago defender and hit Josef in stride down the right flank. Josef sent a cross into the middle and was met with the right foot of Brayden McNitt, who rifled home a long-distance strike for the 2-0 lead.
In the 38th minute after more constant pressure, Buca got in close and after his first shot was saved by Mwambia, he buried his own rebound and the defending Cup champs had a commanding 3-0 lead going to the half time break.
The Bucks didn’t let up in the second half and outworked Chicago for the balance of the game and had all kinds of chances but couldn’t increase the lead. Andrew Pannenberg was not called on often, but did make two great saves on the night, one in each half, to preserve the clean sheet.
Bucks head coach Demir Muftari was thrilled with the outcome but more impressed with the performance of his entire team. “We battled like warriors this weekend; every man in the locker room. It was a long week on the road which started with a setback in Chicago on Tuesday (referring to a 5-0 loss). It is not very often you get to avenge a bad loss like that, especially five days later. The boys wanted to send a message that the result on Tuesday is not who we are. I think everyone got the message after this weekend. We learned a ton about the heart of this team and discovered a few new twists that we can use for the balance of our USL season. We really wanted to win this championship for the entire organization so all in all, it was a good week.”
The three-peat of the USASA national championship ensures that the Bucks will represent again in the 2020 Hank Steinbrecher Cup, but also brought with it some more good news. Tournament Director Duncan Riddle and tournament namesake Hank Steinbrecher confirmed that the Bucks will host the 2020 tournament in Flint next May as the team goes for a record fourth title in a row.
Bucks Chairman Dan Duggan was appreciative of the news and confirmed the Bucks will in fact host next year. “From day one since moving to Flint we have made it clear that we want to bring national championships to the city. We are proud to be able to bring home this trophy and will celebrate with our fans at our next home game on Wednesday, June 12. I am even more excited that Kettering’s Atwood Stadium will be the host next year so our fans will see the nations’ top four teams compete up close and personal. We have won this tournament in Cleveland, Hartford and Milwaukee. It would be wonderful to finally win one at home. We appreciate the committee making that decision now so we can start putting the wheels in motion for next year.”
The championship is the Bucks record 11th overall national title; including eight regular season and postseason USL titles in the team’s 24-year existence. The focus now changes back to USL League Two action with back to back road games in Charleston, West Virginia on Friday and Saturday night.
Article courtesy of www.flintcitybucks.com