CHICAGO — The Flint City Bucks soccer team made its final regular season road trip to Chicago on Friday. FCB continued their superb play versus FC United, defeating the Great Lakes division leaders 3-1. The Bucks were led by two rookie players, both scoring their first goals in a Flint City Bucks jersey.
The two national powerhouse clubs battled for the entire first half without scoring. Chicago had the better opportunities in the opening stanza, but the Bucks solid defense and goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg (Charlotte, NC/ Wake Forest) kept the high-powered FC United offense in check.
The second half was a different story as Bucks head coach Demir Muftari made a pair of important subs that would change the game. Seventeenyear old Hammam Nassar (Dearborn, MI/ Butler University) entered in the second half for his Bucks debut and quickly proved he belonged with the two teams on the pitch, loaded with future Major League Soccer talent. Nassar scored two goals and added an assist as “Man of the Match” to lead the Bucks offensive breakthrough in the second half.
Nassar’s first goal was a thing of beauty, as he took a quick throw in from Giuseppe Barone (Grand Rapids, MI/ Michigan State) and curled his shot from a sharp angle into the top side netting to put the Bucks up 1-0. After Chicago goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia stopped Barone’s penalty kick in the 72nd minute, FC United came right back and knotted the score at 1-1.
In the 82nd minute Nassar struck again after a nifty give and go with Yuri Farkus to make the game 2-1. Chicago continued to press looking for the equalizer when Nassar found late game substitution Will Jackson (Hudson, OH/ Akron) over the top and Jackson put his first touch of the game past Mwembia to wrap up the 3-1 victory and take the Bucks record in the division to 4-2-2 (14 points), trailing only FC United (6-2-0, 18 points). The Bucks and Chicago have played four times so far this season with the Bucks winning three of the matches, including the Hank Steinbrecher Cup USASA National Championship. The two longtime rivals face off again for the last time in the regular season next Thursday night at Kettering University’s Atwood Stadium (7 p.m. kickoff).
Coach Muftari was excited for the three points, but more enthused about the performance of his team and young players.
“It gives the entire coaching staff a great deal of pride when we make a very difficult decision to put a young player into a game of this magnitude and the player produces,”Muftari said. “Hammi showed great poise for a 17-year-old to step onto this stage and be a difference maker. And Will has worked hard this season to earn a role as well. At 18 years of age, that young man has a bright future at Akron. These two outstanding prospects have not played a minute of college soccer and are already making a difference for one of the top pre-professional clubs in North America. This is the satisfaction you can’t buy and really is the reason our entire coaching staff does this job. We needed a spark off the bench and today we got a couple of them which I hope continues for the next six weeks.”
Keep up with the Bucks at www.flintcitybucks.com, or on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.