BY GARRETT CRAIG
FLINT CITY WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR
Flint, Mich. –The Flint City Bucks made their fifth year in Flint count, while rejuvenated women’s side Flint City AFC announced themselves as national contenders.
Thousands of soccer fans and families from across Flint, Genesee County and beyond filed into Kettering University’s iconic Atwood Stadium for 17 exciting home matches.
Under first-year head coach Paul Doroh, the Bucks (19-2-1) won their USL league-record 10th conference title. Flint City defeated Des Moines Menace in the Central Conference championship game for the second consecutive year.
GET YOUR MSN GEAR NOW
To qualify for the playoffs for an unprecedented 25th time in 27 seasons, the Bucks dominated the Great Lakes Division. They claimed their first division title of the Flint era and their 15th overall, which is another USL league record.
The Bucks nearly achieved their first unbeaten regular season, falling in a thunderstorm-shortened road game in Lansing on Match day 11.
In the first playoff weekend, the Bucks traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and emerged from what many USL fans labeled the “Group of Death”. They defeated previously unbeaten Valley Division champions and hosts Fort Wayne FC, then dusted off Heartland Division champions and USL2 national No. 2 seed Chicago City SC.
A big reward followed, as Flint City was selected to host the conference championship and national semifinal rounds back at Atwood Stadium. With home supporters out in force, the Bucks added a celebratory chapter to their long-standing rivalry with the Menace, walking away with an impressive 2-0 victory.
The following Sunday against Western Conference winners Ballard FC of Seattle, the Bucks fell 1-0, narrowly missing a chance to play for a fifth national title. Although the semifinal proved to be a stumbling block, the eventual national champion has now had to defeat the Bucks in three consecutive seasons.
The Bucks now have 38 all-time postseason victories in league play. We once again proved to be the team to beat en route to USL2 glory.
This year, Flint City also claimed its first ever Gerhard Mengel State Cup, winning four single-elimination matches en route to the tournament crown.
Beyond competitive success, our players have once again reminded the world of our club’s commitment to developing future professionals.
Major League Soccer teams selected three more Bucks players in the annual MLS SuperDraft, keeping us the world’s only club to send a player to MLS every year since the SuperDraft began in 1999. Ninety-seven Bucks have now been drafted or signed in that span, with more than 200 signing professional contracts worldwide.
After an incredible 2022 season with Flint City, fan-favorites Emeka Eneli and Isaac Walker have begun making their marks in the pro ranks. Eneli signed a first-team contract with Real Salt Lake and broke through as a regular for the Western Conference contenders. After signing with Charlotte FC, goalkeeper Walker became the first-choice starter for reserve side Crown Legacy FC. He also won the Goalie Wars competition on national TV at this year’s MLS All-Star Skills Challenge.
Henry Mosquera, a Columbian who played for Flint City in 2021, also completed a transfer to Red Bull Bragantino of the Brazilian Série A.
Flint City AFC (9-1-3), a founding member of USL W League, stunned the competition with an incredible second-season turnaround this summer.
Under first-year head coach Michele Krzisnik, the Flint City women clinched the Great Lakes Division title June 17, becoming the first USL W team to qualify for the playoffs. They finished the regular season as one of just five unbeaten teams.
AFC was rewarded with the opportunity to host Central Conference postseason rounds at historic Atwood. We welcomed Indy Eleven, Minnesota Aurora, and Chicago City SC for three incredible matches, including Flint City AFC’s hardfought loss to Indy Eleven, who eventually were crowned as national champions.
Krzisnik was named USL W League Coach of the Year. She and her staff — associate head coach Doug Landefeld, plus assistants Dennis Darnoi and Shannon Browning — recruited and developed exceptional talent on this year’s Flint City AFC roster.
Our women’s team was packed with NCAA Division I talent, elite high-school recruits, Genesee County natives, and more than a dozen players who returned from the inaugural Flint City AFC campaign in 2022. Midfielder Bella Gaetino, a North Carolina 2024 commit, was named to the USL W League’s Team Of The Year First Team slate and forward Olivia Thomas, an incoming freshman at North Carolina is already turning heads with an all time UNC speed record, early season scoring and reported interest from the US Women’s National Team.