Stometimes I wonder if the second tier of Buffalo sports - i.e. everything below Sabres and Bills - is where my sports gratification can be found. LIke the curse of Buffalo sports has somehow passed over that lower echelon, as if John Tavares put lamb's blood over everyone's door, saving them from a life of misery and regret. History seems to bear this out - the Bandits have had their share of glory years, UB Football went on their recent tear, and the Buffalo Destroyers were...oh, what's that? They were fucking awful, too? Well, so maybe my theory has a hole or two.
But, shitty arena football teams aside, (and also ignoring the fact that I conveniently avoided reference to the Buffalo Blizzard and the beloved Pikuzinski brothers), I am absurdly pumped to catch FC Buffalo's first attempt to make a run at US Open Cup glory. Some Buffalo sports fans limit themselves to the Big 2, dividing their remaining focus between out of market MLB or NBA squad, but not this guy. While each passing year makes me more liable to fully invest myself in the Mets, Knicks or Red Bull, teams from outside the 716 tend to exist at a distance for me, as if I can't feel they're truly mine unless they hail from Western New York.
Oh, and this movie was NOT hilarious. It blew. Plain and simple.
On paper, a win on Saturday night would be a seriously overachieving moment for the Blitzers. The team, in their first season last year, finished 3rd in their division. A good result for their first campaign, particularly since they snagged a win against FC Sonic, the division champion that finished with only one regular season loss. However, the infrastructure of football clubs, often brought about after years of development, are vital to successful programs. I can't imagine that it's any different for the lower level clubs within the NPSL. Despite the success of FC Buffalo in 2010, they enter this weekend ready to face a Brooklyn Italians team seeped in history. Some facts to consider:
1. Team was founded in 1949.
2. They've won the US Open Cup twice, in 1979 and 1991, prior to the introduction of professional sides into
3. They've played in the CONCACAF Cup Winners Cup and Champions Cup in 1991, following their US Open Cup
4. In addition to the team they operate within the NPSL, the club also has a few teams in the New York City
Cosmopolitan Soccer League.
5. Their team name ranks on the low side of the Barrister's "Racist Team Name Quotient," somewhere well below
the Redskins, but much higher than the Argonauts.
6. They play at a high school named for a badass pragmatist whose ideas still shape American education.
Taken together, these factors add up to a big hurdle for the Blitzers this weekend. The Italians are a club who has been there before, whose history acts as a daily inspiration for the players suiting up each game. And, with a developed infrastructure that is strong enough to support several teams, including youth squads. This infrastructure gives the Italians (GOD that's awkward to type) a potential surplus of talent from which to choose.
But, what I can say with some certainty - and until I see the teams match up, I can't say much of anything with certainty - is that me and the Yachtsman will be down in Brooklyn on Saturday night, that Joe from Buffalo Wins will also, I'm told, be there, and that there will likely be some other expats or Buffalo lovers in the crowd. There may even be some folks who've made the trip down from WNY. I guarantee that we will be at least a few beers deep, we'll be loud as hell, and we'll probably end up saying something offensive about whether the mob is sponsoring Brooklyn's team. So, as Nick Mendola's team makes the trip down to Kings County to play the Brooklyn Italians, they may not have history on their side, but they'll have Buffalo on their side, and maybe that'll be enough.
Gametime - 5 pm, John Dewey High School, right up the street.
If you're interested in linking up with us for the game, comment here or holler at @DGWUSports on the Twitter, and keep an eye out for tweets re: any venue changes in the event of some sprinkles, as well as game updates as the evening wears on.
In the meantime, Let's Go Buffalo.