Maryland-based amateur soccer club Christos FC is the favorite to repeat as Werner Fricker Cup champion, but Buffalo & District Soccer League's Clarence Coyotes have a chance to play spoiler at 2 p.m. Sunday at Nichols School.
By defeating Hammers FC of Northern Virginia, 1-0, on April 23, Clarence made history in winning the BDSL's first regional cup game and earned a berth in the tournament semifinals. Christos FC escaped with a 3-2 overtime win the same day over Junior Lone Star.
The Coyotes have remained in form, too, knocking off defending champion Amherst Sharpshooters, 4-3, in Week 1 of the BDSL season. Their roster for Sunday's match is similar to the squad they took down to Virginia.
Forward-midfielder Clint Holcomb and striker Tyler Hamill are the only two additions to the 18 that took down Hammers, but their work rates will be useful in wearing down the visitors' back four and creating more space and opportunities for Clarence's dynamic midfielders.
The chore will be considerably tougher for Coyotes center backs Ryan Schroen and A.C. LaFlore, who were part of a defense than looked vulnerable at times in the 4-3 win over Sharpshooters.
Clarence must deal with speedy Christos winger Elton Joe, who tormented FC Yemen last spring, as well as Pete Caringi III, a striker who posted a hat trick in Christos' 3-0 win in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup over National Premier Soccer League side Fredericksburg FC on May 10.
Vini Dantas (ex-Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL), Ricky Greensfelder (Wake Forest), Jon Ports (former NCAA D-3 Player of the Year) and Joe Glos (UMBC) are other notable names on Christos' roster. The visitors aren't invincible, however, as they fell to the Rochester River Dogz Reserves in the USASA Amateur Cup last month.
Like all Werner Fricker matches, substitutions are limited to seven, and when a player is subbed off, he may not return to the field. The winner of Sunday's match will face the Landsdowne Bhoys in the USASA Region 1 Werner Fricker Cup final, tentatively slotted for June 18.