Defenders Chris Cvecko, Coletun Long and Declan McGivern join goalkeepers Anthony Flowers and Alex Ivanov in announcing their return to the AFC Cleveland Royals squad in 2017.
Chris Cvecko was crucial in the Royals’ run to the 2016 NPSL championship and will bring his versatility and relentless style back to the club for a second season. In the offseason, the Erie, PA native participated in the Midwest Pro Soccer Combine to build on recent awards such as being named 2015 UAA Most Valuable Player with Case Western Reserve University.
Coletun Long will begin his third season with the club after being named to the 2016 All-NPSL Second Team. He made 10 regular season and three postseason appearances with the club during that year. Long, who is from Kent, OH, was also named to the Atlantic 10 and All-Ohio All-Academic Team with the University of Dayton in 2016.
Long has become a crucial piece in the center of the Royals’ suffocating defense. He credited the system implemented by 2016 Head Coach Carter Poe as a main reason for the club’s defensive successes last season.
“I think the defensive unit bought into the system Coach Carter implemented allowed us to be successful and only allow about a goal against average per game,” said Long.
Long also believes the club’s distinct advantage playing at Stan Skoczen Stadium will be key to the Royals’ playoff hopes.
“I think we take pride in protecting our home field. Consistently throughout the past two years, our home stadium has been a place that not many visiting teams collect points. We like it that way. If we can continue our form at home, our chances at the playoffs look very bright,” said Long.
McGivern returns having made four playoff and six regular season appearances during the Royals’ 2016 championship campaign. McGivern, a native of Huddersfield, England, is also in his first year as a graduate assistant coach for the Ashland University men’s soccer program.
Anthony Flowers announces his return as goalkeeper for a fourth season with AFC Cleveland. He appeared eight times with the Royals during the 2016 regular season and also made four playoff appearances, including as the starting GK in the NPSL National Championship game. Flowers was named to the NPSL Second Team Supporters’ XI and MVP of the 2016 NPSL Midwest Region Playoffs. Flowers also plays for the Dayton Flyers with Coletun Long, where they won the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship.
Flowers expects to carry last season’s successes into AFC Cleveland’s 2017 campaign.
“My expectations for this upcoming year would be to build upon what we did last year. It was such a great run to win the whole thing and I definitely feel we have the talent and ability to continue with our success and really build AFC Cleveland up as a consistent contender coming out of the Midwest,” said Flowers.
Alex Ivanov, a former Ohio State goalkeeper from Strongsville, OH, will also return for his fifth season with the club. Ivanov appeared regularly with the Royals between 2013 and 2015, and he served as an assistant coach during the 2016 season while sidelined with an injury.
Fans can see Cvecko, Long, McGivern, Flowers, Ivanov and the rest of the Royals back in action on May 13, when they kick off AFC Cleveland’s 2017 NPSL home opener against Dayton Dynamo.