After dismantling the Chicago Mustangs last Saturday, 14-2, the Crunch finds itself sitting in second place in the M2. Their 4-1 record has them only a 1/2 game behind current leaders, the Wichita Wings. With five games remaining in this shortened season, the club is in a great position to advance to the playoffs.
There are two paths for the Crunch to reach the postseason. The first is to win the Great Lakes Invitational tournament, which consists of four teams: the Crunch, Chicago Mustangs, Muskegon Risers and Colorado Inferno. Of those four teams, only three will be eligible for postseason play since Muskegon will not be able to play the requisite 10 games (due to Covid-19 restrictions). As it stands, Cleveland has the best record in the Invitational at 2-0 while Chicago sits at 1-1 and Colorado at 0-2. The Crunch play host to the Mustangs on 5/22 at the Soccer Sportsplex in North Olmsted. With a win, Cleveland will clinch a berth in the playoffs. If the Crunch fails to win the Great Lakes Invitational, then they will have to finish with the best record among those teams that did not win a regional tournament.
The Crunch are not simply winning, they are making a statement. The team has unleashed a goal-scoring blitz on the rest of the league. They have scored an incredible 55 goals in five games to lead the league. The team also leads in goals per game and point differential (+31). The individual rankings see Crunch players dominating. Forwards Ryan Minnick and Mike Derezic are tied with a league-best 11 goals. Dezeric sits alone at the top of the leaderboard with 14 points (goals and assists). Minnick is just behind him with 13, tied with Colorado’s Francisco Rivas (who has played three more games). Midfielder Admir Suljevic leads the league in assists with six. Those six assists along with his five goals have him tied with teammate Kevin Blackwood for third in the league with 11 points. All told, four of the five top-point producers in the league are members of the Crunch.
It is not just goals that have propelled the team this season. Goalkeeper Marijo Musa has been an absolute wall. In the most recent match-up with the Mustangs, he stopped an incredible 17 shots while only conceding two goals. He is tied for the league lead with a 3.33 goals-against average (GAA).
Overall, this has been about as good of a start as the franchise could have hoped. The team takes the field next weekend with two games against the Omaha Kings. Tickets are on sale now for the game on Saturday (7:00 p.m. start) and Sunday (3:00 p.m. start). Head over to theclevelandcrunch.com/tickets to be a part of the action.
*The M2 postseason will include four teams. Three of those teams will earn a spot by winning a regional tournament, meaning that only one at-large spot is available.