Tag: GCPL

AFC Mobile to join National Premier Soccer League

AFC Mobile

Mitchell Kahalley 

251-421-4819

mkahalley@afcmobile.net

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Mobile, Alabama – After three seasons of competing in the Gulf Coast Premier League (GCPL), AFC Mobile will join the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) for the 2020 season. The NPSL is one of the largest men’s leagues in the United States, with over 90 teams competing in multiple conferences throughout the country. The NPSL is affiliated with the United States Adult Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation, and offers direct access for its top teams to the US Open Cup, the oldest soccer competition in the US.

“It’s an exciting step for the club. Joining the NPSL gives us the opportunity to compete on the national stage and raises the profile of soccer in this area,” said AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek. 

AFC Mobile will anchor a new NPSL conference alongside former GCPL rivals Tallahassee SC, Pensacola FC and Port City FC (Gulfport, Miss.) The new conference will be rounded out by NPSL stalwarts New Orleans Jesters and former North American Soccer League side Jacksonville Armada. 

“With a fully professional league office, a national footprint, a direct pipeline to competing against USL and MLS clubs in the US Open Cup, and the ability to keep our rivalries against Port City FC, Pensacola FC and Tallahassee SC intact, NPSL offers us a great platform to continue to advocate for the people and culture of Mobile through our club,” AFC Mobile CFO Sean Landry said. “We’re eternally grateful to the GCPL for their support over the last three years, and we look forward to working with them as we continue to build our club and soccer on the Gulf Coast.” 

AFC Mobile will compete in the NPSL’s summer season, which runs from May to August. The season will consist of home-and-away matches against each team in the Gulf Coast Conference, and will culminate in a Conference playoff between the two highest-ranked teams in the Conference. The Conference champion will progress to a regional playoff, and, if successful, a national championship match. At the end of each season, the NPSL places its conference champions and other top-ranked teams into the US Open Cup, based on spots allocated to them by U.S. Soccer.

As a thank you to the fans who have brought us to this stage, we’re offering a limited time sale – 30% off everything in our store with the code ‘NPSL30’!

About AFC Mobile 

AFC Mobile is Mobile’s minor league soccer team. Founded in 2015, AFC Mobile is a locally owned organization with a mission to advocate for the growth and development of the City of Mobile through soccer, and to develop a vibrant, intelligent and passionate soccer community. The club partners with locally-focused organizations, from small businesses to global large-scale employers, and offers a variety of soccer-based community initiatives, while competing in the National Premier Soccer League.

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AFC Mobile Clinches Playoff Berth With 2-1 Over Pensacola FC

AFC Mobile made history on Saturday night by clinching a playoff spot for the first time in the club’s short history. The Azaleas’ 2-1 win over Pensacola FC along with Port City FC’s 4-3 victory over Rangers FC sent AFC Mobile to the playoffs and one step closer to a Gulf Coast Premier League Cup championship.

“All credit to our players for the performance tonight. They knew what was at stake and they performed for 90 plus minutes,” said head coach Steve Wieczorek. “I’m really happy and appreciative for all the support to this group of players from the board, from the fans and at the end of the day making it to the playoffs was the step we needed to take to reward all the hard work for all the people that have been involved in the club over the last couple of years. And it’s because of all those steps and all of that work that preceded us that these players were able to do this tonight.”

It was a slow start to the match for both teams, with neither side having any threating chances. Mobile’s first real chance of the game came in the 26th minute after Tilman Schober played a great ball from the right wing into Arad Lev-Ari. However, Lev-Ari’s low-rolling shot went skirting across the face of goal and just past the left post.

Pensacola responded moments later in the 33rd minute after a booming cross was sent into the box and headed at point-blank range towards Mobile’s goal. Mobile’s goalkeeer, Domenic Nascimben, jumped straight up and palmed the ball away from goal. The ball was then cleared out by Mobile’s Ira Bowens. Nascimben had a strong showing in the final minutes of the first half, making two other crucial saves to keep the match level 0-0.

The Azaleas came out strong in the second half. In the 49th minute, Tilman Schober took a shot that dragged just wide to the left of goal. In the 52nd minute, Batevya Mediateur played a beautiful long ball from midfield that found the feet of Sam Blackburn. Blackburn was brought down in the box, and the Azaleas were awarded a penalty. Arad Lev-Ari stepped up to the spot and coolly slotted home the penalty for Mobile, giving the home team a 1-0 lead.

Schober nearly gave the Azaleas a 2-0 lead in the 60th minute, but once again his shot went just left of the post. Two minutes later, Pensacola almost equalized on a long-range effort from Lyuboslav Vitanov, but his shot went just over the crossbar.

Mobile took the lead in the 76th minute courtesy of an Arad Lev-Ari free kick. Sam Blackburn once again was taken down by the 59ers nearly 30 yards away from goal. Lev-Ari’s free-kick sailed past the keeper and ricocheted off the inside of the left post and into the net to give the Azaleas a 2-0 lead.

Lev-Ari began the season as a crucial midfield player for the Azaleas but has stepped up to fill the shoes of striker Iba Ndaw after Ndaw’s injury. Lev-Ari is one of several players that have made Mobile home for the summer and have been vital for the Azaleas this season. Lev-Ari says that the chemistry between the local players and out of town college players is the reason this season has been so successful.

“From day one the chemistry was so good. Everyone was so nice. We hang out together after practice, after the games, we go out, we go eat together. The local boys here, Memo, Erik, Max, Baba, Iba, Sherman… we have a lot of local players that are really talented as well and they really helped us settle in,” Lev-Ari said. “And a lot of them really stepped up. The fans, the entire city, it’s been a great experience for us, and I think that’s what made us better than the other teams that didn’t make the playoffs.”

Pensacola’s Lyuboslav Vitanov pulled one back for the away team in the 87th minute after heading in the ball off a corner. The 59ers nearly equalized in the 95th minute when Salia Carr cleanly tackled a Pensacola player in the box to prevent them from scoring on a breakaway. Moments later, the referee blew the whistle, and AFC Mobile officially clinched its first playoff berth in club history.

Starting right back Sherman Winchester, who has been with AFC Mobile since the club’s first season, believes there’s something special about this group that led them to the playoffs this season.

“The past few years we’ve always had the potential to do it, but this year it’s just something special with the new boys that have come in, coach as well, it’s just changed the whole vibe of the team, everybody just wants it more. It’s a great feeling,” Winchester said.

When asked if AFC Mobile was going to win the GCPL Cup, Winchester smiled and said, “Every single time man. Every single time, from now on.”

AFC Mobile has one last regular season match before the playoffs next Saturday at Rangers FC. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Volanta Stadium in Fairhope, Alabama. Make the trip across the bay and support the Azaleas as they attempt to win the the Gulf Coast Premier League’s Eastern Conference.

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.

Forgotten Coast Cup Primer

What is the Forgotten Coast Cup?

The Forgotten Coast Cup is a competition between AFC Mobile and Port City FC*. The trophy goes to the supporters group of the winning team. If AFC Mobile wins the trophy, the Cup goes to the Causeway Rebellion who hold onto the trophy for one year and display it as they wish. If Port City FC wins the trophy, the Cup goes to the Port City Armada who hold onto the trophy and bragging rights until the next winner is decided.

*formerly Biloxi City FC

How is the winner determined?

The easiest way to determine the winner is the aggregate score of the two legs of the regular season series between Port City FC and AFC Mobile. Whoever scores the most goals over the two games receives the Forgotten Coast Cup.

What if the the series is tied on aggregate?

The first tiebreaker is away goals. Whichever of the two teams has scored the most away goals in the series will be the winner.

What if the away goals are the same?

If the away goals are the same, it goes down to FIFA’s fair play points. measures. Whichever team has the least yellow and red cards in the series will be marked as the winner.

Fair play points

  • first yellow card: minus 1 point
  • indirect red card (second yellow card): minus 3 points
  • direct red card: minus 4 points
  • yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points

What if it is still tied?

If somehow it is still tied, the result will be determined by an arm-wrestling match between a representative of the Causeway Rebellion and a representative of the Port City Armada.

Forgotten Coast All-Time

YEARWinnerin Gulfportin MobileAggregate
2017AFC MobilePCFC 2-4 AFCMAFCM 1-2 PCFCAFCM 5-4 PCFC
2018Port City FCPCFC 2-1 AFCMAFCM 1-3 PCFCPCFC 5-2 AFCM

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.

AFC Mobile Moves Into Playoff Spot With 2-1 Win over Hattiesburg FC

AFC Mobile pulled into second place in the Eastern Conference with a win over Hattiesburg FC on Saturday.  The Azaleas were able to overcome a rough start, collect three points, and move into a playoff position despite missing two key players in Iba Ndaw and Tilman Schober. 

The Azaleas fell behind early in the 8th minute. Following a free-kick from just outside the penalty area that goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben dove to the ground to save, Hattiesburg FC’s Tim Tuomikowki collected the rebound and chipped it into the net give the visitors a 1-0 lead. 

“We definitely did respond very well tonight. To recover the game after what might be a slowish start, but the reality is I think we well and truly deserved to win tonight regardless of conceding at the start,” said AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek. 

Mobile attempted to pull one back with chances from the club’s leading all-time leading goalscorer Chisom Ogbonna in the 16th and 19th minutes, but neither shot truly threatened Hattiesburg.

In the 28th minute, Ogbonna was brought down leading to a free-kick just outside the box. The birthday boy, Arad Lev-Ari, stepped up and hit a rocket of a free-kick to equalize for the Azaleas. Usually a force in the midfield for Mobile, Lev-Ari played in the forward position filling in for the injured Ndaw. 

“It’s a new position for me. It’s kind of difficult to adjust to it. I didn’t get the ball as much as I usually get it,” said Lev-Ari, “but I think it worked well for the team. When I got the ball it was in good positions so I could either shoot or pass, so it worked out.”  

“How we tried to penetrate them was a little bit different than how we’ve approached games in the past,” Wieczorek said. “Obviously, Arad certainly delivered with his mobility and his finishing.”

The Azaleas took the lead shortly after the start of the second half when Sam Blackburn slotted home the game-winner from a tight angle. Lev-Ari was involved with his second goal of the night after providing the assist. 

“We made a bit of a change at halftime. Coach Steve was brave and made the decision to move me into an attacking right back position. He gave me a bit of a license to go forward and attack. I managed to find a little bit of space there. Arad, as he’s done so many times this season, managed to play a great pass and then I managed to do the rest,” said Blackburn. 

The Azaleas created a few more chances throughout the second half but couldn’t find the back of the net. In the 72nd minute, Ogbonna played a great ball that nearly found the feet of Lev-Ari, but it was cleared by the visiting team. Despite not scoring, Ogbonna shined for the Azaleas putting in one of his best performances of the season on both sides of the ball. 

The last 15 minutes of the game saw yellow cards shown to Mobile’s Eddie Dakwa and Ogbonna, as well as a chance for Hattiesburg hit the post, but the Azaleas managed to hang on and come away with a 2-1 victory.

The result leaves Mobile tied on points with conference-leaders Tallahassee SC at the top of the table, with the Battle Lions holding the second tie-breaker of goal differential by 2 goals.  Gulf Coast Rangers, who were also tied on points with Mobile and Tallahassee going into Week 7, dropped to third place following a 2-0 loss to Tallahassee.

AFC Mobile will return to action this Saturday, June 29th, as they head to Gulfport to take on Port City FC in the second leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup. The Azaleas beat the reigning GCPL champions earlier this season at the Lip 3-1. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Herbert Wilson Stadium in Gulfport, Mississippi. 

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 plays to scoreless draw in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE – Missing three starters and with another limited by injury, AFC Mobile kept a clean sheet on the road for the second time this season on Saturday, playing Tallahassee S.C to a 0-0 draw in the Floridian capital. The draw results in a three-way tie on points atop the Gulf Coast Premier League’s Eastern Conference, with the Gulf Coast Rangers holding the head-to head-tiebreakers against the Azaleas and the Battle Lions. 

“We’ve come here with a plan. The plan was to make sure we didn’t concede today. We’ve reached that task,” said AFC Mobile goalkeeper Dominic Nascimben. “And, at minimum, coach Steve [Wieczorek] gave us the task of making sure we had at least a tie. So we’ve hit both tasks.”

AFC Mobile made its longest road trip of the season without defender Andrew Rhoda, midfielder Arad Lev-Ari and leading goalscorer Iba Ndaw, all of whom were resting with minor injuries. Those absences led to a first-team debut for defender Salia Carr and the return of long-time Mobilian Clairy Kengeye. Midfielder and frequent captain Tilman Schober, nursing a knock as well, started the match on the bench for the first time this season.

The game opened with few chances for either side. Tallahassee’s first big chance came in the 19th minute after a Mobile giveaway. However, Nascimben came up with the first of several big saves in the game. Tallahassee nearly took the lead in the 34th minute, but its shot bounced off the far post, resulting in a scramble in the box, ultimately cleared by the Mobile defense. 

The teams entered halftime deadlocked at 0-0. Mobile’s first chance of the second half came in the 50th minute after Tilman Schober played a ball to Chisom Ogbonna, whose shot sailed over the crossbar. The home team pinned the Azaleas back early on in the second half, dominating possession. However, near the 60th minute mark, Mobile was able to shift the play into their attacking third. The Azaleas were awarded a free kick in the 65th minute. Mikey Conneh stepped up to take the kick, but his shot was rocketed into the hands of Tallahassee’s keeper. 

In the 70th minute, Tallahassee was given a free kick of their own. Their shot was tipped just over the bar by Nascimben. Mobile cleared the ensuing corner and then the subsequent throw-in. 

Mobile’s best chance of the match came in the 82nd minute when Clairy Kengeye’s powerful, low-rolling effort was collected by the Tallahassee keeper. The Azaleas would have one last in chance in the 93rd minute when Erik Aispuro’s shot was sent out for a corner that was easily handled by the Battle Lions. Shortly after, the full-time whistle blew with the match ending in a 0-0 draw. 

“I think the boys played their socks off today. They’re happy with the result. They put the effort in today…and we just kept grinding it out and got the result. I can’t fault anyone today. All the boys are solid in the back. So I’m really proud of the lads in front of me.” Nascimben said. 

Next up for the Azaleas is a home match against Hattiesburg FC on Saturday, June 22nd. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. 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 Falls Short to Gulf Coast Rangers in First Loss of the Season

In a match that felt every bit the rivalry that it is from start to finish, AFC Mobile suffered its first loss of the season in front of a record-breaking crowd of 1,533, dropping to third place in a tight GCPL Eastern Conference.

An early 5th minute goal on a nice flick from Yan Livenu to Xavier Audergon, playing in a left midfield position, saw the Rangers take an early lead. Then, some great ball work from Cameron Cranton sent David Hall wide in the penalty area where he took on Vlad Margolin and Ben Fredrickson and finished the ball at the far post to give the boys from Baldwin County a two goal lead in the 16th minute.

“I feel like it just was not clicking towards the start of the game. I feel like there was a little bit of nerves,” said Mobile defender Mikey Conneh. “Once we conceded the two goals, the bounce back was good. We managed to get over that as a team.”

The bounce back for AFC Mobile began as a bit of nice combination work between Chisom Ogbonna and Conneh, as Ogbonna opened the left flank for Conneh to dribble down the wing, cut in, and finish a powerful ball from the touchline through the goalkeeper’s legs and into the far post in the 18th minute, breathing signs of life back into the Azaleas.

“I really didn’t expect to get the goal through the run,” stated Conneh, “but it was great that I did and the fans were absolute class as always, so it was a special moment for me to score my first goal in Mobile.”

A bit later, in the 22nd minute, Tilman Schober played Arad Lev-Ari into the box where he dribbled through the Rangers’ Kyle Kimbrell and Jordan Sinclair before softly finishing near post to pull the match even.

The frenetic pace of the match continued and in the 42nd as the Rangers found themselves with another dangerous opportunity when Sinclair delivered a long out-swinging corner to the head of Kearney, who played it to Livenu. Livenu delivered a powerful, on-frame header, causing Mobile goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben to make a difficult save to keep the match even going into the half.

Returning to the match all equal at 2-2, David Hall found himself played into an opening by Sinclair. A quick pull-back, followed by an outside the foot touch to find room for himself, had the Canadian bury a shot in the far-side’s upper ninety to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the 51st minute. Then, in the 67th minute, Hall was played a similar ball into similar space and found himself as a hat-trick hero for the Eastern Shore team, giving them a big 4-2 lead.

But Mobile, as they are apt to do, would not go away. In the 71st minute after a good bit of ball movement, the Azaleas finally opened up a solid Rangers backline. Sam Blackburn was played through and brought down in the penalty area. Ibrahima Ndaw converted the penalty against his brother, Rangers goalkeeper Barou Ndaw, but was injured on the shot and pulled from the game after bringing the score to 4-3.

Though Mobile frantically tried to pull back an equalizer, the Rangers’ stout defense was able to absorb pressure and walk out of Mobile with a nerve-wracking 4-3 victory, 3 points, and the top-of-the-table in GCPL’s Eastern Conference.

“We feel pretty disappointed in the locker room right now,” said Conneh, “with those early goals we feel that we gifted Rangers the game.”

Following other matches around the league, AFC Mobile sits in third place behind the Gulf Coast Rangers and Tallahassee Soccer Club who pulled out a dominant 3-1 win over Port City FC. The Azaleas are level with Tallahassee on points, but 1 goal behind the Battle Lions on goal differential in the second tie-breaker, having drawn against them 2-2 earlier in the season.

This week, AFC Mobile will travel all the way to Tallahassee, Florida to take on Tallahassee SC. The match kicks off at 7:00 PM CDT (8:00 p.m. EDT) at the Florida State University SportsPlex in Tallahassee, FL.  

Mobile returns to The Lip on Saturday, June 22nd to take on Hattiesburg FC at 7:00 p.m.