Summer soccer approaches rapidly for one of the biggest men's amateur leagues in the Northeast, as the 81-team Buffalo & District Soccer League (BDSL) has unveiled its structure for summer 2018.
The league is split into six divisions - premier, championship, first, second, third and over-35 - and teams play 11 regular-season matches on Sundays at fields throughout Western New York. A maximum of three postseason contests is possible for teams that qualify.
To find schedules and other details, visit the BDSL's new website here.
BSC Raiders (defending champions)
Soho FC (runners up)
East Aurora FC
Wolfpack (newly promoted)
Southtowns FPFC (newly promoted)
Williamsville Willies (newly promoted)
Notes: With FC Yemen and Yemen Elite - both premier clubs in 2017 - consolidating into one side, the door was opened for three championship division squads to make the leap to the top flight.
While Wolfpack, which won the second tier last summer, and Southtowns, the runner-up, both automatically advanced, Willies - a young squad of primarily Williamsville North graduates that upset BSC Raiders in Tehel Cup last year - also got the nod. Buffalo Bantu and Roos FC were the two teams relegated from premier in 2017.
Roos FC (relegated from premier)
Buffalo Bantu (relegated from premier)
Beast City SC
Polonia (newly promoted)
NMB FC (newly promoted)
Pendleton United FC (newly promoted)
West Side FC (newly promoted)
Notes: With Panthers folding, an extra championship squad vaulting to premier and OP Alliance and Quake suffering relegation, four new sides advance into the second tier. Both Pendleton United and West Side FC have achieved promotion in two consecutive seasons, although the latter benefited from the reshuffling.
Lykan FC will have a considerably new look, as the team splintered into two; Lykan United has joined second division as an expansion side. Of the returning championship division squads, only Beast City SC boasted a positive goal differential last summer.
FC Quake (relegated from championship)
Grand Island FC
Dutch FC (newly promoted)
Los Chupacabras (newly promoted)
OP Alliance (relegated from championship)
Great Lakes Africa
Crimson SPAL FC
Ukraine (newly promoted)
Blizzard FC (newly promoted)
Honey Badgers (newly promoted)
Notes: The BDSL's first division remains massive, and it's wisely split into two separate sections for the second straight year. Crimson Fire and SPAL Buffalo merged sides to form Crimson SPAL FC, while Wood Cup champions Los Chupacabras and second-division winner Blizzard FC are the most accomplished among the five promoted sides.
Two Orchard Park-based sides - OP Alliance and Quake - make the drop from championship.
DSC Buffalo (relegated from first division)
Queen City Pride
Revolution SC (newly promoted)
Devils (newly promoted)
Clarence Rebels (expansion)
WNY United Reds
West Seneca Panthers
Future Stars (formerly FC Yemen 2)
Great White Buffalo (newly promoted)
West Seneca FC (expansion)
Lykan United (expansion)
11 Stars FC (expansion)
Olean 1854 FC (expansion)
Notes: Perhaps the most uncertainty of any division in BDSL dwells in the Odenbach section of second division, where four expansion sides will debut. Keep an eye on the West Seneca Derby, too, scheduled for 6 p.m. June 3 at the West Seneca Soccer Complex.
Olean 1854 FC earns the label of "farthest south team to ever compete in the BDSL," to our knowledge, but the division and schedule is set-up well to accommodate the geographical outlier. It will be an impressive task for the newcomers to take six trips that are roughly 80 minutes apiece. Depew Village was the lone team to fold from last year's second division.
Cheektowaga (relegated from second division)
Bangarang FC (formerly FC Aftershock)
Big Green SC
North Buffalo FC
Rust Belt United
La Salle FC (expansion)
Medina Mustangs FC (expansion)
NY Elite (expansion)
Iron Lungz FC (expansion)
Notes: Several third division sides will not return to the BDSL in 2018, including Erie County FC, Aurora Arsenal II, Great Lakes FC and venerable league veterans Stone Jug. La Salle returns after a year away, while Medina quickly snagged a few of Aurora's top players. The Mustangs' 56-minute trip to Sahlen Sports Park is the longest non-Olean-related jaunt.
Aztecas FC (expansion)
Notes: Aztecas FC is the lone addition to the over-35 group, which plays its games on Friday nights. Players are eligible to compete in any of the other BDSL divisions as well as this tier. Last year's final between West United and Azzurri went to penalty kicks after knotting at 2 through 120 minutes of soccer, with the latter emerging triumphant.
To come: 10 biggest signings of the BDSL offseason in premier, championship