Category: Game Preview

Resurgent Pensacola FC looks to continue busting brackets in Mobile

The old idiom about it being “crunch time” is a reality for AFC Mobile this weekend. After dropping a tough 2-1 decision to Port City FC last week, the Azaleas (4-2-2, 14 points) are looking to rebound against a resurgent Pensacola FC (2-2-4, 8 points) squad that while already eliminated from the playoffs has been scoring goals at alarming rate and making a mess for GCPL Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls as they do.

All-time series: AFC Mobile and Pensacola FC have been tied at the hip for years, and AFC Mobile would likely not exist without Pensacola. Pensacola FC likewise would not be in the GCPL without AFC Mobile. Over the past three years, the series is tied as well. The Azaleas and the 59ers each have two wins, two draws, and one loss against each other. However, it is not the results as much as it is the scorelines in the matches that people remember. Pensacola and Mobile have combined for 28 goals over five games. The last three matches played by these two sides have all ended in 4-3 results, with Mobile winning two of those and Pensacola taking the other.

And with the way Pensacola has been putting up goals since they were awoken in the second half against Mobile a few weeks back, there is no reason to not expect another fire storm this week.

Pensacola FC Players to Watch: Pensacola features a plethora of former University of West Florida stars and hall of famers, but it is Mikey Lightbourne who leads the charge with 6 goals so far on the season. Lightbourne is the focal point of the Pensacola attack, playing as either a central attacking midfielder or support striker. The former Orlando City U23 player has proven difficult to stop for most defenses in the GCPL East.

Matchup to Watch: Arad Lev-Ari and Erik Aispuro are going to have to be big players for the Azaleas. While the backline will have its hands full with the huge attacking resurgence of Pensacola FC, it will be up to Lev-Ari and Aispuro to lead the charge on the attack for Mobile. Pensacola’s Christoph Zeller has consistently been a top defender in the league and since the 59ers have switched from their 4-3-3 formation that started the season to a more conservative 4-4-2, a shift they made in the second half against AFC Mobile back on June 1st, they tightened up their defense. But beyond Lev-Ari and Aispuro trying to break down Pensacola, Domenic Nascimben will undoubtedly need to have another big performance to stop an attack that has produced 17 goals in the last 4.5 matches.

Why is this a big deal? Mobile holds its own playoff fate in their hands. Yes, there are ways that the Azaleas could qualify for the playoffs that require help from other teams, but AFC Mobile’s easiest path is to win its final games. Pensacola, meanwhile, find themselves outside of the playoffs with no way in. With this in mind, Pensacola has never lost in Mobile and this rejuvenated squad could really do some damage in this match to keep things incredibly tight in the GCPL East heading into the last week if they can earn another victory in Mobile.

AFC Mobile hosts Pensacola FC at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex, 3610 Michael Boulevard, Mobile, Alabama. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and kids 12 and under are admitted free.

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Playoff hopes, Forgotten Coast Cup on the line as AFC Mobile travels to Gulfport

With just three games to go, AFC Mobile still has all to play for. The Azaleas (4-2-1, 14 points) picked up a huge 2-1 victory over Hattiesburg FC last week and briefly topped the Eastern Conference before Tallahassee SC (4-2-1, 14 points) beat Gulf Coast Rangers to reclaim the top spot on goal difference. Meanwhile, a loss this weekend would eliminate Port City FC from playoff contention after a last minute concession handed the defending champions a 5-4 loss against Pensacola.

All-time series: Labeled the “realest rivalry in American soccer” by Non-League America, AFC Mobile and Port City have as checkered a history as any two clubs in the GCPL. Port City holds the overall series edge with a 3-0-2 (9 points) record against Mobile, but Mobile holds the lead for the 2019 Forgotten Coast Cup after a closely contested 3-1 win at home earlier this season. Since that time, the Sounders have remained competitive, but have been unable to claim a playoff spot. In Gulfport, with their playoff lives at stake and a resurgent attacking corps, Port City FC promise to be a tough out for AFC Mobile.

Port City FC Players to Watch: The headliner for Port City FC is 2018 Big 10 lead scorer and future UConn signee Jordan Hall, but midfielder Joao Victor Facanha is the conductor of the Sounders’ recently-prolific attack. Playing on either the wing or as a central attacking midfielder, Facanha could break a stout Mobile defense down if given the time and space to do it.

Matchup to Watch: Hall had his chances earlier in the season against Mobile, driven by Facanha. Potentially one of the most dangerous attacking duos to ever play in the GCPL, Hall will hope to take advantage of the backline of Vlad Margolin and Zubair Taylor, butTaylor and Margolin have anchored a disciplined and stingy backline. This match will come down to whether Margolin, Taylor, and the rest of the Mobile defense can withstand the full storm of a motivated Gulfport attack.

Why this is a big deal? On the field, the match has massive playoff implications. A win by Mobile would see the Gulfport club eliminated at the hands of the Azaleas for the second time in three seasons, and could boost AFC Mobile’s playoff chances dramatically, pending the results from Tallahassee at Pensacola and Rangers at Hattiesburg (both kicking off at 7 p.m. CT).

AFC Mobile plays Port City FC at Herbert William Stadium, 3225 Hancock Ave, Gulfport, Mississippi. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. CDT. Tickets are $10 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free.

Playoff Positioning is on the Line as Hattiesburg FC comes to Mobile

Last week in a fantastic environment and atmosphere, AFC Mobile (3-2-1, 11 points) pulled off a hugely important draw on the road against Tallahassee Soccer Club (3-2-1, 11 points). With Pensacola FC pulling off an otherworldly and dominant upset of the Gulf Coast Rangers, the top of the Eastern Conference now has three teams – Gulf Coast Rangers, Tallahassee SC, and AFC Mobile – tied on points and only tiebreakers separating the three. Hattiesburg FC is coming off a late 2-1 loss to Port City FC where PCFC’s Jordan Hall scored in the dying moments to give Port City the win.

All-time series: In the second game of the season, AFC Mobile went to Hattiesburg and took all three points. Tilman Schober opened the scoring for the Azaleas and goals were added on by Chisom Ogbonna and Ibrahima Ndaw. The match saw the Mobilians hold most of the possession, but Hattiesburg was able to attack on the counter, forcing some exceptional defensive work out of center backs Vlad Margolin and Zubair Taylor, as well as forcing some big stops from goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben before AFC Mobile left Mississippi with a 3-0 victory.

Hattiesburg FC Players to Watch:  On the attacking end, Hattiesburg features Matias Pazos, a recent graduate of William Carey University and a former Division II All-American at WVU Tech. He will be in charge of leading the HFC attack. But even with the magic Pazos can provide, the truth is, as goes Andrew Elkins, so goes Hattiesburg. Elkins, a GCPL veteran of a few seasons and winner of the 2018 GCPL Cup with Port City FC, is a strong, smart defender with imposing size and intellect. He is capable of marshaling his younger teammates out of tough situations. Along with goalkeeper Adrian Cabado, the defense of Hattiesburg has kept this young squad competitive in every match this season.

Matchup to Watch: Here we again will be focused on how Andrew Elkins deals with the Mobile attack, but particularly the dynamism of Chisom Ogbonna and Arad Lev-Ari. Lev-Ari and Ogbonna were able to put in strong shifts in the first match against Hattiesburg. It will be how Elkins and the rest of the Hattiesburg squad re-calibrate their defensive performances that will ultimately show if Hattiesburg can get a result in Alabama. Ogbonna and Lev-Ari, as well as Mikey Conneh and Clairy Kengeye, will have to move the ball quickly in order to open up space; meanwhile, Hattiesburg will need to shut down the Azalea attack in order to keep their slim playoff hopes realistically alive.

Why this is a big deal? With the way this matchup is lining up and with Tallahassee and the Rangers meeting this weekend as well, a win or draw could potentially push AFC Mobile into either first or second place in the Eastern Conference; however, a loss to Hattiesburg FC could be detrimental for the Azaleas heading into the final stretch of the season

AFC Mobile plays Hattiesburg FC at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex, 3610 Michael Boulevard, Mobile, Alabama. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. CDT. Tickets are $10 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free.

AFC Mobile starts second-half of the season in Tallahassee with playoff positioning in mind

After a tough loss last week, AFC Mobile dropped to third place in the GCPL East standings (3-1-1, 10 points) and are looking to rebound against Tallahassee SC (3-1-1, 10 points). The Battle Lions of Tallahassee are 2nd in GCPL East by virtue of the second tiebreaker, goal differential, which is one better than AFC Mobile’s entering Saturday’s match.

All-time series: Tallahassee SC and AFC Mobile ended their first-ever match in a 2-2 draw on a rain-soaked pitch in Mobile on the season’s first matchday. Mobile’s Ibrahima Ndaw opened the scoring early, but a long-range chip by Tallahassee’s Sy Fontenot equalized for the visitors. Late in the match, Tallahassee SC’s Peter Love scored a free kick from distance to take the lead before a last-gasp header by Mobile’s Chisom Ogbonna pulled out the equalizer in the second minute of added time.

Tallahassee SC Players to Watch: Tallahassee has proven early on that they belong in this league. While much of that is due to their organized defense, there is also the midfield magic of Boneco Bazil and Daniel Villa who each have 2 goals, with Bazil also contributing 2 assists. Villa’s contributions, however, cannot be noted solely on the boxscore. A player at University of South Florida, Villa’s leadership in the middle, hard-nosed tackles, and secondary passing to open space have helped the Battle Lions enter the second half of the season with a playoff position well within their grasp.

With 2 goals and 2 assists plus opportunities created, Tallahasse SC’s Boneco Bazil has had an outstanding debut in the GCPL

Matchup to Watch: Goalkeeper Hugo Castro Rodrigues is a monster in between the pipes for Tallahassee. In the season opener, the Mobile attack was best held in check by the man known affectionately in Tallahassee as “Peruzzi.” Peruzzi was able to make more than a few acrobatic saves at point blank range with Mobile’s attack bearing down on him. It was Peruzzi’s quick thinking that caught a pushed up Mobile attack and ended up getting an assist on the Fontenot goal. Since that first game against Tallahassee, Mobile has gone on to score 3 or more goals in every match, while Tallahassee has only given up 2 goals once more.

Why this is a big deal? With both of these clubs drawing earlier and only having losses to the Gulf Coast Rangers, it is all about the playoffs stepping into the second half of the season. A win for either team vaults the victor into playoff position with a definitive head-to-head tiebreak and four matches to play.

AFC Mobile plays Tallahassee SC at the Florida State University Main Campus Fields, 1001 St Augustine St, Tallahassee, Florida. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. CDT (8 p.m. EDT). Tickets are $7 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free.

AFC Mobile hosts Eastern Shore neighbors in top-of-the-table clash

AFC Mobile, the current GCPL East leaders, (3-1-0, 10 points) will look to build on its fast start to the season on Saturday when it hosts Gulf Coast Rangers (2-2-0, 8 points) who are coming off a disappointing 0-0 midweek draw with Port City FC.

All-time series: In the first year of this fixture, Gulf Coast Rangers won both legs, 2-0. At the Lip, a controversial call erased an apparent goal from Mobile’s Abdal Al-Mutairi and Rangers’ Nathan Gillespie, a former AFC Mobile man, scored the second goal into an open net after Mobile pulled its keeper into the Rangers’ box for a late corner. In the Baldwin County leg, Mobile played toe-to-toe with the Rangers and had what would have been the go-ahead goal disallowed again when Martin Fiemwhale was ruled offside. Two second-half goals completed the double for the Rangers, who went on to a second-place finish in the GCPL East.

The Gulf Coast Ranger’s Players to Watch: The Gulf Coast Rangers feature several familiar faces to AFC Mobile fans: Brantton Greene, a former AFC Mobile left back with lightning quick speed up the flanks in both the attack and defense, and Barou Ndaw, former AFC Mobile goalkeeper and brother of AFC Mobile’s current leading goalscorer Ibrahima Ndaw, minding the nets. The Rangers also boast a strong midfield led by Cameron Cranton, an attacking midfielder who leads the charge for the Rangers with incisive passing and Matt McArthur, a hard-nosed, experienced defensive midfielder who poses a threat from set pieces. Leading the line is last year’s GCPL Eastern Conference MVP Yan Livenu, who stretches defenses with his off-ball movement.

The Gulf Coast Rangers forward Yan Livenu is one of the most dangerous attackers in the Gulf Coast Premier League and will be one to watch during the Rangers’ attack.

Matchup to Watch: The key matchup to watch will undoubtedly be Livenu’s duel with AFC Mobile’s Vlad Margolin. Margolin has proved solid in defense for the Azaleas through four games this season, quieting current golden boot leader Mikey Lightbourne of Pensacola in addition to Port City’s dangerous pair of Michael Cooper and Jordan Hall. Livenu’s technical skill and deep runs will pose a different threat for Margolin, Zubair Taylor, goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben, and the rest of the Mobile backline.

Why this is a big deal? These are two clubs looking to top one another in the standings and on the pitch. They are the last two undefeated teams in the Eastern Conference, and with a win, would top the league-wide GCPL standings. A win for Mobile would cement the upstart Azaleas as the real deal and the team to beat going into the second half of the season, providing a serious boost to the team’s push for its first-ever playoff place.

AFC Mobile hosts the Gulf Coast Rangers at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex, 3610 Michael Boulevard, Mobile, Alabama. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free.

Getting to Know You: Cajun Soccer Club

This weekend, AFC Mobile will travel to Lafayette, Louisiana for a cross-conference matchup against the Cajun Soccer Club. Awaiting them there will be one of the most consistently dominant sides in the GCPL. Coming off a 1-1 draw against Boca Knights at LUS Fiber Stadium, CSC will attempt to earn all three points in its second home match of the season. Meanwhile, AFC Mobile, following an offensive firestorm in a 4-3 loss to Pensacola FC, will be looking to steal some points in one of the toughest places to play in the GCPL.

CLUB: Cajun Soccer Club

NICKNAME: CSC

Cajun Soccer Club pulled off what had never been done in the GCPL before, when it became the first team to knock CD Motagua of New Orleans out of the playoffs. It held tight in the GCPL Cup Championship Game, but ultimately finished as league runner-up in a bitterly contested 1-0 loss to Gaffa FC.

Now the team has reloaded bringing back much of the cast from last season to try to get over that final hurdle and clinch their first GCPL Cup….

PLAYERS TO WATCH: CSC has a plethora of attacking options to choose from, but the man that the offense runs through is Mickey Ledger. Ledger, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines international, has played in senior team competitions against the USMNT. Last year, he was perhaps the top attacker in the GCPL and won its Golden Boot. This year he will be joined by former Honduran U23 Erick Medina at left back. Medina has international experience and will bring not only a toughness but a sense of calm awareness to the CSC defense and attack

The club can be found on Facebook at @CajunSoccerClubMensTeam and Twitter at @CajunSoccerClub.

Getting to Know You: Pensacola FC

The preseason has officially ended and Gulf Coast Premier League action begins this weekend! AFC Mobile’s first opportunity to test its merit in regular season GCPL action will be this Saturday, May 12th, against Pensacola FC. Pensacola FC considers itself “The People’s Club” and has a strong group of former University of West Florida alumni at its disposal. Last year, AFC Mobile lost to them at The Lip before pulling off a stunning draw at Ashton Brosnaham Stadium in Pensacola. This year, both teams have reloaded, Pensacola FC has rebranded, and round two could be fascinating.

CLUB: Pensacola FC

NICKNAME: The 59ers

Last year was Pensacola FC’s debut year in the Gulf Coast Premier League. In that opening salvo, they took on the moniker of “Gulf Coast Texans” after the Pensacola-based youth club where several of the players either coached or started playing. For the 2018 season, they have rebranded to better represent the City of Pensacola by taking on the new name “Pensacola FC,” which was the youth club’s name prior to becoming an affiliate of the Dallas Texans youth club.

In their debut season, Pensacola FC found themselves relatively successful, finishing the season with a 6-1-3 record. It came down to the last Wednesday of the regular season when Biloxi City held the 59ers’ fate in their hand. If Biloxi had drawn with or beaten Gaffa FC, PFC would have qualified for the playoffs, but Gaffa won and Pensacola was sent home without tasting the playoffs in their inaugural year.

With many of the same players back this year and Nolan Intermoia taking over coaching duties from Nick Cardosa, the club is hoping to continue their success from last season and make that final push into an expanded playoff field.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The 59ers have studs on both sides of the pitch including a few younger UWF graduates. However, it is the work of Lafayette-native Dillon Gallet that spectators will want to watch. Gallet was an All-GCPL East selection and finished tied for fifth place in the Golden Boot race. He may be one of the fastest players in the GCPL and will prove a matchup headache all night for any team. Defensively, Chance Chancellor was also an All-GCPL East selection. He has taken on player-coaching duties this year, but will make sure that his defensive line will again be one of the best in the GCPL.

The club can be found on Facebook at @pensacolafc1559 and Twitter at @PensacolaFC.

Tickets to Saturday’s game are just $5 each, and all kids 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. This Saturday is Teacher Appreciation Night! All school employees with a valid school ID will be admitted at no charge! All AFC Mobile home games are played at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile.