The Michigan Bucks of the United Soccer League’s (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) opened their first season in 1996 as the Mid Michigan Bucks, based out of Saginaw, Michigan. The Bucks qualified for the National Finals in each of their first two seasons in 1996 (Cocoa Beach, FL) and 1997 (Central Coast, CA). The Bucks were Great Lakes Division champions in each of their first five seasons, 1996-2000 and made their only appearance in the National Championship game in 2000, when they lost to the Chicago Soccers 1-0.
The minor league affiliate of the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer (MLS) moved to Detroit in 2002 and as the now known Michigan Bucks, became one of the most storied franchises in PDL history with its unprecedented success in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup tournament. The nation’s oldest tournament is open to all amateur and professional teams in the US, in which the more you win, the higher the level of team you play. The Bucks first eligible season in Open Cup was 1997, when they beat their first ever pro team in Wilmington, NC (3-2) and then took the eventual champions Rochester Rhinos to overtime before being eliminated. That was the Bucks first taste in Open Cup and set the tone for what would become one of the team’s main goals each season.