The 2018 Michigan Milk Cup’s new format welcomed four new clubs to the competition Force FC of Bloomfield, Livonia City FC, Oakland County FC and Muskegon Risers. Clubs were paired for 2-leg matches with a two pot system. Interestingly enough, returning participant Grand Rapids FC was paired with newcomer, Muskegon Risers. As both clubs reside on the Western Part of the state, this matchup is perhaps the most anticipated first round pairing of the competition.
Grand Rapids FC, NPSL Great Lakes Conference Champion in 2016, enters its fourth season in club history. Though a relatively young club, GRFC has quickly become a staple in the national amateur soccer landscape as their home matches draw more than 2,000 fans on average. GRFC is a club with one US Open Cup appearance under their belt and continuously retains one of the nations most competitive rosters often populated with local talent from the Grand Rapids area.
Though Muskegon Risers participate in what some view as a weaker Amatuer Leage in the UPSL summer season, the Risers perhaps have the Milk Cup’s largest soccer footprint as they are the only club that competes year-round. Founded in 2014, Muskegon Risers made a name for themselves in the indoor soccer world. After campaigning as an independent, they have now joined the MASL’s second division. Today, Muskegon competes year-round (indoor/outdoor) and have a roster of players that have played together for multiple seasons.
“We are excited to play Muskegon in a competitive match for the first time. We have played friendlies to prepare for other competitions but this will be a great showcase for west Michigan soccer,” said Matt Roberts, GRFC President.
“I truly think we have some of the best teams in the country at the division four level here in Michigan and to give those teams the ability to prove who is the best each season will be a lot of fun for all involved.”
Grand Rapids FC are set to host Muskegon Risers Saturday, May 19th at Houseman Field. It will then be a quick turnaround as the clubs are set to play the second leg in Muskegon Friday, May 25.
Only 40 miles separate these very established clubs. On paper, the difference in this matchup will likely come down to the depth of GRFC. Muskegon’s only matches during this 2-Leg stretch are against GRFC. Grand Rapids, however plays an NPSL match against Indiana FC on May 18th (one day prior to the first leg match) as well as an NPSL match on May 27th (two days after the second leg match). Grand Rapids FC Head Coach, Lewis Robinson, has a lot to manage and his roster decisions for these matches are very important considering the matchup against a much fresher Muskegon Risers side.