By Geoff Smith, The Berkshire Eagle
After three-straight games on the road to open the USL League Two season, Black Rock FC makes its home debut Friday night at MCLA’s Shewcraft Field, when the team welcomes GPS Portland Phoenix to North Adams for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The game has been a long time coming for Black Rock FC, which played in Connecticut during its first year of operation. Now, the Berkshire-based club will get the chance to strut its stuff in the place it calls home.
“We’re excited. Last year, we were away from our youth community in the Berkshires where we wanted to be,” said Black Rock FC coach Jon Moodey. “We are really excited to open up. We hope we can get a good crowd out and give them something fun to watch and something to rally around this summer.”
The game is the first of two this weekend for Black Rock FC, which will also host Seacoast United on Saturday night. Tickets for home games are $10 for ages 18 and over, $5 for ages 12 to 17, and free for all kids under 12.
Black Rock FC enters the game with a 3-0-0 mark in the USL2’s Northeast Division, and holds the No. 2 spot in the league’s Eastern Conference power rankings. The team opened with a 3-0 win over Seacoast, then defeated GPS Portland 2-0. The team’s last game was on May 22, a 4-3 win over Boston Bolts.
“The team chemistry is good,” Moodey said of the team’s start. “We’ve been together, our mini-camps, the team spending time together, that’s enabled the team to be a team, to have trust in one another, to have some continuity on and off the field.”
In the 2-0 win over GPS Portland earlier this year, Ifunanyachi Achara opened the scoring in the first half on an assist from Ousseni Bouda, then Bouda scored in the second half to seal the win.
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The pairing have been lethal so far this season. Bouda has scored five goals through three games — including a hat trick against Boston — while Achara has two goals and one assist. In the USL2’s Top 50 Prospects list, Bouda — a Stanford commit for next year — is ranked No. 1, while Achara — who plays for Georgetown collegiately — is 13th.
Asked about the impact of Bouda, specifically, Moodey said: “He’s just a tremendous talent. He’s super humble, super centered. He doesn’t get too big in his head, he stays very focused on doing his role well, and has a great, coachable attitude. He’s a phenomenal talent and seems to find a way to score like great goalscorers.”
Bouda’s efforts in the win over Boston earned him a spot on the USL2’s Team of the Week.
In that win over Boston, Moodey said he was happy with how the team handled playing against a Bolts team that played with a ton of physicality and pressure.
“I will say the guys did show a lot of character and finished the game and got the three points,” Moodey said. “Three points is three points. It wasn’t a pretty one, but to get a result on the road in that kind of environment was encouraging. If we can have setbacks and still get three points, I’m happy.”
For the home opener, Black Rock FC is trying to make the atmosphere as family-friendly as possible. There will be a SoMa food truck serving up food, the team will hand out 20 posters for the first kids in, youth players from the county will walk out with the team for pregame intros, a halftime small-sided match featuring local youth players, a Ramunto’s pizza halftime giveaway, and a postgame meet-and-greet with the team. In addition, the roster will have a dash of local flavor as MCLA soccer player Garrett Derosia joined the team. Derosia will also sing the national anthem before the game starts.
“Our hope is that we have a good opener and can give people who take the time to come out something fun to see,” Moodey said, “and something to rally around this summer.”
Geoff Smith can be reached at email@example.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.
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