On Sunday, FC Buffalo's players, coaches and some fans will depart for Germany, a trip to celebrate the Wolves' decade of existence and commemorate the 40th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Buffalo and Dortmund, Germany.
But first, head coach Frank Butcher will lead a portion of the roster against international visitors Monarcas Morelia Premier, specifically the reserves for the professional Liga MX squad in Mexico. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. May 3 at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium (2885 Main St.), and tickets remain available for $18.
The two sides are at opposite poles of their seasons, with Monarcas Morelia concluding its campaign in Mexico and FC Buffalo with just two training sessions and a friendly against Genesee Community College under its belt. While that disparity will likely play a big role on the field, there are substantial off-the-field benefits for the Wolves, and even for the city of Buffalo.
"It's an opportunity and responsibility for us to treat an accomplished club well as both a club (FC Buffalo) and as representatives of our city and region," Wolves owner Nick Mendola said. "It's a weight and a gift."
[Related: See who made BN Soccer's FC Buffalo 10th anniversary Best XI]
The Mexican reserves are spending Friday morning at International Prep and Lafayette, two city high schools with diverse populations and immigrant-laden soccer teams, engaging in activities and discussing their reason for visiting Buffalo. By working with Jose Perez Law and Michael Chieffo of State Farm (and also the new Hamburg High School soccer coach), FC Buffalo will donate 300 tickets to interested fans from those schools.
The match marks the start of the Neighbor Nations Showdown series for Los Canarios, who will tussle with Cleveland SC and Kalamazoo FC on May 5 and May 7, respectively. Monarcas Morelia, founded in 1924 and former Liga MX champions, hails from Michoacan, Mexico. FC Global Group, an organization that facilitates matches between international sides, presents this showcase.
Although the Buffalo 18 to face Monarcus Morelia has yet to be determined, the pool of players available for selection include a nice mix of familiar talent - Chris Walter, Kendell McFayden, Jeremy Figler, Gary Boughton, Robert Williamson and Hunter Walsh - as well as intriguing new pieces set to play significant roles in the National Premier Soccer League season, which begins May 19. Take a look at the Wolves' NPSL slate.
Here's FC Buffalo's traveling roster for the three games in Germany, which features matches against FC St. Pauli II and two other games in the Dortbunt Festival, a multi-faceted celebration of tolerance and diversity.
The club also confirmed that forward Akean Shackleford is expected to miss most of the season, and his former Indian Hills Community College teammate Ross Dalton, a goalkeeper, will not join the Wolves.
In their stead, FC Buffalo has added Rochester native Taner Bay, who plays for Rider University; Cameron Emerson, a New Zealand native who returns after an impressive first stint with the club; and Jamaican forward Nevado Elliot, who led Alderson Broaddus in scoring last season.