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Know your NPSL opponents: Great Lakes East Conference

The months of January, February and March are the slowest of the local soccer calendar. College teams enter their spring seasons, FC Buffalo slowly builds its roster and the Buffalo District Soccer League's divisions are established, but one of the first signs of life is the NPSL schedule release.

[See FC Buffalo's 2016 season schedule here]

If you're a member (or an aspiring member) of FC Buffalo's supporters group, The Situation Room, there's no offseason for you, and you can commence planning your road trips. The group loves to poke and prod Erie, banter with Detroit City FC and craft "Z" jokes at the expensive of the expansion River DogZ.

But with the National Premier Soccer League returning to its 2014 setup -- two divisions separated geographically rather than the single table of 2015 -- it's worth taking the time to stay current. The biggest change? The departure of the Fort Pitt Regiment, who won the conference in 2014. Also, the league has unveiled a redesigned website.

Below are the six teams in the NPSL Midwest Region's Great Lakes East Conference:

FC Buffalo (2015 record: 6 wins, 2 losses, 4 draws -- 22 points; 5th place, no postseason)

Home stadium: Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium (behind Bennett High School)

Head coach: Brendan Murphy (enters fourth season; coaches D'Youville College)

Social media: Facebook and Twitter

Active alums in pros: Dan Stevens (Finland) and Waleed Cassis (NASL, Ottawa)

2015 standouts: Ngwese Ebangwese, Adam Lauko, Kendell McFayden, Brett Larocque, Andrew Ferguson

2016 signings: Read them here

Primary supporters group: The Situation Room (follow on Twitter)

Notes: FC Buffalo completed two open tryouts and will announce further signings soon.

FC Buffalo supporters group The Situation Room cheers on the Wolves against Erie on June 7, 2015. (Erica Malinowski/Special to The News)

FC Buffalo supporters group The Situation Room cheers on the Wolves against Erie on June 7, 2015. (Erica Malinowski/Special to The News)

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Indy Eleven NPSL (2015 record: 7 wins, 2 losses, 3 draws -- 24 points; 4th place, won the region)

Home stadium: Park Tudor High School, Indianapolis, Ind.

Head coach: John Simmonds (enters third season)

Social media: Facebook and Twitter

Active alums in pros: Vincent Mitchell (Butler & Chicago Fire draft pick)

2015 standouts: Nago Mbengue, Mitchell, Cody Schweitzer, Bennett Kim

Primary supporters group: Brickyard Battalion, shared with the NASL side (BYB on Twitter & Facebook)

Notes: Formerly Indiana Fire before rebranding and affiliation change from MLS' Chicago Fire to NASL's Indy Eleven

Michael Gallulo, left, of the Indiana Fire vies for a loose ball with Mike Derezic of AFC Cleveland (in white). (Brent Durken/AFC Cleveland)

Michael Gallulo, left, of the Indiana Fire vies for a loose ball with Mike Derezic of AFC Cleveland (in white). (Brent Durken/AFC Cleveland)

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FC Indiana (2015 record: 2 wins, 3 ties, 7 losses -- 9 points; 11th place, missed playoffs)

Home stadium: Legacy Sports Club Soccer Complex - Lafayette, Ind.

Head coach: Erik Castro (enters second season)

Social media: Facebook and Twitter

Active alums in pros:

Rudy Baldetti - ADR Jicaral (Costa Rica)

Rogelio Juarez Robinson - North East Stars FC (Trinidad & Tobago)

Christopher Bugay - SV SAAR 05 (Germany)

Alexander Clarke - Singleton Strikers FC (Australia)

Brendan Allen - FC 08 Homburg (Germany)

2015 standouts: Andrew Higgins, Ryan Forde, Ricardo Ruiz, Alex Sangsuwangul

2016 signings, as of Jan. 26: News and updates of signings via The Lion's Den

Primary supporters group: The Lion's Den

Notes: You can see Facebook video of FC Indiana's Premier Arena Soccer League matches, via The Lion's Den.

FC Indiana's XI before a match against the Minnesota TwinStars in 2015. (via FC Indiana)

FC Indiana's XI before a match against the Minnesota TwinStars in 2015. (via FC Indiana)

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AFC Cleveland (2015 record: 8 wins, 2 ties, 2 losses -- 26 points; 3rd place, lost in Midwest final)

Home stadium: Rocky River High School, Cleveland, Ohio

Head coach: Carter Poe (enters second season)

Social media: Twitter and Facebook

Active alums in the pros: None to my knowledge

2015 standouts: Antonio Manfut, Sergio Manesio, James Haupt, Admir Suljevic, Alex Ivanov

Primary supporters group: 6th City Syndicate (follow on Twitter)

Notes: Upset Erie in 2012 Great Lakes Conference title game before losing Regional Final to Madison 56ers

Antonio Manfut, left, is one of AFC Cleveland's most threatening attackers. (via AFC Cleveland)

Antonio Manfut, left, is one of AFC Cleveland's most threatening attackers. (via AFC Cleveland)

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Erie Commodores (2015 record: 5 wins, 7 losses -- 15 points; 7th place, missed playoffs)

Home stadium: McDowell High School, Erie, Penn.

Head coach: Dan Howell (unconfirmed return for 2016)

Social media: Twitter and Facebook

Active alums in pros: None, to my knowledge

2015 standouts: Daniel Deakin, Ricardo da Silva, Ryan Lund, Sten Marcson

Primary supporters group: None

Notes: Known as the Admirals until rebranding before 2015 season. Won Midwest Region in 2013, lost in league semifinals.

South Carolina's Danny Deakin was the Erie Commodores' best scorer in 2015. (via South Carolina)

South Carolina's Danny Deakin was the Erie Commodores' best scorer in 2015. (via South Carolina)

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Rochester River DogZ (2015 record: None, expansion team)

Home stadium: Boulter Field in Webster, NY

Head coach: Matt Tantalo (enters first season)

Social media: Twitter and Facebook

[Read more about the RiverDogZ signings of former FC Buffalo players]

2016 signings: Jake Schindler, Isaac Kissi, Luke Pavone, Tim Crawford, Ryan Bayne, Eric Nuss, Will Stone, Rafael Godoi, Brandon Bianchi

Primary supporters group: None announced yet

Luke Pavone, right, stands next to Rochester River DogZ head coach Matt Tantalo after signing with the club. (via Rochester's Facebook page)

Luke Pavone, right, stands next to Rochester River DogZ head coach Matt Tantalo after signing with the club. (via Rochester's Facebook page)

Email Ben Tsujimoto at btsujimoto@buffnews.com

 

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