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A New Era: Oakland County FC 2017 Season Preview

Written by: Andrew Morgan

Our New Home

When the 2017 Premier League of America (PLA) Season kicks off on Saturday, one of the biggest storylines will be the inaugural match in our new home at Royal Oak High School.  After spending the past two seasons at Stoney Creek HS in Rochester Hills, the move marks a new era for the Purple and Gold.  With this move comes exciting new opportunities for the club, including the hopes of a playoff run for the upcoming season.

League Overview

The Premier League of America will field a total of 12 clubs this season with the additions of expansion sides Toledo Villa FC (OH), Muskegon Risers (MI), and Elgin Pumas (IL).  Oakland County FC will compete in the East Division against Carpathia FC (MI), Ole SC, Muskegon Risers (MI), RWB Adria (IL), and Toledo Villa FC (OH).  After finishing 4th in the East last season, OCFC hopes to improve their standing and finish top two for entry into the playoffs and a chance at the PLA Championship.  

Roster Preview

Part of the optimism looking ahead at the season is the amount of familiar faces that will be apart of the team as the club takes the field against Ole SC this Saturday. In a semi-pro league, roster turnover from year to year is one of the largest challenges to overcome on the pitch. Returning players is extremely important to the chemistry of the team during matches, and can be the difference in matches throughout the season.  The 2017 roster features plenty of returning production and PLA experience.  Among the returnees are Midfielder Shawn Sloan, the team leader in goals (5), last season, as well as Forward Nwokoye Chukwudi coming off of a 4 goal, 3 assist season in 2016. Also contributing to the offensive fire power are the other returning anchors of the Midfield Joe Beshara and Mario Morana. In addition to the experience in the attack, Defenders Ryan Messick and Jamie Foxwell bring plenty of PLA starting experience to the backline.  Exciting newcomers for the upcoming season include Midfielder Hamid Barry from Oakland University, Forward Alex Serwatka, who recently completed his Senior season with the Golden Grizzlies and Defender Jeremy Stoychoff, who joined the Purple and Gold for the US Open Cup Qualifying victory over Ann Arbor FC last fall.  With the influx of newly signed talent, combined with the returning production from the 2016 squad, the prospects for the 2017 season are looking very bright.
Along with new additions to the roster, Nicolino Morana will take over the reigns as Head Coach and will be joined by new Assistant Coach Mathius Johnson, who is also the current the Head Coach of the Men’s Soccer program at Marygrove College in Detroit.

The full roster list for 2017 is as follows (returning players are listed in bold):
Goalkeepers   Ludin Gonzales (Upper Iowa), Cary Wilson (Tiffin), Zach Walker (Oakland)
Defenders   Talal Hamodi (Marygrove), Ryan Messick (Anderson), Connor Ballantyne (Oakland), Brent Schmid (Northwood), Jeremy Stoychoff (Detroit Mercy), Jeff Okerstrom (Marygrove), Jamie Foxwell (Liberty), Ian Walker (Schoolcraft), Jason Leslie (Detroit Mercy)
Midfielders –  Shawn Sloan (Columbus Crew), Joe Beshara (Rochester College), Mario Morana (Marygrove), Javier Steinwascher (Indianapolis), Hamid Barry (Oakland), Kaveon Dux (Oakland), Travis Harrington (Oakland), Charlie Miles (SW Florida Adrenaline), Saaed Tawill (Marygrove), Julian Birge (Alma), Kevin Pinkos (Detroit Mercy), Mayowa Olefeku (Northwood), Azaad Liadi (SVSU), Kevin Lencioni (Washington & Lee), Jonathan Barnes (Finlandia)
Forwards  Alex Serwatka (Oakland), Chukwudi Nwokoye (Kachi FC), Abdoulie Jallow (Marygrove), August Hunter (Schoolcraft), Brendan Woodfull (Oakland)

 

 

Notable Matches

Oakland County FC v. RWB Adria  6/18 @ Royal Oak High School

Since joining the Premier League of America, OCFC is 0-3-1 all time against RWB Adria. Adria is a consistently tough team to play against, and is coming off of a season where they were runners up to the Milwaukee Bavarians in the PLA Championship.  The misfortune of the first two seasons against Adria will hopefully be reversed, as the two sides play in back to back match weeks in June, with the home fixture being June 18th with a 5:00pm kickoff.

Oakland County FC v. FC Carpathia  7/22 @ Royal Oak High School

Local rivals Carpathia FC come to town on July 22nd (7:30pm kickoff), and the Purple and Gold will have extra fuel on the fire of this rivalry after losing both matches to Carpathia last year at the hands of stoppage time goals.  

Oakland County FC v. West Chester United SC (PA)  8/12 @ Royal Oak High School

Oakland County FC welcomes National Premier Soccer League Keystone Conference side West Chester United SC to Royal Oak.  The friendly match will be a fantastic finale for the 2017 season, against a club from different region from the Premier League of America sides. Additional details about this match will be released soon.  

UPCOMING MATCH: Oakland County FC v. Ole SC 5/6 @ Royal Oak High School

Coming off of a sweep against Ole SC last season, Oakland County FC will open the season against the Grand Rapids, MI based club.  The match provides an exciting beginning to the Royal Oak era for OCFC, and the match will kick off at 7:30
The full 2017 Season Schedule as well as Season and Single Match Tickets are available online now and can be purchased HERE.