Reigning Buffalo & District Soccer League Premier Division champion BSC Raiders will hit the road for an April 8 match against TFC Gunners in the first round of the Region I U.S. Amateur Cup.
The match kicks off at 1 p.m. from Robinson Secondary High School (5035 Sideburn Road, Fairfax, Va.). As usual, we'll do our best to forward along updates via BN Soccer's Twitter account.
Raiders manager Rocky Palmeiro unveiled the team's 19-man traveling roster; here's a rough breakdown by position. The only substitution rule is that when one player is substituted, he cannot re-enter.
Justin Figler (Grand Island HS/Daemen College)
Greg Slabyk (Roos FC)
Notes: Ryan Arvin, BSC Raiders' starting goalkeeper during the team's title run, will not make the trip, so Figler - a former Raider and younger brother of FC Buffalo 'keeper Jeremy - and Slabyk, who boasts some regional cup experience with FC Yemen two years ago, will vie for playing time.
Alex Osuch (University of Rochester)
Polo Suazo (BUSS)
Kyle Rogers (UB, FC Buffalo)
Chris Walter (Hartwick College, FC Buffalo)
Prince SaySay (BUSS/Medaille)
Alex Reid (Celtic United/Daemen College)
Notes: After a tremendous debut BDSL season as a center back, Suazo earns the call to the Raiders for this tournament only. Former NCAA Division I backs Walter and Rogers will both likely be chosen for the first XI. Both Osuch and Reid are capable forwards, giving the team plenty of versatility in its alignment. While the absences of Matt Waddington and Casey Derkacz certainly hurt, both Osuch and Rogers can compensate, while few tackle harder than Walter.
Rudy Pikuzinski III (Canisius College/Niagara United)
John Grabowski (FC Buffalo assistant/Fredonia)
Mo Hussein (Medaille/BUSS)
Abdi Sabtow (Medaille/BUSS)
Mohamed Musse (BUSS)
Ryan Walter (Binghamton/FC Buffalo)
Brandon Loncar (Buffalo State/Sharpshooters)
Anthony SaySay (Medaille/BUSS)
Notes: It's an absurdity of riches in Raiders' midfield for cup play, as five players join usual BSC stalwarts Pikuzinski, Grabowski and Ryan Walter. Mo Musse might be one of the area's most talented yet underexposed players; he's exceptional technically and is as graceful as they come on the ball. Sabtow and Hussein offer ample speed on the wings, while Loncar can turn the tide of a game in an instant.
Kendell McFayden (FC Buffalo/Medaille)
Mahmoud Kassem (Queenston FC)
Anthony Johnson (UB/Buffalo State)
Notes: The Raiders' leading scorer from last summer, McFayden is the marquee name in this position group. The former Rochester Rhino has signed on to play again with FC Buffalo, too, suggesting his fitness should be strong. Johnson and Kassem are enticing options off the bench, as they both are blessed with the pace to get in behind defenses.
TFC Gunners cruised through the fall season of the North Virginia Soccer League, carving out a 6-0 record and a +12 goal differential (22-10). On the heels of that triumph, the Gunners took part in a weekend tournament to determine who'd represent the NVSL in the Region I cup, besting Hammers FC - - who lost to the Clarence Coyotes in the first round of last year's Werner Fricker Cup - in the final.
TFC is on a dominant run in Virginia amateur men's soccer, as they conquered the spring, too, again defeating Hammers FC in the league finals.
Among the recognizable names on the Gunners' roster is Phil Vestergaard, a 2011 NCAA Division III All-American at Williams College; and Brian Foote, a former Penn and UCLA midfielder in the early 2000s.
Should Raiders triumph Sunday, they'd move on to face the U.S. Amateur Cup representative from New Jersey on April 22. Host sites will be re-drawn following the first-round matches.
Expect coverage in advance of Lackawanna FCY's (ex-Yemen Elite) Werner Fricker Open Cup clash, scheduled for April 15 in Eastern Pennsylvania.