Michigan Bucks of the PDL hosted the USASA’s RWB Adria (Illinois) at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich. Photo: Kelly Haapala
Almost like a week before, Red, White, Blue Adria came to Michigan and played 120 minutes, and won. Except this time, they didn’t need Igor Dimov in the penalty kick shootout.
After defeating the NPSL’s Detroit City FC a week ago, RWB Adria returned to Metro Detroit and got a timely goal from Carlos Muños in the first overtime, and were able to hold on for a 1-0 win over the PDL’s Michigan Bucks.
It was the second year in a row that the Bucks have lost their opening round game, something rare for the team that has more wins and upsets than any amateur team in the country. For RWB, it was their second Open Cup win in a row, which is impressive considering they entered the tournament winless since 1995.
“We had a scout for the Bucks,” said RWB Adria general manager Ante Loncar. “We knew they were faster than us, and that their centerbacks were really good, so we hoped to attack them on the flanks to cause some trouble before coming back to the middle.”
The game was just as physical as last week’s match against Detroit City with the Bucks Stew Givens suffering a foul from behind shortly after the opening whistle.
The Bucks almost had a chance to go up early, but forward Anthony Grant was a hair too late getting in front of an Adria back pass in the 2nd minute. The first shot of the game came in the 5th minute as RWB defender Alex Rickett sent an outside shot toward the Bucks stalwart goalkeeper, Adam Grinwis.
Photo: Kelly Haapala
Literally two minutes later, Adria was on the attack again. Vlad Baciu, the reigning TheCup.us Player of the Round, made his way in front of the net, but it took a desperation tackle by Ryan Keener to stop the big Romanian from adding to his tournament tally.
The Bucks first shot didn’t come until the 13th minute, when Givens, a throw-in specialist, looped a long throw onto the dreaded head of Gerald Ben, who headed the ball wide of the target. The entire half was defined by rough play and missed chances, as Baciu and and Bucks winger Anthony Grant traded missed opportunities. The most notable came in the 24th minute, when Adria defender Johnny Morris launched a hard shot at Grinwis, but the Bucks keeper was up for the challenge. Baciu was also there for the rebound but Grinwis parried that as well.
Adria had an indirect freekick in the Bucks penalty area as a Michigan defender played the ball while on the ground. The ensuing play saw Taylor Bond touch the ball to Rickett, who tapped it right back before Bond blasted it off of a defender.
In the 32nd minute, Grant broke free of the Adria defense, but must have mistimed how much time he had on the ball, because he promptly fired a missile off the glass about 20 feet high of the net. Baciu and Grinwis got well-acquainted again, as the University of Michigan goalie came out of his net to save a vicious shot from Baciu with his stomach.
In the second half, Grinwis was under assault again, as the RWB captain Semir Mesanovic blasted a shot off of Grinwis’ gloves. The ball fell to Baciu who, again, headed it on net, only to be saved by Grinwis, again.
Near the end of regulation, RWB’s Antonio Aguliar began to terrorize the right side of Michigan’s defense with sweeping runs down the field or in the 75th minute, when he fired a shot that just whistled wide of the post.
Michigan’s best chance of the game came in the 77th minute, when midfielder Ken Tribbett received a pass, made an impressive fake, before sliding a shot toward goal. It was saved by the 36-year-old Dimov.
The first booking of the match came in the 89th minute to Alex Rickett on an awful challenge on Brad Ruhaak from the side, which resulted in Ruhaak limping around the field for a minute until full time was called.
The first extra time period started with a bang, as Leljak slid on the ground in the 93rd minute, and found Muños just outside the box on the left side.
“Pretty much, Admir gave me the ball on top, and as soon as I took one touch, I had two defenders on me,” Muños recalled after the game. “They came at me, I made one move, they gave me enough room to take a shot, and luckily it went in.”
From that point forward, the Bucks would press for a goal. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t their night, as RWB parked the bus and countered every Bucks attacking run.
“It was a very physical game.” Muños continued. “Our team played awesome. They fought for every ball. Anyone can score a goal when you do that.”
Loncar agreed: “The Michigan Bucks are one of the premier clubs in the PDL, and in all of [amateur] soccer. They are elite, so we knew it would be tough,” said Loncar. “We knew we had to defend, as we’re still older than them,” he said with a laugh.
RWB seemed just as happy to win this match as they were to hear who their next opponents will be. They will be given a revenge match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds after getting word that the Riverhounds disposed of the New York Red Bulls U23s, 3-1.
“We’re very excited for this match-up. They eliminated us on penalty kicks last year,” grinned Loncar. “I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but I like the way we are playing currently. We were missing two players to red cards tonight. So we’ll be looking a lot different come next Wednesday.”