Kings Hammer FC leaves early Thursday to head to Jackson, Mississippi, to take on Brilla FC on Friday in the USL League Two playoffs. The club will have time to practice upon their arrival after a long bus trip down south. Here is a quick look at the eight teams that make up the Central Division Playoffs.
- Des Moines Menace (11-1-0) — The Heartland Division champions have lost one match in division play since 2018. That loss was to Chicago United this season in a 2-0 contest on June 30. Des Moines has three players that have five goals this season. Nill Ayats, Sebastian Andreassen,and Kingsford Adjei are all tied for the lead in team goals with five apiece. Another impressive stat is that Des Moines has only given up seven goals in 12 matches. The Heartland Division isn’t as strong as the Great Lakes Division, but there are a couple solid teams in the division.
- Kalamazoo FC (10-1-3) — Kalamazoo had a near-flawless campaign in its first USL League Two season. Coach Shane Lyons did a fantastic job throughout the season of managing players’ minutes to carry them through the season. Kalamazoo also had the benefit of defender Adrian Lara being on its back line and Cyrus Harmon scoring seven goals in only 524 minutes played. Kalamazoo has a long road trip to Mississippi to play Corpus Christi in the first round.
- Mississippi Brilla FC (8-2-3) — Brilla FC clinched the Mid South Division and will host Kings Hammer FC in the first round of the tournament. Brilla has three offensive threats on its roster. Ciro Damine has seven goals on the year. Jalen James and James Ndubueze both have five goals on the season. Alejandro Chavarria will more than likely be the starting keeper for Brilla. In 900 minutes he has allowed a total of six goals according to the USL League Two website. Brilla has been around for 15 years and played in the Semifinals in 2017. They have also qualified for the U.S. Open Cup on four separate occasions.
- Chicago FC United (9-1-2) — United is a former champion of the Great Lakes Division (2019) but returned to the Heartland Division this season. Diego Gutierrez is its biggest offensive threat. Gutierrez has seven goals and five assists. Chicago used a goalkeeper-by-committee system this year, but Paul Kruse played the majority of the matches with 10 games played. Kruse gave up five goals and made 31 saves. Chicago could be a dark horse that could come out of its side of the bracket.
- Flint City Bucks (9-3-2) — The Bucks are the defending USL League Two Champions. Traditionally, as long as they get themselves into the playoffs, the Bucks are a contender. Some version of the Bucks have been around since 1996. They have four league championships, 14 division championships and 15 U.S. Open Cup trips. The Bucks ended the regular season with a 4-0 win over Oakland County. Amadou Cisse led the Bucks in scoring this season with six goals in seven matches. The real strength of the Bucks is the defense. They only gave up a total of 10 goals this season. They had six of 14 matches where they had clean sheets.
- Kings Hammer FC (8-2-4) — The Kings of the Queen City put together a solid campaign in one of the best divisions in USL Two. A third-place finish in the Great Lakes Division got them the sixth seed in the Central Conference. Offensive players to keep an eye on during this playoff run are Danny Barlow, Timmy Ennin and Luca Erhardt. It’s safe to assume that Jared Brown will be the starter in goal for the playoffs as long as he stays healthy.
- Corpus Christi FC (7-4-2) — The Sharks have a number of players with three goals this season. Corpus Christi has 11 players with at least one goal and nine players with an assist. The offensive output is spread out throughout this roster. This is Corpus Christi’s first trip to the playoffs. The word on the street is that Corpus Christi already has a number of players that have left the club for their college teams.
- Texas United (6-5-3) — Pol Monells is the standout player on the Texas United roster. The University of South Carolina Upstate Spartan has eight goals and five assists in the regular season. With the No. 8 seed, United has a tall order when it comes to trying to score against Des Moines stingy defense. It’s unclear as to who will be in goal for Texas United as it heads into the playoffs. Gonzalo Martinez started the last game of the season for United in a 1-0 victory over Houston FC.
Kings Hammer plays Mississippi Brilla FC at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday. Should Kings Hammer advance, it will play the winner of Kalamazoo and Corpus Christi FC, which starts at 6 p.m Eastern on Friday. We will take a deeper dive into Kings Hammer’s matchup on Friday.
The winners of the two first round matches will meet at 8 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.
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