FC Buffalo Wins Preseason Friendly 3-1

This past Saturday at 4 p.m., our local soccer club began its season with a friendly at Genesee Community College. Happily, FC Buffalo opened with a win, defeating the GCC Cougars 3-1.  Despite the match being a preseason game and being at GCC, just outside of Batavia, FC Buffalo still had fans make the trek to support them, bringing with them drums, a massive flag and all manner of cheer-enabling paraphernalia.

The game opened quickly with Casey Derkacz scoring only three minutes in off of a corner kick by Brian Knapp.  The early pressure seemed to get to the Cougars, who were a bit sloppy continuing into the half.  As FCB pressed, the GCC defense seemed a half step behind causing them to commit some poor fouls.  This would eventually bite them as FCB built the lead off of a free kick in the 20th minute.  Kendell McFayden took the kick from about 40-yards out from goal, curving it across the box away from the keeper, who got a hand on it but couldn’t reel it in, allowing Kyle Rogers to tap home the rebound near the far post.

As the half continued, GCC seemed to lock things down significantly, keeping good defensive positioning and not allowing FCB forwards the space to make good runs.  Partly this may have been FCB relaxing after getting up early.  Several times FCB players tried to make moves with speed on the GCC defensive line, but never managed to beat any defenders one-on-one.  The closest they came was in approximately the 40th minute when McFayden got free in the middle but lost his balance after making some contact with the GCC defender on his way past.  The contact could have been called a foul but fortunately for GCC, the referee didn’t see it that way, so the half would end with FCB up 2-0, with both goals off of set pieces.

The FCB loyal were clearly happy with the half, generally making a lot of noise, singing songs, including a chant “For Our City.”  During half time, about 20 of them made a large circle behind the stands to kick around a couple soccer balls and enjoy the sunshine (though it was still a bit chilly with the breeze).

The second half saw a the game loosen up a bit with some exiting back and forth play.  In the 50th minute, GCC’s Darius Johnson made a nice move down the right sideline and hit his man crossing through the middle for a dangerous opportunity near the end line, though all GCC ended up getting out of it was a corner kick attempt.  Rogers continued to make his presence known, stepping smartly and jumping several GCC passing routes through the midfield.  Despite breaking up a few plays and taking possession, he never managed to do much with his possession after the fact though, getting pinned in the corner on one advance and being dispossessed through the middle on another.  The difficulty advancing the ball was partly because of the lack of space GCC was giving playing a very high line and 4 across the back. 

Perhaps to combat this and change up the pace, FCB coach Brendan Murphy switched the physical McFayden from defense to forward for a few minutes starting around the 60th minute.  The strategy seemed to work as FCB pressed better and had several good chances including two corner kicks in a row in the 68th minute.  However, it would actually be GCC who would score from a corner on the ensuing counter attack.  The corner was played short and floated by the second man to the top the 6-yard box where it was headed into the far corner.

However, FCB would press back, regaining a two-goal lead in the 79th minute finding McFayden at the top of the box.  McFayden’s shot deflected but still went in.  GCC never really regained any pressure after that and FCB would maintain the lead for the victory.

After the game, fans and players alike attended the official after party at Batavia Downs, an appropriate location considering that Batavia Down is one of FC Buffalo’s main sponsors.  Either way, a good time was had by all.  FC Buffalo opens the regular season at home against Cincinnati on May 16.