AFC Columbia prepares for rivalry matchup in season opener

With the summer months now upon us, it brings the start of the third season of AFC Columbia. The season starts off with a bang, with a home matchup against rival Ajax St. Louis in the battle for the I-70 Cup this Saturday.

Now playing in an expanded Midwest Premier League, AFC along with third year player Elliot Goodwin is ready for the challenge. 

“With it being the first game of the year if we can get that win under our belt [and] play well for the full 90 minutes with the squad that we got, that’s really going to kickstart the season,” Goodwin said. 

The first look at the AFC Columbia team came in a friendly 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Fusion. After trailing 1-0 at halftime, AFC led the way with three goals in the second half to secure the win. One of the goal scorers in the game was recent William Woods graduate Michael Bhat. 

“I felt in the second half especially we really started to actually look like a team and started to put the pressure on [the Fusion],” Bhat said.

Similar to Baht, AFC Columbia is built up almost entirely of kids from the mid-Missouri area. This includes kids from William Woods, Columbia College, local high school kids and various other institutions from across the area. As the only MWPL team in the mid-Missouri area, AFC is a great representative of the area and take pride in the community. 

“[We’re] one of a kind,” Bhat said. “The community wants a good show, we better put it on for them.”

This pride manifests themselves against Ajax St. Louis, the club’s biggest rivals. The two teams will match up twice with the hopes of hoisting the I-70 cup at the end of the season. While the two teams are friendly off the pitch, things are quite different when the whistle blows on the pitch. 

The two rivals will match up at Marvin Owens Stadium at Columbia College on 811 Rangeline Street on Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.