Midfielders Brian Potocnik and Ryan Ware join forward Ryder Bell in announcing their return to AFC Cleveland for the 2017 NPSL season.
Potocnik rejoins the Royals having made the All-NPSL First Team in 2016. Potocnik excelled in his first season with the club, scoring five times and assisting once in all competitions.
After getting off to a quick start 2016 and helping the club reach its first NPSL National Championship, Potocnik, from Aurora, OH, has not changed his approach for 2017.
“Our expectations for the 2017 season are no different than in previous years; we want a national championship,” said Potocnik. “After experiencing the most successful season in club history last year, I think expecting anything other than another title would be selling ourselves short.”
Ryder Bell will also be returning for his second season with AFC Cleveland after contributing two goals in ten club appearances, highlighted by tallying the fourth and final goal in the National Championship. ‘
In addition to his services as a Royal, Bell, a Westlake, OH native, has been a standout at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. Bell finished his sophomore season with nine goals in 19 appearances and was named Second-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association.
Bell, only 19 years old, hopes to repeat this season and take his own game to the next step in 2017 with the Royals.
“Last year was my first year with AFC Cleveland, and obviously from a team perspective it couldn’t have gone any better,” said Bell. “Personally, I want to become a better soccer player and play a larger role in the team this year.”
Bell also looks forward to rejoining his teammates and representing the city he grew up in.
“Everyone is able to feed off of everyone else’s successes; It’s an added bonus that I get to do that in my home and the best city in the world,” said Bell.
Ryan Ware will also rejoin the club in 2017, and carries with him an attacking and creative mindset to the club in his second season. Ware captivated AFC Cleveland fans last season when he connected from distance in what proved to be a deciding goal in a 2-0 home victory against FC Buffalo.
Ware, originally from Leighton Buzzard, England, brings professional European experience having developed in the youth systems of Wycombe Wanderers and Watford FC, as well as playing professionally with Aldershot Town. Ware, along with Royals teammate Declan McGivern, was crucial in helping Notre Dame College win the MEC Regular Season Championship in 2013, and he was also named to the DII CCA Men’s Soccer All-Atlantic Region Team in 2015.
The Royals begin their title defense at Stan Skoczen Stadium against Dayton Dynamo Saturday, May 13 at 7:00 pm. Season and single-game tickets are now available at afccleveland.com/tickets.