M2 swings back into regular season action with tantilzing matchup as Crunch meets Muskegon

MUSKEGON, Michigan -- Major Arena Soccer League 2 will swing back into action in a big way this month, starting with a juicy matchup in Muuskegon where the Risers will host the reborn Cleveland Crunch Saturday at Mercy Health Arena.

The showdown is part of the Great Lakes Invitational, the third and last tournament-series format of games that helping to determine the four finalists for the M2 championship weekend set July 17 and 18 in Wichita. 

Winners of the three invitationals  held during the 2021 season will automatically earn postseason berths, as will the team remaining that hasn’t won an M2 tournament which has the highest winning percentage. The top four teams will be seeded based on overall win percentage of their minimum of 10 regular season matchups, with the number one seed facing the number four, and two versus three in the final four.

This means two teams, the Wichita Wings and Amarillo Bombers, have secured their spots in M2’s postseason, having already won the Heartland Invitational and Rocky Mount Invitationals which both recently came to a close.

With invitationals taking a more central role in determining playoff teams, an expanded Great Lakes Invitational, which originally involved the Muskegon Risers hosting M2 and M3 teams in March and April, will now determine the third postseason representative.

The Chicago Mustangs, Cleveland Crunch and Colorado Inferno will all play three games each as part of the expanded invitational series, with games in being played in Muskegon, Chicago, and Cleveland.

Saturday's game will count in the regular season standings for Cleveland, which crumbled Colorado in mid-March as the iconic indoor scccer franchise  returend to the turf for the first time in two decades with a vengance, scoring convincing wins over the Inferno.

Muskegon is not playing a full complement of M2 games this season due to Covid-19 restrictions, but unofficially is also 2-0 with wins over Milwaukee's Brew City Legends in late February, and over Fort Wayne FC in March. Both were "friendlies" held at Mercy Health Arena.

Depsite playing just two games so far, Cleveland's Mike Derezic is among M2's leading scorers, currently second in total points with 12 and second in goals with seven. Netminder Marijo Musa is second in the league in both goals against average (4.00) and save percentage (.813)

Tickets are available, starting as low as $7 for youngsters and $9 for adults, at muskegonrisers.com. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Next weekend, the Chicago Mustange make their return to the M2 ranks by hosting the Omaha Kings on April 10 and the Crunch on April 11. Each M2 team is playing a minimum of 10 games this spring, with standings being determined by winning percentage because of the potential uneven number of games each team will play.