Author: Robert Creenan
Another spring, another season coming up for Buffalo’s hometown soccer team, FC Buffalo.
FC Buffalo currently plays in the Great Lakes Conference, in the semi-professional National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the 4th tier of the American soccer system. The three leagues above the NPSL are Major League Soccer (MLS), the North American Soccer League (NASL), and the United Soccer League (USL). Some of the teams they regularly play against are in Erie PA, Cleveland, Detroit, Dayton, Grand Rapids, and Lafayette, Indiana, and Pittsburgh.
“Last year was a good season for almost everyone,” said Nick Mendola, the team President and writer for NBCSports Pro Soccer Talk. “We deserved to make the playoffs on our talent and skill, but we didn’t take advantage of all their opportunities. An unbalanced schedule didn’t help either. It was disappointing, but ultimately the team played well.”
FC Buffalo enters every season expecting to make a playoff run and they very much expect that this year. “It takes a lot of work and we’ve committed a lot of time and resources to make this happen,” Mendola said. The best finish the team had was in 2013, Coach Brendan Murphy’s first season. They went 8-5, were ranked among the best teams in the league, and made the playoffs, though lost in the first round to Erie Admirals SC. It was as Mendola called it, “A learning experience.”
The best two players are some that have been around a long time – Chris Walter and Kendall McFayden. Walter has played 50 games for the team and has been with FB Buffalo since the second season. His style is described as aggressive and fierce. “He represents the mentality the team wants,” Mendola said. McFayden used to play for the professional Rochester Rhinos of the USL. He was on NPSL best 11 last year, and for a team that didn’t make playoffs that says something.
Mendola tells fans to stay tuned for new players. Jamie O’Grady is coming from Hartwick College, Scotland and Liverpool in the Falkirk F.C. youth system. He scored 11 goals in college this year. “He’s a big target forward, strong, plays in the perceived generalizations of strong Scottish players,” Mendola said. Keith Traut, a big defender from the University of Albany, will also join soon. He earned first-team all-league for the America East conference this past season. “He’s a smart heady player – excited to have him in the fold,” Mendola added.
See roster and comments from Coach Murphy.
FC Buffalo will play at All-High stadium this year after spending a year away from the stadium due to some restructuring within the organization. The team is excited to be back, and is looking forward to providing an amazing fan experience. “There are covered seats for the fans – we’re bringing in a bunch of food trucks, and we got a supporters’ group in The Situation Room,” Mendola said. “They sing traditional soccer songs, but make the words about the team. In NPSL, we’re one of the best teams for a home experience. If they could sell alcohol at All-High, it would be the best place on earth. The only other issue is the football lines on the field.”
Once FC Buffalo has a building where they’re allowed to sell alcohol, there’s no question that fully professional soccer, the next step up for us, can thrive.
Buffalo is mighty lucky to have Mendola on the ground running for FC Buffalo (figuratively). Aside from his unwavering passion for promoting the game of soccer in Buffalo, he also works for NBCSports Pro soccer talk website as a writer. As someone who’s written for a large organization, he feels that “Buffalo is a very good soccer market that’s gotten very strong nods of approval. When the Men in Blazers (of NBCSN’s Men in Blazers) came to town, they were very impressed with how Buffalo responds to soccer. We get very good TV ratings for soccer matches. Once FC Buffalo has a building where they’re allowed to sell alcohol, there’s no question that fully professional soccer, the next step up for us, can thrive.”