The main entrance of the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich., the home of the PDL’s Michigan Bucks.
The Michigan Bucks skated by the NASL’s Indy Eleven, 1-0, in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup clash behind some stellar defense and a strike from University of Michigan star Francis Atuahene.
With the win, the Bucks earn the club’s 10th upset of a professional opponent, the most of any amateur team in the Modern Era (1995-present).
The second-round game started slowly, but it was broken open in the 11th when Atuahene seemed to have a clear path to the net after a gorgeous long ball. However, he ran into a stumbling Anthony Manning, and the ball bounced to Indy keeper Keith Cardona.
Former Michigan player David Goldsmith almost put his new team ahead in the 16th with a right-footed shot from the right wing, but it rattled off the post. The rebound was saved by Bucks keeper Drew Shepherd.
In the 22nd minute, Michigan’s Andre Landell flicked a cross into the box, but Indy’s Cardona got a hand on the ball to keep Grant Stoneman from heading it into the net
The Eleven almost took the lead behind a gorgeous curling ball from wing midfielder Justin Plumhoff, but his shot banged off the crossbar and back into play.
Michigan launched a counterattack, which ended with right back Jordan Snell feeding a gorgeous through ball to Atuahene, who calmly slotted a ball past Cardona to give the Bucks a 1-0 lead.
“The goal by Francis helped a lot.” Michigan coach Demir Muftari said with a smile. “It allowed us to keep with the flow of the game, and kind of press a little more.”
Indy Eleven pressed the rest of match with long shots. Current NASL leading scorer Justin Braun had a nice turn in the box, but his shot was turned away.
The Bucks were able to hold onto their slim lead, before celebrating before a crowd of at least 400 fans.
With the win, the Bucks improve to 15-11-2 (0-2 PKs) all-time in US Open Cup play, by far the most wins of any amateur team in the Modern Era. In fact, by defeating Indy Eleven, they improve their record against Division 2 pro teams to 4-1-0. They haven’t lost to a Division 2 team since a 3-2 extra time loss to the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1997.
Another milestone that was set was the Bucks earning a fourth clean sheet against a pro team. Only one amateur team in the country have more shutouts against pro teams (Ocean City Nor’easters of the PDL have six).
The win sends the Bucks to Round 3 where they will host Saint Louis FC of the USL on May 31.