Well, Otto Orf had done it. The Akron Vulcans won it. That’s right, folks: Under the leadership of Mr. Orf, head coach and former Cleveland Crunch goaltender, Akron’s latest semi-professional team won their very first home opener. And they beat Columbus, so take that, central Ohio!
I’d been awaiting this game since attending the Crunch’s 25th anniversary championship reunion bout last April. It was there that I was introduced to futsal and Akron’s future team during halftime, when they had some folks play an abbreviated match. I’d seen indoor soccer before, but nothing quite like this.
Futsal, you may have surmised, is played inside. The pitch, or hard court, is smaller than a traditional indoor soccer field. Play is five versus five, including goalkeepers. The ball is also more compact and firmer than those used in other iterations of the sport. Ball handling is emphasized in futsal, and it can be like magic when a player starts turning and twisting while seamlessly moving the ball from foot to foot. There are two 20-minute halves with a break in between, making for a pretty quick, high-energy affair.
The Vulcans join four other teams in the Eastern Conference of the National Futsal Premier League and will compete against them as well as five teams in the Western Conference. Currently, all the teams are based in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Ultimately, the best teams in each conference will find themselves in the playoffs battling for the championship. With Otto Orf at the helm, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Akron could take it all the way their first year!
While the Vulcans are new to Akron, futsal has been played in Northeast Ohio for over a decade. Since 2007, Great Lakes Futsal has been engaging youth in league play throughout the region. As fate would have it, the Great Lakes Regional Tournament took place at Goodyear Hall and ended just a few hours before the Vulcans’ first kickoff. Many participants and families stuck around for the match.
If attendees were smart (and over 21), they made sure to stop by Eighty-Three Brewery for a pint or two beforehand. Dear reader, please know I did! Of course, it was so my photographer and I could make a game plan, white balance the cameras and do all the other hard work necessary before covering an event of this magnitude.
On to the game. Woah, baby! All the players fervently moved up and down the court. Back and forth the ball went from one side to the other. The maneuvering and dribbling skills were amazing to watch. It never seemed like one team had an advantage over the other, unless you looked at the scoreboard. Until the final two minutes, Akron led Columbus 4-0. That’s when Cbus pulled their goaltender and had all five players vie for a goal, ultimately scoring one. That was it, though! The Vulcans came away with the victory.
So can you dig it? Are you ready to watch these young men from around the world, including Zimbabwe, Argentina and Lagrange, Ohio, take on the best that the National Futsal Premier League has to offer? I thought you’d say yes, dear reader!
The next home game takes place Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7 pm at Goodyear Hall. Don’t be a sucker and miss the best team in Northeast Ohio that has anything to do with a foot or ball.
See you there,
Dave Daly loves to copy edit and will occasionally step outside his comfort zone to write articles when a most excellent topic presents itself.
The Vulcans’ next home game is Feb. 15! For tickets and more information on Vulcan Futsal, visit www.vulcanfutsal.com.