Cleveland proving to be an offensive juggernaut in return to professional indoor soccer scene
When the Cleveland Crunch host Omaha Mother’s Day weekend, they’ll do so as the undisputed offensive juggernaut of the Major Arena Soccer League 2 season.
The Crunch’s impressive relaunch into professional indoor soccer after a 20 year absence includes four of the league’s top five point scorers so far in 2021. Cleveland has scored more goals than any team in the league despite playing just five games to date, and easily have the largest goal differential at plus 31.
Those stats took a big jump last weekend in a 14-2 win over Chicago, a neutral site game part of the Great Lakes Invitational series of games. Ryan Minnick scored twice, to give him 11 goals on the season, tied for the league lead with forward Mike Dezeric (who did not dress for the game). Dezeric tops all scorers with 14 point in just four games played.
Minnick is tied for second overall in points with 13 with Colorado’s Francisco Rivas, although the Inferno have already played eight games this spring. Admir Suljevic leads M2 in assists with six, and is tied for third in overall scoring with 11 points along with teammate Kevin Blackwood, who had the hat trick against the Mustangs, part of a six-point night.
Cleveland led 2-0 after one quarter, and 6-0 at halftime. Seven different players had at least two points each in the big team effort which resulted in a 45 shots on goal. The win averaged the lone blemish on the Crunch ledger this year, a 9-8 overtime loss to the Mustangs in Chicago on April 11. The two teams will meet one more time during the regular season on May 22 in Cleveland, a game with huge playoff implications.
It wasn’t just an offensive show April 24 at Muskegon’s Mercy Health Arena neutral site matchup, a game designated as part of the four-team GLI series of games that will determine one of the four 2021 playoff spots in the leagues championship weekend July 17 and 18 in Wichita. The team with the best record in their three GLI games will advance to the postseason. The Crunch presently are 2-0 in GLI games, while Chicago is 1-1 and Colorado 0-2. The fourth team in the series, Muskegon, is not playing a full schedule of games this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, and won’t be eligible for the post-season this season.
Cleveland goalkeep Marijo Musa was actually named the MetroHealth Man of the Match in the lopsided win as the Mustangs were able to fire 19 shots on goal, with Musa making 17 stops for an impressive .895 save percentage. He is tied for the league lead in goals against average at 3.33.
“We knew from literally the start that the Crunch would be putting a competitive team on the field, but I’m not sure anyone anticipated quite as much offense as they have been able to put together. It’s been impressive,” Commissioner Chris Economides noted. “And, they’ve been able to win close ones too. If they advance to the playoffs, and there is still work to be done since they’ve split their games so far against Chicago this year, they will be one of the favorites for a championship, which is all the more impressive since this is just year one of their comeback.”
Cleveland will be idle this weekend, but tickets for the May 8 and 9 games in North Olmsted are now on sale, and likely to sell out early, as have all the Crunch games to date. They are available at theclevelandcrunch.com/events.