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BSC Raiders tweak roster to prepare for Phoenix Majors SC

After a two-week delay, the BSC Raiders of the Buffalo District Soccer League will play their USASA Amateur Cup Region 1 quarterfinal match against Phoenix Majors SC at 2:30 p.m. April 17 at Nichols School (1250 Amherst St.).

To earn their place in the tournament, the two-time defending BDSL champion held on to beat Italian-Americans SC of the Rochester District Soccer League, 1-0, on March 20. By our count, Sunday will mark the first time a local amateur soccer squad has competed in the Amateur Cup.

Raiders' roster to looks quite different from the March play-in match, though, as manager Rocky Palmeiro has brought in nine new players. BSC's 23-man roster can be expanded to as many as 30 as the tournament progresses, although once a player is on the roster, he cannot be removed.

Former Fairfield University forward Kwadwo Asante, of Ghana, is perhaps Raiders' biggest addition, as he'll give the BDSL side even more speed up front alongside Kendell McFayden. Other new faces, with age in parentheses, include:

*Bobby Ross (23): FC Buffalo, SUNY Brockport, Grand Island HS
*Gilberto "Polo" Suazo (38): long-time BUSS center midfielder, originally from Honduras
*Chris Billoni (29): SUNY Geneseo, St. Joe's Collegiate Institute
*Matt Grabowski (31): SUNY Fredonia, cousin of BSC teammate John Grabowski
*Alex Osuch (25): University of Rochester, Iroquois HS
*Kyle Westerholt (28): Canisius College, City Honors HS
*Pablo Ordonez (24): FC Buffalo, Medaille College, Cheektowaga HS
*Troy Brady (17): FC Buffalo signing, Canisius College recruit, Grand Island HS

Rudy Pikuzinski III remains on the roster, although he's unlikely to play Sunday, while Regan Steele, Cheick Diarra, Kwame Oduro and Gavin Falconer, who were all rostered for the clash against Rochester, will not play for various reasons.

The official bracket for the USASA Amateur Cup.

The official bracket for the USASA Amateur Cup.

Phoenix Majors SC, a club formed in 1926 in the United Soccer League of Pennsylvania, sit atop their league with an 8-0-1 record, as their amateur season is split in half (September through November, then April through June). BSC's foe trumped West Chester United, reigning champion of the Werner Fricker Region 1 Open Cup and qualifier for the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, 3-2, last September.

In 2011, Phoenix qualified for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, losing in the first round to the Rochester Rhinos, 2-0. West Chester is the only Eastern Pennsylvania team to reach the Open Cup since.

[Listen: "The Football Club of Buffalo Show" interviewed BDSL's Michael Schieber to talk about the Amateur Cup]

The visitors' roster is highlighted by the side's youngest player, Villanova product Sean Sheridan, who led the Wildcats in points as a senior in 2015. Other notables in the side include Liberian striker Fre Kamara, veteran midfielder Dan Murtagh, Jarryd Goldberg (Miami FC), Ben Castor (Marist), Pete Pittaoulis (Richmond Kickers, Drexel) and Garrett Eldridge (Roanoke, professional in Australia).

Considering their experience and pedigree, Phoenix enters the match as the favorites. On May 1, the winner of Raiders-Phoenix will face the victor between Christos FC, which trounced FC Yemen in the Werner Fricker Open Cup last weekend, and the Dulles Cannons.

Email Ben Tsujimoto, who's pumped about the nice weather predicted for Sunday, at btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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