Midfielder Mike Derezic has agreed to return for the 2016 season. Derezic debuted with the Royals last year and played an integral part not just in starting attacks, but in helping AFC Cleveland allow the fewest goals in the conference.
“He’s very good at possession, he’s great as a holding midfielder,” says Head Coach Carter Poe. “Super calm on the ball. I think he’s very important in helping the defense get the ball back.”
Derezic, who grew up in Lakewood, Ohio, had a successful career with the Cleveland State Vikings. His tenure included being named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team his freshman year. From there, Derezic would go on to become a staple in the Vikings lineup.
Last year, Derezic served as the Royals’ fulcrum and had a pivotal part in allowing AFC Cleveland to play its possession oriented style. As far as to why he chose to return, he says that both the coach and his teammates played a large role.
“I think one of the biggest thing as far as me getting back here with the guys is I really enjoyed Carter being coach and the group of guys we have is stout,” says Derezic. “I’m excited to get back to it.”
Just as important for him, however, is the chance to represent his city.
“It’s my city, it’s where I grew up,” he says. “Continuing representing the city means a lot to me.”
Given last year’s run to the Midwest Conference Final, Derezic believes the team now has the experience to allow the team to go even farther this season.
“Now that we’ve gained the experience and know what the conference is about, I definitely think the sky is the limit for us as long as we work hard,” he says.
Fans can see Mike Derezic and the rest of the Royals back in action on May 14, when he suits up for AFC Cleveland’s 2016 NPSL home opener against Indy Eleven NPSL.