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Flint City Bucks hire coaches, announce tryouts for new academy team

The Detroit News

The Flint City Bucks FC are making giant steps with their new academy team, hiring a head coach and an assistant while announcing tryouts for the fledgling outfit.

The USL 2 outfit joined forces with Liverpool Football Club Michigan to launch an academy side for players under-16 to 19 in age. The Flint City Bucks-affiliated team will be a member of the new 50-club United Soccer League Academy League set to begin play this summer. 

Ben Jones, Flint City Bucks Academy head coach

Ben Jones has been appointed as head coach with Michael O’Neill serving as assistant coach, the club announced this week. 

Jones serves as LFC Michigan boys technical director for U11-U19 levels as well as an assistant coach for Lawrence Tech University men's team. His coaching career has included spells working in academies with English clubs Bolton Wanderers FC and Burnley FC. He also served as an analyst and youth coach with Wigan Athletic FC.

More:Flint City Bucks link up with Liverpool FC Michigan to launch academy team

“We aim to build upon the Bucks’ tradition of excellence by putting an exciting product on the pitch,” Jones said in a written statement. “Our vision is to create an elite development environment with true synergy between the academy team and the USL Two team. 

“We’re creating opportunities for players to be exposed to professional and collegiate scouts — to help them reach their dreams of playing at the next level.”

Michael O'Neill, Flint City Bucks Academy assistant coach

O’Neill, who played for the Bucks during the 2020 exhibition season, holds a USSF B coaching license and a bachelor’s degree in sport and recreation management from Tiffin University. He is head coach of Saginaw Valley State University women’s soccer team, guiding the Cardinals to a GLIAC final and two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances.

Academy team players will train with the Flint City senior players with some even joining the USL 2 club on match days.

Flint City FC Bucks head coach Andy Wagstaff is also president and owner of LFC Michigan.

Tryouts will take place 4:45-6 p.m. Friday, April 9, and 9:30-10:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac.  Players at the U16-U19 levels may register online.