Photo Credit: Brent Durken / 6th City Photography
The Royals’ squad continues to take shape as Admir Suljevic and Mike Derezic announce their return for another NPSL season with AFC Cleveland in 2017. The midfield duo and childhood friends achieved the ultimate success in 2016 by winning the NPSL National Championship, and expect similar results in 2017.
“My expectations for this upcoming season are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. We take one game at a time,” said Derezic. “Work on things that need improvement and good things will come.”
Suljevic served as club captain last season and was critical in organizing the team’s attack. Appearing in 13 matches in 2016, he found the net twice while also tallying two assists. In addition to appearing on the stats sheet, Suljevic also brings added value with his excellent vision and established chemistry with his teammates to help keep possession.
This chemistry is most apparent with Royals midfielder Mike Derezic. The two midfielders started playing together at the youth level with Croatia Cleveland, an indoor soccer club, and then were teammates at Cleveland State for three seasons.
Derezic made 14 appearances with the Royals in 2016, where he was deployed deeper in the midfield to help connect the defense and attack. Derezic established himself as a terrific two-way player – able to win the ball at the defensive end and pick out passes down the field to start the attack.
Derezic highlights his relationship with Suljevic as critical to the team’s success, but underscores the chemistry he’s developed with the rest of his teammates over the past two seasons.
“We have faith in all of our teammates to step right in and do the job. Doesn’t matter who we line up with,” said Derezic.
While at Cleveland State, Suljevic was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team his freshman season and First-Team All-Horizon League in his sophomore, junior, and senior years despite missing half of the Vikings’ season his senior year. Derezic was also named to the All-Newcomer Team his freshman season and became a mainstay in the Viking lineup the rest of his collegiate career.
Admir, Mike and the Royals will be back in action Saturday, May 13 at Stan Skoczen Stadium against Dayton Dynamo. Tickets are now available afccleveland.com/tickets