Season Recap: Ups, Downs, and Everything in Between
With the opening rounds of the PDL Playoffs concluded, all that remains is for the final four teams to face off for the championship. The season has been long, and once again, Peachtree City MOBA find themselves on the outside looking in. While the 2017 campaign did not go as planned, year two did hold a long list of positives for the seasons to come.
During the offseason, MOBA made a number of big acquisitions, including Jamaican internationals goalkeeper Nick Nelson and midfielder Khallil Stewart, Trinidad and Tobago international midfielder Matthew Wooling, University of Dayton standout defender Michael Brezovsky, and former Memphis City talent Santiago Moore. Alongside returning players like Todd Fidler, Adam Sheikali, and Salomon Lorenzano, the 2017 roster seemed well set to make a run, and hopes were high throughout the pre-season as MOBA walked through their three match schedule. Securing a home and away win against Georgia Revolution FC and another home victory against East Point Pumas, MOBA dominated their warmups by an aggregate score of 14-3, but everything came crashing down with the start of the regular season.
Right from the opening whistle, the bitter feeling that 2017 would bring began to set in. Facing Nashville SC U23 in the season opener on the road, MOBA gave up five goals in the first fifty minutes. The yellow and black were able to get one back when Matthew Wooling scored his first MOBA goal, but Nashville added another just moments later, and MOBA fell 6-1, tied for the largest loss in club history (MOBA lost to Carolina Dynamo in the season finale last season by a score of 6-1). A loss of that magnitude would have been detrimental to just about any team, but MOBA did not let it faze them. On the road against rivals South Georgia Tormenta FC, Costa Rican midfielder Daniel Valenciano scored a headed effort to equalize right after the half, and MOBA were able to salvage their first point of the season. With form seemingly on the up and up heading back to Peachtree City, Mississippi Brilla FC came along to spoil the party. A home opener 2-0 loss to Brilla FC kick started a five-match league losing run that included four straight one-goal losses. The streak didn't come without positives however, as MOBA were able to secure a 3-1 friendly victory against Atlanta Silverbacks FC of the NPSL during the stretch.
Sitting at 0-6-1 halfway through the season with their only victories coming in friendly matches, Peachtree City were desperate to finally get in the win column. The task was not going to be easy, however, as MOBA were back on the road against Nashville who were sitting at the top of the division table at 5-1-3. With revenge and momentum on the mind, against all odds, MOBA were able to secure both in dramatic fashion. After Todd Fidler and Matthew Wooling put the road side up two early, Nashville clawed back right after halftime with Fletcher Ekern's equalizer. A tie seemingly inevitable, defender Michael Brezovsky snuck forward from his center back position and became the hero, heading in the eighty-fourth minute winner. Nashville nearly equalized again, however, but Ekern sent his stoppage time penalty kick off the crossbar, and MOBA escaped Nashville with a 3-2 win. That win began a 2-1-1 stretch of success that included a home victory against Tri-Cities thanks to Edmundo Robinson's late strike, and a road draw against Brilla FC where Fidler scored four minutes into stoppage to claim the point. With a strong finish still within reach, MOBA dropped the final three matches of the year and finished the season 2-10-2, last place in the South Atlantic Division.
While a 2-10-2 season holds a lot of negatives, there were a few bright spots. Midfielder/forward Todd Fidler became Peachtree City MOBA's all-time leading scorer with five career goals, surpassing Omar Jarun who had three. Edmundo Robinson secured his name in yellow and black history, as the breakout star scored four goals on the season, a MOBA season record. Defenders Salomon Lorenzano and Adam Sheikali, both Peachtree City natives, became the first Peachtree City players to record twenty PDL appearances when both players started against Tri-Cities on June 27th. On the award front, Michael Brezovsky took home the 2017 #MOBAProud Man of the Year Award after a stellar season, winning the award with an unprecendented 77% of the overall vote. Looking forward to 2018, Peachtree City have very high expectations, and competing for the division title will be right at the top of the list.
Around the PDL
- At the top of the South Atlantic, Myrtle Beach Mutiny took home the division crown in their first season in the PDL, and the Charlotte Eagles were able to steal the second playoff spot from Nashville on the final day of the regular season thanks to a 4-1 road victory against North Carolina FC U23. The Eagles would go on to become Eastern Conference champions for the first time in club history, beating Seacoast United 4-1 in the semifinals off Joao Costa's four goals and the Long Island Rough Riders in the championship match 1-1 (4-2 PK).
- In the Southern Conference, it was MOBA's Mississippi rivals Brilla FC who captured the conference title, upsetting SIMA Aguilas in the semifinals and FC Miami City in the final. Brilla FC boast an 81-46-35 all-time regular season record including four division titles, but 2017 was their first conference title.
- In the Central Conference, reigning PDL champions Michigan Bucks were upset in the semifinals by the Des Moines Menace 2-0, but the Menace were then defeated by the Thunder Bay Chill, one of the most successful PDL clubs in history, and arguably the most successful PDL team based in Canada. 2017 marks Thunder Bay's fifth conference title.
- Out on the west coast, young side FC Golden State Force won the Western Conference title after defeating Portland Timbers U23 in the semifinals and upsetting the Fresno Fuego in the final. The Fuego were the favorites to win the conference this season, being historically one of the best teams in the league, but the Force were able to shock the league after losing in the semifinals last season.