Tag: BCFC

Mobile Falls 3-1 In First Leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup

Another wild chapter of the Forgotten Coast Cup was written on Wednesday night when AFC Mobile travel to Herbert Wilson Stadium in Gulfport, Mississippi to take on the rebranded Port City FC (formerly Biloxi City FC.) This match was originally scheduled to take place on Memorial Day weekend, but it was postponed due to the possibility of inclement weather. The Azaleas held a 1-0 lead for the majority of the game before ultimately falling to the Sounders 3-1.

The Azaleas were coming into the game after an incredible 4-3 comeback victory over Pensacola FC and were looking to claim one of two games in hand over the rest of their Eastern Conference opponents. 

Mobile burst out of the gate, dominating the early stages of the match. The Azaleas first chance came after Brantton “Sunshine” Greene charged his way through the pitch and passed the ball to Clairy Kengeye. Kengeye found Chisom Ogbonna who sent his shot wide. The Sounders retaliated minutes later but Mobile’s keeper easily saved Ethan Loftin’s shot. The Azaleas had another chance in the 15th minute when Kengeye boomed down the right wing and found a charging Chisom Ogbonna, who was flagged offside. 

However, it wouldn’t be long before Ogbonna found the score sheet. In the 20th minute Sherman Winchester sent the ball to Martin Fiemawhle who pulled the ball back and sent it across the box to Ogbonna who fired home the opening goal against Port City keeper Grant Adam. 

The Sounders attacked the Mobile defense for the next fifteen minutes. They thought they had their equalizer in the 35th minute after Hall’s shot dribbled its way into the back of the net after multiple deflections in the box. However, the goal was ruled offside and Mobile kept their 1-0 lead as both teams headed into the half. 

“To be honest with you from what I understand, this past weekend they rested several of their starters. We basically had the same group going and I think in the second half their energy raised up where we kind of got tired,” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said. “We weren’t playing too terribly but we were absorbing a lot of pressure and they were playing very direct…and I think we got tired from constantly chasing and them hitting long balls.” 

Port City started the second half as the stronger side, but the first clearcut chance of the half came when Kengeye and Fiemawhle beautifully worked the ball back and forth between the two of them nearly resulting in a Kengeye shot. Port City nearly pulled a goal back when Loftin juked his way through the box and was brought down. The home fans clamored for a penalty, but it was not given.

In the 63rd minute, Port City forward Michael Cooper was played in behind the Mobile defense by Jordan Hall, but Hall’s shot was saved by Gibson. 

Port City equalized in the 72nd minute after Hall worked his way into the box and smashed a shot home past Gibson. In true Forgotten Coast Cup fashion, controversy erupted after Port City defender Joe Elliot dropped his shorts and “mooned” the Causeway Rebellion moments after the equalizing goal. 

 The Sounders took the lead in the 86th minute after Steven Gallagher found Austin Miller who brought the ball down Cavan Doherty who slotted it home. 

Late in the game, Mobile was awarded a free kick. While setting up for the kick, both teams participated in a pushing match which came to a head when Ogbonna shoved a Port City player in the neck.  Ogbonna was shown a straight red for violent conduct and will be suspended for at least one match. 

“Once again, I feel like it’s a weekly thing talking about referees and decisions and how they play in the league.  I don’t know if it was necessarily the wrong call; like I said I couldn’t see it very well, but obviously at that point the game had gotten out of hand again so it’s just one of those things, something was bound to happen. We got caught with some retaliation and we ended up with the red card. 

The Azaleas would nearly equalize late into stoppage time. Keeper Elijah Gibson ran up to join the Mobile attack in the box. Fiemawhle sent a free-kick towards goal and Mobile players got a touch on the ball but it bounced around in the box, ultimately not being able to find the back of the net. The Sounders got out on the break and Joao Victor slotted the ball home into the empty net to seal a 3-1 win for Port City.

The Azaleas will return to The Lip this Saturday night to face GCPL cross-conference opponent Alexandria FC. Kickoff for that game is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23rd at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are just $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

Advertisements

Fan Reaction: Grassroots Growth

I’ve always been a sports fan. Growing up, I participated in sports but wasn’t all that good. I played a little junior high soccer, got cut from the team at basketball try-outs; and while I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where hockey was king, I couldn’t skate to save my life.

But my dad took me to a hockey game or two, and I still remember the fight between the Marquette Iron Rangers and the Green Bay Bobcats with 52 seconds left in the game. It was quite a sight. When the ice finally cleared of players, it was still covered with gloves and hockey sticks… and a little blood. Not sure this is good for an 8-year-old to see, but I was hooked. And I went to everything after our family moved to Seattle — football, baseball, basketball, hockey, even a soccer team called the Seattle Sounders.

The Sounders became a very big deal to me and introduced me to soccer in the 70s. Tickets weren’t expensive, and I could easily go to their games as a kid. So my friends and I would take the bus in to watch them play at the Kingdome. Fun Fact: the Sounders drew over 58,000 to a game in 1975 and were averaging about 25,000 fans a game by the late 1970s. The energy in the building was awesome, even though we still hadn’t figured out supporters group or scarves or any of the things we associate with soccer today. Sadly, soccer wasn’t quite a thing yet in the rest of the country. The NASL of that era spent too much money and had too few fans, and the league collapsed in the early 1980s.

As my sports fandom grew, so did my awareness that I was definitely NOT an athlete. I instead became the best fan I could be — loyal, loud, proud, and with the team to the end. If I couldn’t make an impact on the field, at least I could contribute from the stands. I’ve always cheered for the home team, where the jersey represents the communities I’ve called home.

The teams don’t have to be good, just ours!

Enter AFC Mobile — a club founded from the grassroots, a labor of love. AFC Mobile was formed to support soccer, and then joined a league and put out a schedule. When it became clear that we finally had a team, one that would represent our community, that was simply fantastic news to me! I don’t totally know how to describe my excitement, and my nervousness about this soccer experiment. Would soccer even work in Mobile? My wife and I decided we had to buy season tickets. Sure, we love soccer and wanted to see the games, but we also understood the importance of “butts in seats” to a team’s success. If this was going to work, it was critical that fans show up.

We didn’t need to worry.

AFC Mobile came out of the gates with more than 800 fans for its first match, one scheduled on Mother’s Day. The atmosphere was just incredibly fun, thanks in part to the Causeway Rebellion supporters group, but also due to the pent up energy of a crowd that was just excited to have a team and had been anticipating this opening match for some time.

We lost the game, but we clearly won the hearts and minds of the community. At the next game, the crowd was even bigger. And at the home finale, we had more than one thousand people on hand. This is in a league that typically drew 200 or fewer fans a game, and the Mobile community delivered five times that! Sweet lunacy, indeed!

AFC Mobile became something more than a team in its inaugural season. They became our club, our community, and a rallying point for a city that’s used to cheering for teams 200 miles away (looking at you, Auburn and Alabama). They embraced the community, and we loved them right back.

Even though the first season wasn’t great on the pitch, AFC Mobile is ours.

We finally got the elusive first win at the very last match of the season — a wild affair on the road that saw AFC Mobile take down its arch rival Biloxi City FC. (And how Biloxi became our derby match is a grand story in itself, best saved for another day).

If there was promotion and relegation in our league, we would have been relegated. We won one game in ten, finishing in last place, and yet it was one of the best times I’ve ever had in sports. Because so many people came out, so many people cared, and something special happened in the Azalea City. I was sad when the season ended.

In American soccer, teams don’t move to the next level on the pyramid because they’re good. They move on to the next level for a metric that’s at least as important: fan support! AFC Mobile and this community passed its first test. AFC Mobile had a great first season in the stands, and it will grow. When I met some of our players at the kit reveal before this inaugural season, I reminded them of who they were, and what they represent. Years and maybe decades from now, they will always be the first representatives of our community’s soccer team. They were keenly aware of this, and thrilled to be part of it.

As supporters, we should also remember our role in all this. We showed up and we wore scarves (in 90 degree heat) and we sang and we stomped. We bought swag and wore it proudly. We made the players feel like they were part of something. We showed a community that soccer can and will work in a city that’s addicted to the other kind of football. We did the unexpected.

We can take pride in that fact as fans and supporters. We are the first generation of AFC Mobile, and we are laying the foundation for the best that’s yet to come.

Always Mobile, ALways Home.

#SL1702

 

Fan Reaction: Pride, City, Club

Soccer has become huge in the United States. Groups in Mobile gather to watch US Men’s and Women’s National Team games as well as the English Premier League, the top Mexican division, America’s Major League Soccer, and many more leagues from around the world. However, nothing can compare to supporting a team that represents you, your culture, and your city. Nothing is better than pride, city, club.

In this Fan Reaction, supporter Sam Zanaty explains how his passion for soccer and his love of Mobile were able to mesh together and explode into something truly special.

We made ourselves known with the “M-O-B” chant

When I reflect back on growing up in Mobile, I fondly remember attending Mobile Bay Bears and Mystics games. If I had played my cards just right, I’d be fortunate enough to get Dippin’ Dots ice cream! And like most youngsters, I’d hope for a chance of catching a foul ball or getting a post-game autograph from one of the players. These are my memories of sporting events in Mobile.

Today, I’m 25 years old, my passion for sports can best be described as a love for the game of soccer. You’ll most definitely find me rooting for the men’s and woman’s US National Teams (but let’s not discuss the men’s team right now) and my favorite teams from Europe. COYS!

Still, there is something very special about supporting your hometown. I remember distinctly my excitement to find out that the city of Mobile would have a soccer team. I was relaxing one weekend checking out posts on Facebook when I saw one regarding AFC Mobile. My first swag purchase was a scarf, and later would follow with both a home and away jersey. That’s right… I do get a bit passionate about soccer teams. After a couple hats and another scarf, I felt like my swag collection was ready to represent AFC Mobile. Some would say I purchased too many things (You’re welcome AFC Mobile financial group).

The first home game I was able to attend was against Biloxi City FC (now Port City FC). Little did I, or anyone else in attendance, know that the game would be a roller coaster ride full of unexpected turns. Numerous goals, a scary injury and more red cards issued in a single team that I’ve ever witnessed in person. Unfortunately, we lost. However, I instantly bonded with the other fans in attendance, rooting our team on to represent our city.

Another fond memory I had of last season was attending the game where we broke 1,000 fans in attendance! Fans made up of young families, and a few hooligans, all wanting to support AFC Mobile. Being a part of the Causeway Rebellion and providing the boys a supportive atmosphere at home (and away) was an absolute blast! We made ourselves known with the “M-O-B” chant. If you are unfamiliar with it, google the Icelandic national team chant. Just imagine if we, Mobilians, can get 2,000 people to perform this at a game.

During the last home game, as I was leaving the Lip, I overheard a little girl speaking to her father and she asked “Are we coming back again next weekend?” The dad was unsure of the schedule so I had to be the barer of bad news that tonight was the last home game until next season. She was bummed of course, but then filled with excitement for the next season.

Me too young lady!

The future of the beautiful game of soccer is bright with our youth, and if we can continue to support this great game and our hometown team, who knows the level of success AFC Mobile can reach. I encourage all who are reading, to attend a game this upcoming 2018 season. You will not be disappointed and who knows, you too might unleash your love of the game.

For the love of the beautiful game.

AFC Mobile claims first ever win with dominant performance over Biloxi

GULFPORT–Powered by a first-half brace from Austin Hilyer and a goal apiece from Matt Merrill and Chisom Ogbonna, AFC Mobile beat Biloxi City FC 4-2 on Saturday for the first ever win in the club’s history.

“To get that monkey off the back, for me, for coach Ruben, for the team, for the fans, it’s an amazing feeling,” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said. “I knew we had it in us. Tonight, we played them off the park. We were the better team from start to finish.”

Biloxi opened the scoring in the 15th minute when the home team bundled in a corner that bounced across the end line over right back Sherman Winchester’s attempted clearance. Ten minutes later, Hilyer drew a yellow card while stopping a Biloxi counter.

Five minutes after that, a Markos Mallis corner skipped through the box to Hilyer’s waiting foot at the back post for the equalizer.

In the 35th minute, Hilyer headed home off another corner to give the team from Mobile a lead it would never relinquish.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Hilyer said. “He placed that cross perfectly, and I was right there. Perfect timing, I guess.”

Mobile dominated the second half from the first whistle, earning its third goal when midfielder Matt Merrill blasted a shot from outside the box past the Biloxi keeper.

Chisom Ogbonna had a chance to finish the match in the 62nd minute when he was brought down in the box to earn a penalty, but the forward’s resulting kick was saved. He didn’t make the same mistake twice. Ogbonna was again brought down in the 69th minute, and blasted the penalty off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal.

“He is a true professional,” Nicholas said of the club’s leading goalscorer. “He comes, he works hard, he is a leader. Even without the armband, he’s been a leader on the team, not just by scoring goals but showing when to calm down and when to go. When you have a player of that level on your team who you don’t have to coach, who’s another coach on the field, you love it. He’s been amazing.”

The home team got one back in the 75th minute, but it was scant consolation as Mobile’s win ended Biloxi’s bid for the Gulf Coast Premier League playoffs and avenged a 2-1 loss in Mobile, giving the Azaleas the 5-4 series win on aggregate.

After the first win in club history, the traveling fans – a bus-full and then some… more than 100 – took to the pitch to greet their club.

“When your fans outnumber, or are at least 10 times louder, than the home fans, and it feels like you’re at a home game, you’ve got nothing but love for that,” Nicholas said. “I almost lost my voice in the first half, and I know they were going crazy. It buoyed us all season to know they had our backs.”

“They’re amazing,” Hilyer said of the Causeway Rebellion Supporters Group. “We were on the field and the other team was telling us ‘y’all’s fans are crazy.’ That pushed us the entire match, and we couldn’t be more pleased with them.”

AFC Mobile ended its inaugural season with six points, one win, three draws and six losses, and the top six attendance records in the league, including Biloxi’s record attendance of more than 400 set Saturday night, the highest in a GCPL match not hosted by AFC Mobile.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Nicholas said of his squad. “Every one of them came out and worked hard, and this is just reward for a whole season.

(Photo: Michael Shartava/AFC Mobile)

AFC Mobile’s Man of the Match: Biloxi City FC’s Fred Riley

Biloxi City FC’s Fred Riley (24) after stopping a first half challenge by AFC Mobile’s Chisom Ogbonna (4). (Photo: Carissa Harrison/Facebook)

We’re doing something a little different for this week’s Man of the Match award. Instead of letting the fans decide which one of our players had the best game on Saturday, we’re giving the award to Biloxi City’s Fred Riley.

Riley suffered a broken leg after a nasty collision with his own goalkeeper.  He underwent surgery in Mobile Monday morning and is doing well.

Riley was born in Gulfport. He comes from a military family and spent much of his childhood traveling. He joined the Marine Corps and played soccer for the All-Marine team while enlisted. After leaving the Marines, Riley moved to Biloxi. Riley said Biloxi has a fantastic soccer scene with great youth clubs and a feisty adult league.

Despite the injury, Riley praised the Mobile fans for the support they have shown him and the atmosphere they created.

“Mobile was complete pandemonium,” Riley said. “Your fans make it impossible to hear yourself think! Great soccer atmosphere. I’ll make it a point to be at the return fixture!”

Riley also wanted to give a special shout-out to Roman Carnley, the Mobile United player he walked out onto the pitch with before the match. Thanks for being a fan!

AFC Mobile will take on Biloxi City FC on July 15th, the last match day of the regular season. We can’t wait to see you there, Fred!

AFC Mobile will travel to Pensacola to take on the Gulf Coast Texans next Saturday, June 17th. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Ashton Brosnaham Park. AFC Mobile fans are encouraged to make the short journey to the Pelican City to support the visiting team.  AFC Mobile will return home to the Lip for three consecutive weekends beginning Saturday, June 24th, against the Louisiana Fire. Tickets are only $5 and kids 12 and under are admitted free of charge. Follow us on Facebook for more information.

AFC Mobile Season Preview: Biloxi City FC

Biloxi FCCLUB: Biloxi City FC
NICKNAME: Blackjacks
FALL RECORD: 6-2-4 (3rd place)

HISTORY:Founded in 2016, Biloxi City Futbol Club is the first team from Mississippi to compete in the Gulf Coast Premier League. From an outsider’s perspective, Biloxi City has improved the quality and enhanced the reputation of the GCPL from the outset. From their minimalist badge and their social media promotions and presence, Biloxi has always treated their brand and their club as big as bigger teams in bigger markets. And frankly it has paid off on and off the pitch with Biloxi City coming within one game of earning a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup qualification spot in their debut season.

BILOXI CITY FC PLAYER TO WATCH: Patrick Harrison, midfield

MANAGER: Sinisa Vukadin

WHAT BILOXI CITY FC SAYS ABOUT AFC MOBILE: “I expect [AFC Mobile] to do a great job in Mobile,” says Biloxi City FC coach Sinisa Vukadin. “I know [coach] Nate Nicholas and he will make a respectable squad. I’m glad that [AFC Mobile] joined the Gulf Coast Premier League.”

“We expect the unknown,” responds Biloxi City FC Vice President Luke Berry. “We had our inaugural season last year and surprised a few people managing to finish in the top half of the table (3rd) and one of our proudest moments came on the first day of the season when we drew against CD Motagua in New Orleans,” He continues, “The league has so many new teams this year that I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect. Mobile are more unknown than most because they are starting completely from scratch, much like we did, unlike Gaffa FC or Pensacola who have either youth setups or a squad already. We’ll be watching their early results with interest before our first ever meeting on June 10th. Good luck for the season -as long as you finish below us.”

BOTTOM LINE: Mississippi has always had fantastic soccer development. As a brand new club in its first year, Biloxi City competed for the GCPL title right down to the last match of the season. The Blackjacks’ summer team should be no different. There are a few Mobilians, including former Murphy High School standout Edin Hodovic, who will feature for Biloxi. Look for a tightly-played, high intensity match during both games of “The Forgotten Coast Cup” this summer.

HOME PITCH: Herbert Wilson Stadium, 3225 Hancock Ave, Gulfport, MS 39507

WEBSITE: http://www.biloxicityfutbolclub.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/biloxicityfc
FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/biloxicityfc
INSTAGRAM: N/A
HASHTAGS: #BiloxiCityFC #OneCoast

GAMES AGAINST BILOXI CITY FC:

  • June 10th at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex
  • July 15th at Herbert Wilson Stadium