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Game Day Hub: Flower City Union vs Michigan Stars FC in the NISA Championship Final

Flower City's Cinderella story have them playing for the league title today: Here's everything you need to know about the improbable playoff run of the team from Rochester, NY.

All the lines are there | Photograph courtesy Romeo High School

The 2023 championship game for the third-division National Independent Soccer Association is probably the last thing you expect to see previewed on this website. But sixth-seed Flower City Union of Rochester, NY continue to defy the odds to reach its first-ever title game. Today, they play for silverware when they face Michigan Stars FC deep in the Midwest.

So before Gotham FC plays OL Reign in the NWSL Championship Final, why not check out some third-division professional soccer? Here is your Flower City vs Michigan Stars Game Day Hub.

Game Day Essentials
  • NISA Championship Final: #2 Michigan Stars FC vs #6 Flower City Union
  • Date and Time: Saturday, November 11, 3:30 pm ET
  • Venue: Romeo High School Stadium in Washington Township, MI
  • Forecast: Chilly with periods of clouds and sunshine, 45˚F/7.2˚C
  • Watch: FIFA+

Flower City vs Michigan Stars preview

Whether you call it playing with house money or riding a hot hand, Flower City were never supposed to be in this game.

Flower City had 27 points and eight wins in the regular season compared to 46 points and 13 wins for the Stars while. That’s a six-to-seven win tilt in favor of the higher seed. Michigan are also the defending NISA champion after winning their first title last year at home.

Both teams being here are directly tied to another NISA side: Club de Lyon FC. Michigan beat CdL three times in October due to scheduling oddities. Those three wins helped lift the Stars into second place and earn a first-round bye, while CdL’s dropped points allowed Flower City to make the playoffs.

Flower City vs Stars H2H















Michigan are the clear and away winner against Flower City dating back to last year. Of six games played, Michigan won five and drew one. In addition, the Stars walked away with clean sheets in five out of six matches.

This season, the two teams met twice. The Stars won 2-0 at Romeo High School Stadium on August 27, and featured a brace by Leon Maric.

The return leg on September 23 was played in Auburn, NY — Flower City participated that day under the “Salt City Union” name. The result was the same but the game broke historical tradition: Malik Stewart scored the first goal against the Stars in club history to take the lead. But another brace by Maric gave Michigan the 2-3 win.

But history matters little to Flower City this postseason. Since joining NISA in 2022, the team had never beaten Los Angeles Force before their shock win in the Quarterfinals. The Semifinal win over Chattanooga FC was only the second time the team had beaten the Tennessee side.

That 2-3 loss in September might be considered the start of Flower City’s run to the playoffs. Since that match, the team logged three wins and two draws (including last weekend’s penalty shootout), and just one loss.

Flower City Union

  • Player Availability: Flower City will be without Fredrick Yamoah Opoku after he sustained an injury last month that ruled him out for the rest of the season.
  • The same players who beat LA Force and Chattanooga FC should make the trip to Michigan.
  • Alioune Diakhate leads the team with 10 goals across all competitions, including two this postseason in the quarterfinals. FCU’s other top forward Luke Ferreira only has five goals and last scored in a 4:2 win over Savannah Clover FC on Oct. 11.
  • Michael Mejia had the game of his life against Chattanooga FC in the semifinals. He and the backline held off the Golden Boot winner and top-scoring offense in NISA. Can they do it against the second-best in both categories?

Michigan Stars FC

  • Player Availability: The full squad is available.
  • Former New York Red Bull Barry Sharifi had been with the team late in the season but has not appeared since late September.
  • Michigan’s 37 goals this season were the second most in NISA and the most scored by the team in a single season since they went professional in 2020. Flower City’s total in the regular season was 30. Including playoffs, the Stars lead 40 to 34.
  • Center forward Leon Maric finished the regular season with 14 goals, one behind Golden Boot Winner Markus Naglestad (Chattanooga FC). He has yet to find the back of the net in the offseason.
  • Andrés Chalbaud finished the regular season tied for the most assists in NISA with seven. Maric finished tied for second with six.
  • Former Zimbabwe national football team keeper Tatenda Mkuruva finished the regular season with 10 clean sheets, the third most in NISA. That’s double the amount recorded by FCU’s Michael Mejia.