Back-to-back home games present a chance for a strong start for Akron City FC

Akron City FC is preparing to take on Steel City FC in the clubs third game of the season

Writer: Sideline and Beat Reporter, Cade Cracas

Akron, Ohio- As a new season moves through another week of action, fans have every reason to be on the edge of their seats.

Akron City FC (ACFC) vs. Steel City FC (SCFC) appears to be one of the top showdowns in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). The two sides will go toe-to-toe on Friday, May 31, with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m.

With an impressive 6-0 win over Michigan Rangers FC last weekend for ACFC, the club is riding high on confidence as they prepare to take on the No. 1 team in the league from the 2023 campaign.

Im expecting us to continue developing our cohesion as a group,said ACFC Head Coach Andy Hoggarth. The game will be a tough game and we know the high quality of Steel City FC.

I expect us to be prepared, organized and very competitive.

One of the key factors contributing to ACFCs early success is the strategic offseason acquisitions that have bolstered the clubs roster.

In the most recent win against Michigan Rangers FC, forwards Sam Sarver and Stefan Dobrojevic were able to find the back of the net. Both joined the team in the offseason.

The incoming players have integrated themselves into the team seamlessly, with energy and intensity being a focal point for the team.

At the halftime break in the teams game this past weekend, Hoggarth praised that the displayed intensity has brought success on both ends of the pitch.

I think everyone from one to eleven responded. Last week we said the work rate was there but we couldnt take our chances,” he said. “I think we have upped the work rate and had two good finishes.

They went on to score four more goals in the second half, en route to the dominating six-goal game.

Alongside the offensive successes, the defensive line has been fortified to start the year. With Danilo Bakocs arrival and Dan OCallaghans return, the center-back positions have been stout. Their leadership and knowledge of the game have brought stability to a backline that flustered in years past.

 I think its been the entire team defending as a unit and committing to the job in hand,Hoggarth said. We will continue working on our defensive shape and hope to continue being a team that defends well.

Through the opening two games now, ACFC has amassed a 6-1 goal differential and a 1-1 overall record.

Steel City FC

On the opposite side of things, the team traveling on the road is 2-1-0 on the year. With no losses, SCFC is no team to overlook.

In the clubs two opening games, the team dominated.

They defeated Flower City Union in back-to-back games with the scorelines favoring SCFC 3-0 and 5-0. After two stellar games, they drew in their most recent game against Erie Commodores, 1-1.

Through three games, SCFCs goal differential is an impressive 9-1, with seven league table points being secured.

Last season, they were widely regarded as one of the best teams in the league. 

Through 12 games, they lost none en route to a 10-2-0 record. The record secured them 32 league points, a Midwest championship, an impressive streak through the NPSL playoffs and a birth into the U.S. Open Cup.

With such achievements under their belt from last year, this season is projected to be another strong stint for the club.

However, even with ACFC staring into the eyes of a giant, they are unafraid of the opportunity ahead of them.

This is a big test, Steel City has been the top dog in our conference the past two years and has returned a lot of core players,ACFC Owner Nick Turchan said. I expect us to come out and compete.

"With that said, it is a home game in a short season so we are expecting points.

As each game passes, ACFC continues to keep its eyes on the goal of making a mark on the NPSL this season.

The game between SCFC and ACFC will occur at Green Street Stadium on the St. Vincent-St. Mary High School campus in Akron, Ohio. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. EST

Ive said it before and I'll say it again, you will not be able to find higher-level soccer to watch in this area, especially with Steel City coming to town,Turchan said. If you are an adult looking to do something fun with friends or your significant other, come check us out and have a beer while watching the game with our supporters group.

 If you have kids who play the sport, watching the game played at a high level is just as important to development as practicing multiple times a week."

Current Midwest Great Lakes Standings

1. Steel City FC: 7 Pts, 2-1-0
2. Cleveland SC: 6 Pts, 2-0-0
3. AKRON CITY FC: 3 Pts, 1-0-1
4. Michigan Rangers FC: 3 Pts, 1-0-1
5. Flower City Union: 3 Pts, 1-0-2
6. Erie Commodores: 1 Pt, 0-1-0
7. SIGFC: 0 Pts, 0-0-2
8. Niagara 1812: 0 Pts, 0-0-1