Goalkeepers Alex Ivanov and Anthony Flowers would be returning for the 2016 season, as well as defender Coletun Long. The three players formed part of the 2015 Royals side that allowed only 10 goals during the regular season, tied for least in the Midwest Region.
Although Alex Ivanov is returning for his second season with the team, he will find himself in new role. Currently recovering from a leg injury, Ivanov will serve as a coach for the other goalkeepers in addition to being a player. Anthony Flowers, who is a member of the Dayton Flyers squad, will also be returning for what will be his fourth season with the team. Head Coach Carter Poe is glad to have him back.
“He’s a solid player, he works hard, he’s always positive, [and has a] good attitude. We’re just glad to have him back,” says Poe.
Coletun Long, originally from Kent, Ohio, will be returning for his third season with the Royals. Long has collegiate experience playing for Niagara University Purple Eagles and is coming off winning the 2015 Atlantic 10 Tournament with the University of Dayton Flyers. According to Long, AFC Cleveland has a bright season ahead.
“The level of play at AFC Cleveland is so high, especially coming off the year we had last year,” says Long. “I think we can repeat, get back there and hopefully go even farther because I think our team has the talent to go that far and I think it has the will to go that far.”
Carter Poe believes Long’s leadership will bring stability to the rest of the backline, especially since he leads by example.
“He’s a solid player, he’s a leader. I think he trains very well,” says Poe. “I think other players are looking at him as kind of an anchor in the backline.”
Fans can see Flowers, Ivanov, Long and the rest of their teammates defending the Royals’ colors on May 14, when AFC Cleveland takes on Indy Eleven NPSL for its 2016 home opener.