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News from USL

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    Richmond Kickers News Release --

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    RICHMOND, Va. – In conjunction with the groundbreaking multi-year deal unveiled on Wednesday between MLS and USL PRO, the Richmond Kickers and D.C. United today announced that the clubs have entered into an affiliate agreement.

    As a part of this arrangement with the Kickers, United will send a minimum of four first-team players – to be announced at a later date – on long-term loans to Richmond. Separated by a little over 100 miles, the two organizations worked closely together last year to organize loan spells for forward Long Tan and Homegrown defender Ethan White.

    “We have had a long-standing relationship with the Richmond Kickers and we are thrilled to now have a formal partnership in place that will benefit both organizations,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. “Many current and former D.C. United players have gained valuable experience while playing for the Kickers over the years, and we are excited to be working with a club who has a vision of excellence with everything from their professional team down to their academy and youth teams.”

    “We are delighted to partner with D.C. United, one of Major League Soccer’s, flagship brands and most successful franchises,” said Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer Leigh Cowlishaw. “Our affiliation agreement is the perfect compliment as both clubs have a proud winning tradition, proven track record of player development and a rich history of players who have represented the Kickers and D.C. United. We look forward to building a long-term alliance that will provide multiple benefits for both clubs and grow the professional soccer game at all levels.”

    Over the past two decades, 18 D.C. United players have played with the Richmond Kickers, with the roster of players including 2011 Major League Soccer MVP Dwayne De Rosario, Mike Burke, Jeff Causey, Ben Crawley, Brian Kamler, Mike McGinty, Richie Williams, Mark Simpson, Clyde Simms and Robert Ssejjemba. Players who have featured with the Kickers on loan include Brian Carroll, John DiRaimondo, Justin Mapp, Andy Metcalf, Bryan Namoff, Anthony Peters, Long Tan and Ethan White. In franchise history, an impressive 22 players have progressed from the Richmond Kickers into Major League Soccer.

    MLS sides without formal USL PRO affiliates will send their Reserve teams to participate in interleague competition with USL PRO squads. Fixtures between these MLS Reserve teams and USL PRO sides will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings. With the goal of enhancing the development of professional soccer players in North America, this partnership between the two leagues aims to strengthen competition and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration.

    Additional technical and commercial initiatives between MLS and USL PRO are expected to be announced in the coming months once details are finalized. 

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    USL PRO News Release

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO announced its 2013 regular season format and schedule today, with each of its 13 clubs playing a 26-game schedule as the league embarks on a groundbreaking partnership with MLS that features interleague games vs. MLS Reserve teams.

    Two new teams have been added to USL PRO in 2013, with the Phoenix FC Wolves and VSI Tampa Bay FC joining the 11 returning teams from 2012. Phoenix FC is set to open the 182-game season on Saturday, March 23 when it travels to face the Los Angeles Blues, and VSI Tampa Bay FC will play its inaugural game a week later on Saturday, March 30 when it travels to meet the Wolves at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. USL PRO will once again feature a single-table format.

    2013 USL PRO Table
    Antigua Barracuda FC
    Charleston Battery
    Charlotte Eagles
    Dayton Dutch Lions
    Harrisburg City Islanders
    Los Angeles Blues
    Orlando City Lions
    Phoenix FC Wolves
    Pittsburgh Riverhounds
    Richmond Kickers
    Rochester Rhinos
    VSI Tampa Bay FC
    Wilmington Hammerheads

    The 2013 USL PRO Playoffs will include the top eight finishers in the table, with the quarterfinals (No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, etc.) set for the weekend of August 23-25. The semifinals featuring the four remaining teams will be played the following weekend, with the 2013 USL PRO Championship set for the weekend of September 6-8. All playoff rounds feature a single-game knockout format and teams will not be re-seeded following each round.

    The final weekend of the regular season is set for Friday-Sunday August 16-18, with 12 of 13 teams in action as the race for playoff spots winds down.

    Thanks to the new partnership with MLS, each of the 13 USL PRO teams will compete in two inter-league games against MLS Reserve League opponents. With the exception of Antigua, which will play both of its games at MLS Reserve teams, USL PRO teams have been paired with a single MLS team to play a home and home series. All inter-league games will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings.

    The interleague schedule gets underway on Sunday, April 7, when the Los Angeles Galaxy Reserves travel across town to face the Los Angeles Blues at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium and the Portland Timbers Reserves travel to face VSI Tampa Bay FC.

    Other interleague matchups:
    Antigua Barracuda FC vs. FC Dallas & San Jose Earthquakes
    Charleston Battery vs. Houston Dynamo
    Charlotte Eagles vs. Chicago Fire
    Dayton Dutch Lions vs. Columbus Crew
    Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Colorado Rapids
    Orlando City vs. Seattle Sounders FC
    Phoenix FC vs. Real Salt Lake
    Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. Toronto FC
    Richmond Kickers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
    Rochester Rhinos vs. Montreal Impact
    Wilmington Hammerheads vs. New York Red Bulls

    All USL PRO games, as well as all USL PRO vs. MLS Reserve interleague games played at USL PRO venues from the 2013 season will be available live online through’s mobile technology also allows fans the ability to follow USL PRO from anywhere.

    The strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below MLS, both on and off the field, USL PRO features six teams with more than a decade of operational experience, and more than 100 years of combined operational experience.

    2013 USL PRO Schedule

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  • 01/25/13--09:17: Sanders Looking To Make Jump
  • USL PRO Feature

    Friday, January 25, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – As with all of the players arriving at the IMG Academy this weekend for the USL PRO Combine, Chip Sanders has a simple goal in mind.

    “Hopefully [I can earn] a contract, or at least a trial,” Sanders said after Thursday’s opening session. “I’ve been working coaching for the last six months trying to find a club, so it’s a good opportunity to come out and get in front of a bunch of coaches and hopefully impress somebody.”

    Like many of the players selected to train and compete in front of coaches and scouts from USL PRO, MLS and overseas, Sanders arrives in Bradenton with a strong pedigree from the PDL. A standout at Davidson in his college career, the 6-foot-4 goalkeeper had a standout season in 2012 for Orlando City U23, recording a 0.548 goals against-average in the regular season as the side won the Southern Conference Championship.

    “It was unbelievable,” Sanders said. “I mean, the way Orlando is doing things, top to bottom, is first class, and we had a great season, and a great summer, and it ended up getting cut short more than we wanted it to, but it was a great season and a great experience.”

    A captain at Davidson in his senior season in 2011, Sanders set a single-season record for the Wildcats with nine shutouts. Having previously played for the Baton Rouge Capitals in the PDL, Sanders arrived in Orlando aiming to gain more experience as he pursued his goal of breaking into the professional ranks. With the Lions’ run in the playoffs, being eliminated in the National Semifinals by the Carolina Dynamo, Sanders greatly enjoyed his time with the club.

    “You know, it was a great team, and a great experience to be on a team again after I graduated to continue my career and keep the level high,” Sanders said. “It’s a higher level than college, it makes you sharper, the speed of play is bumped up and it gets you closer to the pro level of play.”

    In addition to playing for the club’s U23 side, Sanders also got the opportunity to train with the club’s first team when injuries or illness required PDL players to step in. Getting the chance to work alongside, and observe the work habits, of former USL PRO Goalkeeper of the Year Miguel Gallardo gave Sanders an idea of what it will take to reach the next level.

    “His work-rate is incredible,” Sanders said of Gallardo. “He’s always moving, always doing extra reps. He doesn’t make mistakes. He’s eliminated mistakes from his game, and as a young goalkeeper it’s a good thing to aspire to do.”

    Participating in practice scrimmages also gave Sanders a taste of what he could expect should be picked up by a USL PRO club for the new season.

    “It’s a lot quicker,” he said. “First touches are a lot cleaner. The biggest thing for me was everybody knew where they were going with their first touch, so it was set up exactly where they wanted it.”

    As much as he enjoyed his time in Orlando, however, Sanders won’t be fazed should he be at the opposite end from Gallardo this upcoming summer.

    “I loved my time in Orlando, and I’m grateful for everything they did for me, but at the end of the day I need to find a place to play,” Sanders said. “I don’t want to be sitting around watching USL in six months. I’ll shake the hands of the guys I know, and thank them for everything they did.” 

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    USL PRO Feature

    Friday, January 25, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – John Viscosi had completed his summer with the Des Moines Menace, but before he returned to the University of Buffalo for his senior season, there was a brief stop to make.

    “One of the reasons I came to America, because I am from Canada, to play school and to play PDL was to get an MLS opportunity,” Viscosi said after Friday morning’s goalkeeping session at the USL PRO Combine. “I was able to train with the New England Revolution over the summer for 10 days with Remy Roy, the goalkeeping coach over there, and that was great, I loved to be in that atmosphere.”

    Viscosi, also formerly of the Ottawa Fury, is one of 12 goalkeepers at IMG Academy this weekend hoping to make the jump to the professional ranks. After having played at two of the top clubs in the PDL, Viscosi believes he is ready.

    Part of that confidence comes from the time Viscosi spent with the Menace. Through the guidance of Coach Laurie Calloway, Viscosi learned lessons he is hoping will stand him in good stead this weekend.

    “Laurie Calloway was a great coach, he taught me a lot,” Viscosi said. “He would sit us down for about half-an-hour before every training session and share his knowledge with us, so there was definitely a lot of learning, training was great and there was something to be learned from every training session, every game, so I took a lot from him, and I was happy to play for him.”

    Viscosi is also looking forward to catching up with one of his former teammates with the Menace, Logan McDaniel. A standout defender who earned PDL All-Central Conference honors with the Menace in 2010, McDaniel will also be in attendance this weekend.

    “I haven’t seen him since the end of July, since we last left Des Moines, so I’ve been keeping in touch with him,” Viscosi said. “He’s looking to have some good results from this as well, so it would be good to see us both go on and get signed.”

    Viscosi is also eager to keep learning. One of the main focuses of the goalkeeping coaches attending the combine this year has been offering advice on how they might stand out for the USL PRO, MLS and overseas coaches and scouts in attendance as they look to impress during the weekend.

    “They’re seeing me for the first time, and they’re talking to us about how to make a good first impression and how to show what you have in such a short time,” Viscosi said. “I think that’s going to help me wherever I go, into any preseason or any team’s training camp, making a good first impression and showing off the tools I have and making a good impression on people there.”

    The experience, and confidence, he gained training with the Revolution last summer, however, is something that Viscosi has carried with him through the past fall, and with him to Bradenton.

    “I was able to get into the changing room, go to training every single day,” Viscosi said. “Actually, their second goalkeeper was injured at the time, so I had a big role when I was there, playing in all of the small-sided games and literally every part of training. Even on the Saturday of the Kansas City game, I was warming up in front of 25,000 fans, because they needed an extra ‘keeper.

    “It worked our really well, it was right before I left for school for preseason, so it was nice to have that experience, and it gave me some good confidence going in.” 

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  • 01/26/13--19:30: Plavsic Keys Morning Victory
  • USL PRO Combine Recap

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – Former Victoria Highlanders forward Sasa Plavsic scored a pair of goals to lead Team 3 to a 3-2 victory against Team 4 in the Saturday morning scrimmages at the 2013 USL PRO Combine presented by Umbro at IMG Academy. All the goals came in the second half, with Plavsic scoring his side’s first two goals before Adrian Pena netted the winner.

    Team 4 had the better of the early exchanges, and Eduardo Arroyo had the first good chance of the game, only to see his half-volley from 25 yards go wide of the right post. Team 3 eventually settled into the game, their first glimpse of an opening coming five minutes last as Juan Lozoya’s good run in from the right flank was picked out by Philip Suprise’s pass, only for goalkeeper Bret Mollon to react quickly off his line to block.

    Team 4 had the better chances before the halftime break, though, and could have taken the lead seven minutes before halftime. Moses Aduny was able to break into the right side of the penalty area, but instead of shooting, he attempted to cross for Uche Onyeador, and the opportunity went to waste.

    Team 3 would take the lead early in the second half when Peter Bow stole possession in the attacking third and played in a good pass for Plavsic to open the scoring. Joseph Toby almost added to the lead with a good volley as he arrived late in the penalty area from left back, but Team 4 was able to get back on level terms as Colby Bauer volleyed in a good finish from the center of the penalty area.

    Team 4 then took the lead, Aduny making up for his earlier error when he decided to cut into the penalty area and curled a shot into the back of the net. Plavsic soon got his side back on even terms, however, and then Pena scored what would prove to be the winning goal from close range late on.

    TEAM 1 2, TEAM 2 0: Goals in either half by Riley Sumpter and Steven Miller game Team 1 victory in the opening scrimmage of the season, with both players putting in good performances in addition to their goals.

    Team 2 had started the brighter of the teams early, Jordan Roylance almost breaking in behind the defense, only to get tracked down before he could get away a shot. Former River City Rovers standout Dillon Tufty had a similar opportunity, but took a little too much time before shooting as the chance went awry.

    Team 1’s first chance came to Chris Tsonis, who shot high and wide from the right side of the penalty area on the turn, but things turned around when a group of late first-half substitutes was brought on. One of those, Sumpter, forced a save from Team 2’s Dustin Butcher soon after his arrival, and he opened the scoring three minutes before the halftime break with a good low shot into the left corner.

    Miller then added to the lead 10 minutes into the second half, a deflected through-ball coming to the former Cincinnati King before he put away a good finish into the left corner. Team 2 tried to find a way back into the game, but Team 1 defenders Malcolm Calbert and Shawn Ferguson both had solid performances to held their side record a shutout.

    TEAM 5 0, TEAM 6 0: Neither side was able to find the back of the net as the final scrimmage of the morning session finished goalless.

    Both sides played well in the opening half, but neither side was able to find much in the way of an attacking edge when they got to the final third. Ferretty Sousa had the best chance of the half for Team 5, but his shot from 25 yards went wide of the left post.

    The game opened up more in the second half, Team 5’s Leigh Veidman almost getting on the end of a through ball, only to be denied by Corey Whisenhunt coming quickly off his line. Veidmen had the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later, only for the offside flag to be raised.

    Team 6’s main threat came from down the right-hand side, where full back Dan Nederoed made some good overlapping runs. Nederoed’s low cross through the penalty area after he had created space for himself was just too far in front of his forwards to finish 20 minutes in, and Nederoed also created a good chance for Rene Garay that forced a good save by Vinny Papageorgiou.

    In the end, however, neither side was able to break the deadlock, Team 5’s other good chance being sent over the crossbar by Ryan Asare-Bediako as they were unable to cap a good half with a goal. 

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  • 01/26/13--23:43: Miller Scores Twice In Win
  • USL PRO Combine Recap

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – Steven Miller had a pair of goals as Team 1 took a convincing 3-0 victory against Team 4 in the opening game of the afternoon scrimmages at the 2013 USL PRO Combine presented by Umbro at IMG Academy. Miller had a goal in either half, as his side’s defense went without conceding a goal in either contest.

    Team 1 had the better of the early play, and they got on the board in the 10th minute as Ralph Lundy sent in a good corner from the right that bounced once before being headed home by Shawn Ferguson. Ten minutes later it was 2-0, as a deflected pass by Riley Sumpter came to Miller, who finished well.

    Team 4 almost pulled a goal back quickly, Patricke Mbang On curling a fine shot off the crossbar from 25 yards, but they were unable to find much in the way of opportunities as Ferguson and Ryan Coffman played well in the center of defense.

    Team 4 continued to try and press forward, but Miller added a second nine minutes into the second half, giving the former Michigan Bucks and Ocean City Nor’easters player three goals on Saturday.

    Team 4 tried to hit back, Uche Onyeador’s curling free kick being easily saved by Brian Hale at his left post. David Lazo also had a strike from distance for his side, but his shot sailed over the crossbar, allowing Team 1 to earn a second shutout in their two scrimmages.

    TEAM 5 1, TEAM 2 0: A late goal by Sean De Silva gave Team 5 victory as they finished Saturday with a win and a draw.

    The winning goal came with just over five minutes remaining, Garrett Losee springing De Silva behind Team 2’s defense with a good reverse ball before the former College of Charleston standout drove home an emphatic finish.

    The goal capped a game that saw both sides have chances that neither were able to convert. Team 5’s Ferretty Sousa almost found an opening seven minutes in, only for goalkeeper Sean Teepen to gather after coming off his line quickly. Losee then had a chance for a turning shot from the right side of the penalty area, his effort finding the side netting.

    Team 2 had a better time of things in the second half, Dillon Tufty driving an effort too close to goalkeeper John Viscosi, and they had the best chance to take the lead 23 minutes after the break as Westin Vallentine broke in behind the defense. The forward’s finish, however, came back off the crossbar, and Team 2’s defense was able to clear.

    Team 5 was good value for their late winner, though, and they came close to taking the lead earlier as a long-range effort by Leigh Veidman could only be parried by Dustin Butcher. De Silva himself also went close after the break, only for Butcher to gather in his shot comfortably. Six minutes later, though, he would find the back of the net for the only goal of the game.

    TEAM 3 1, TEAM 6 0: An own goal early in the second half proved the only tally of an open game that saw Team 6 try to rally late to earn a draw.

    Team 6 started the more brightly of the two teams, Lynval Da Costa getting the first chance of the game after being played in, only to be closed down after hesitating before shooting. Team 3 gradually came further into the game, Anthony Arico having his effort from 25 yards saved by Corey Whisenhunt and Sasa Plavsic shooting wide of the net before the halftime break.

    The deadlock was broken moments into the second half as a stint of pressure by Team 3 resulted in an effort by Adrian Pena that was turned into his own net by a defender as he tried to clear. Team 3 had other chances to add to its lead, Plavsic curling a free kick over the crossbar and Philip Suprise having a good shot saved by Roberto Perez.

    Team 6 tried to come back late in the game, Nuno Gourgel hitting a shot from 30 yards well but wide of the right post. The pressure continued to build as the half wore on, Da Costa sending a header over the crossbar and Steven Beattie almost taking advantage of Gerard John-Williams’ knockdown at the top of the penalty area, only for his effort to go wide., but Team 3 was able to hold on for a hard-fought win.

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    USL PRO Combine Round-Up

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – Sean De Silva had his second goal of the weekend as Team 5 took a 1-0 victory against Team 4 in the final scrimmage of the USL PRO Combine presented by Umbro on Sunday morning at IMG Academy. The win allowed Team 5 to finish the weekend undefeated, without conceding a goal, with a record of 2-0-1.

    De Silva’s goal came 20 minutes from the end, as he was able to run onto a pass from Brian Greco and put away his finish from inside the penalty area. The former College of Charleston standout had scored the only goal in Team 5’s other win, a 1-0 victory against Team 2 on Saturday afternoon, and had a good performance along with a number of his teammates as they had the better of much of the contest.

    Team 5 had started the game off on the front foot, and came close to take the lead a number of times before the break. Matt Seinfeld’s low cross in the 18th minute was partially blocked after a good run into the right side of the penalty area, but the deflection came to Ferretty Sousa, whose shot was well saved by Bret Mollon.

    Sousa wasn’t shy of having a go when the opportunity came, shooting over from 25 yards a few minutes later, and Team 5 continued to push for an opener, Garrett Losee’s cross intended for Leigh Veidman being cleared to safety by Dominic Cutrofello. Veidman then went close after a good pass from Seinfeld set him up on the right side of the penalty area, but his shot hit the left post and rebounded to safety.

    Team 4 wasn’t able to hold as much possession, but came close to opening the scoring in the second half when Gabe Causse curled a low free kick from the left toward the bottom-right corner, only for John Viscosi to turn the effort around the post. On balance, however, Team 5 was good value for its win as De Silva’s finish nine minutes later proved the game-winner.

    TEAM 2 3, TEAM 3 2: Second-half goals by Raffi Gregorian and Andrew Derayeh allowed Team 2 to end the weekend with a win as they were able to overcome a pair of goals by Sasa Plavsic for Team 3 that earned the former Victoria Highlanders’ forward the weekend’s Golden Boot with four goals.

    Both teams had chances early, but it was Team 2 that opened the scoring just under 20 minutes in. After a good run down the left by Logan McDaniel created space for a cross, Macca Wilde was there at the near post to provide a good first-time finish from the low, driven ball in.

    That would be the way the game would stay until the halftime break but Team 3 would get on even terms early in the second half from a free kick just outside the penalty area. Plavsic struck the effort, which deflected off the top of the wall and into the back of the net.

    Team 2 would regain the lead just four minutes later, Gregorian finding space and the opportunity to send a beautiful chip over Robert Mueller and in from 35 yards out. Team 2 would add to its lead nine minutes later as Derayeh, a teammate of Wilde’s with the PDL’s Toronto Lynx, curled a finish in after cutting in from the left side.

    Plavsic was able to pull back a late goal for Team 3, following up to put away his own rebound from close range after a back-post header wasn’t handled cleanly by Sean Teepen, but Team 2 was able to close out the victory, Jamiel Hardware almost adding to his side’s lead as he hit the crossbar late on with a fine left-footed shot from the right.

    TEAM 6 1, TEAM 1 0: A late goal by Michael Stewart gave Team 6 victory, and handed Team 1 its first defeat of the weekend on the first goal it conceded in the three scrimmages.

    Stewart’s goal came just two minutes before the end as the center back was able to head home a corner from the right to lift his side to victory. Team 1 had the better of an even game in terms of chances, but was unable to find a decisive finish as it finished with a record of 2-1-0.

    Team 1 had the better of the early going, Chris Tsonis having a pair of chances to open the scoring with the first going wide of the right post and the second being charged down by a defender. Ralph Lundy also went close, hitting the post with a well-struck shot.

    While both midfields played relatively well, both defenses remained on top for the most-part in the second half. Lundy again went close for Team 1, his shot from the left flashing wide of the right post, and Oscar Barboza fired a long-range effort that went over the crossbar. In the end, however, it was Stewart’s goal that proved decisive.

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    Central S.C. Cobras News Release –

    Monday, January 28, 2013

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Central S.C. Cobras have announced a partnership with Carolina Elite Soccer Academy that will help grow women’s soccer in South Carolina while providing increased opportunities for elite-level players.

    Carolina Elite Soccer Academy (CESA) is a Greenville-based club with more than 3,000 members ranging in age from 4 to 19. Formed in 2004, CESA has consistently produced high-level female players who have gone on to compete at many of the top college soccer programs in the Southeast. The Central S.C. Cobras are preparing for their second year of participation in the USL W-League.

    “The primary purpose of our organization has always been to provide soccer opportunities for women who wish to continue playing at a high level after their collegiate careers are complete,” said Ewell Gordon, owner and president of the Cobras. “It’s why we joined the W-League and it is now why we have entered into a partnership with Carolina Elite Soccer Academy (CESA).

    “There were numerous reasons why the partnership with CESA makes sense, but the single most important reason is the organizations’ goals and objectives for the future of women’s soccer in South Carolina are a direct fit.”

    In addition to the W-League team, the Carolina Elite Cobras will field a Super-20 League team beginning in 2013. The Super-20 League team will be used primarily as a developmental team which will provide the training and competition required to prepare players for W-League play.

    In 2012 the Cobras were the only expansion franchise to have a player named to the W-League All-Conference team as Tabitha Padgett was recognized for her play. A successful 2012 season saw the first-year franchise amass a record of 3-4-5. The team competed well in matches against both the eventual 2012 division champions, the Charlotte Lady Eagles, and the 2011 W-League Champions, the Atlanta Silverbacks. The Cobras are looking to build on that success as they begin preparations for the 2013 season.

    Cobras General Manager and Head Coach Sandy Burris was pleased with the team after its inaugural season.

    “To be able to bring this level of soccer to the state of South Carolina and to be successful is a great feeling,” Burris said. “I have known [CESA’s] Andrew [Hyslop] for many years and consider him a pioneer and true advocate for women’s soccer at every level. CESA has built a reputation for producing high-level women’s teams at every age group so being able to partner and bring in the Super-20s is exciting. If you look at the players from South Carolina that have played in the W-League for other teams, it will be nice to be able to give them an opportunity to play for their home team, families, and local supporters.”

    “For CESA this partnership makes sense,” said Hyslop, CESA’s co-executive director. “We have many of our former players who are now playing at the college level and they will be able to train and play in the summer either at the Super-20 or W-League level. In addition, our up-and-coming younger players who currently compete at the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) and USYSA levels will be able to see a potential path forward that will allow them to continue developing and enjoying the game while playing at a very competitive standard.

    “The best younger players in our program and beyond will be given the chance to train with the Super-20s and I am confident that the local soccer community will support the Cobras games that will be scheduled here in Greenville this summer. I’m also hopeful that many of the top youth and college players in South Carolina will want to be a part of the Carolina Elite Cobras organization.”

    The newly named Carolina Elite Cobras will once again compete in the Southeast Division in 2013. In 2012 the division included the Charlotte Lady Eagles, Atlanta Silverbacks, VSI Tampa Flames and FC Jax Destroyers.

    For more information about the Cobras visit, contact the club offices at 803.661.9668 or email

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  • 10/11/10--15:14: Getting Back To His Roots
  • USL Feature

    Monday, October 11, 2010


    TAMPA, Fla. – Before the Rochester Rhinos and Carolina RailHawks, for Chris Economides, there was the Kansas City Attack.

    “I actually got my start in professional soccer in the indoor game,” Economides said, speaking at the USL offices. “I was one of the owners of the old Kansas City Attack in the NPSL in the early nineties. One of my early claims to fame was winning an indoor championship in my second season in Kansas City with the Attack beating some of my soon-to-be Rhino players that were members of the Cleveland Crunch.”

    Now the Senior Director of USL PRO is getting back to his indoor roots as the leader of the USL’s I-League, scheduled to begin play in November, 2011. With just over a year until the league’s launch, Economides is confident of finding success both on and off the field for the franchises that make up the league’s inaugural season.

    “I think just as you’ve seen with USL PRO, we’re trying to have a business model that makes sense,” Economides said. “The days of operating with multi-million dollar operating budgets, it just doesn’t make any sense from a financial perspective, from an operational perspective, so I think just as we’ve done with USL PRO, we’re trying to create a business model with the I-League that makes sense, which preaches financial prudence, which preaches income versus expenses.

    “It’s a pretty simple, common sense aspect where your expenses shouldn’t outweigh your income. We’re preaching financial prudence when it comes to the I-League, it will be a very structured budget, not with a lot of high costs.”

    The Rochester Lancers are, as yet, the only confirmed member of the I-League, but Economides expects to have at least eight, and even as many as 12, teams playing in regional competition. The main focus of the league in terms of franchises is currently the Northeast, Mid Atlantic and Midwest regions, but Economides believes that in the long-term, the league could grow across the country.

    “The sky is the limit. If the business model makes sense, if the franchises are profitable, as we grow this it will grow regionally,” Economides said. “As this thing grows, as we build the entire indoor pyramid structure of the USL, we hope to be in over 100 markets in the PDL, W-League and USL PRO perspective.”

    While building a pyramid similar to the one USL currently uses for the outdoor game, incorporating indoor youth leagues and potentially divisions that mirror the PDL and W-League, is part of the long-term strategy, Economides is also aiming to have I-League and USL PRO franchises develop partnerships that would offer the ability to build the brand with year-round exposure from the indoor and outdoor game.

    “As we looked at the overall model of the I-League, I think that’s one of the common synergies that needs to take place,” Economides said. “As we talk to potential I-League markets, we’re hoping that an I-League market will either have a relationship with a USL PRO team or even take it one step further, if a USL PRO market wants to take on and have what I call year-round exposure and year-round opportunity, that’s an ideal scenario to have both the indoor and outdoor operators own the franchises themselves.”

    It would also have a benefit for the players, who would have the ability to move between the two franchises and play year-round.

    Live game video player

    “I think it allows players to make soccer more of a year-round opportunity,” Economides said, “a year-round job to let them focus on their playing career, to let them focus on honing their skills, indoor and outdoor. As we look to build the sport in this country, I think it could be a key aspect that will provide players with year-round employment opportunities.”

    What Economides hopes most of all, though, is that the I-League can bring back the type of entertainment and excitement the sport saw in its heyday.

    “We’re in the entertainment business,” Economides said. “We’re competing with high school sports, we’re competing with movies, we’re competing with a whole host of things, so I think it has to be something that’s family-oriented, that’s family-affordable fun. I envision our ticket prices being very affordable for a family of four to go to a match and then make it an experience for the kids, for mom and dad to have a good time.”

    All this week, look for video conversations with USL Senior Director of USL PRO Chris Economides on the I-League on

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    USL PRO Combine Feature

    Monday, January 28, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – The last time Chris Dillon and Nuno Gourgel were on the same side, FC London were celebrating claiming the 2012 PDL Championship.

    This past weekend they were teammates again, both in pursuit of a chance to move into the professional ranks at the USL PRO Combine at IMG Academy.

    “That’s a nice surprise,” Gourgel said, “because he knows my game, I know his game, so it makes it easier for us to play.”

    FC London’s run through the PDL Playoffs last year still remains fresh in both players’ memories. An underdog entering the postseason, London upset both the Thunder Bay Chill and Michigan Bucks to claim the Central Conference title, and then recorded a remarkable comeback to claim a 3-2 win against the Sounders FC U23 in the national semifinals.

    “No, nobody could have written that,” Dillon said. “We were underdogs all the way, and that was kind of our motto, to be the underdogs and to play out of skins all the time, and we ended up doing it. It was great.”

    London’s comeback came in front of its home fans, who according to Gourgel, had been behind the team from the start of the season. The level of support the side had seen was evident at the PDL Championship Game, as nearly 250 fans made the trip to Greensboro, N.C. to see their side take a 2-1 victory against the Carolina Dynamo.

    “Home games, we expected the support, but when they came down we realized how much it meant to the community,” Gourgel said. “It gave us that extra support to go and win the game.”

    After the title celebration, London’s players returned to college, but Dillon and Gourgel, who both played in the NAIA, joked with one another that they would see each other again at the national finals. They would, with Gourgel’s Ashford and Dillon’s Mobile both reaching the tournament.

    “It was good, because when we left [London], we were like ‘see you at nationals’, just messing around,” Gourgel said. “Next thing we know we’re in the last 16, so it was great to meet up with the boys, great to know he was doing well too.”

    Dillon’s Mobile side reached the championship game before falling to Belhaven, continuing the program’s history of top-level soccer. Dillon has already seen one of his teammates reach the professional ranks, with former Reading United standout and NAIA Player of the Year Stephen Okai being taken by the Philadelphia Union in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft two weeks ago, and he is grateful to have had the opportunity to grow as a member of the Rams.

    “It’s a really good program,” Dillon said. “It’s got a lot of history, there’s a great bunch of boys there as well.”

    Now he and Gourgel are both hoping to make the same jump as a number of their predecessors at the USL PRO Combine have, with both believing they have the necessary tools to make it at the next level.

    And if they make it, they’ll be bringing the same attitude that helped their side earn a championship last summer.

    “If I get the opportunity, I feel like I’m ready to put the hard work in and make it successful,” Gourgel said. “I feel like I could be ready for the next level if I work hard.” 

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    Super Y-League Feature

    Monday, January 28, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The inaugural Super Y-League Annual General Meeting was held last week as part of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention, with team representatives from across the country coming together for a review of the past season and breakout sessions that including speeches from University of Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski and U.S. Women’s National Team player Leslie Osborne.

    Among the topics discussed at the AGM were the league’s minimum standards, game-day operations, communications and public relations, and the assignment of division alignment for the upcoming 2013 season. Team representatives were also able to use breakout sessions to discuss specific opportunities and challenges that each individual division faces.

    “We are absolutely delighted at the turnout, and response, to our first Super Y-League AGM,” USL Youth League Senior Director Jason Arnold said. “This has been a big first step toward a successful 2013 season, and has laid the building blocks as we look to build the league’s size and visibility in the future.”

    One of the main topics of the weekend was recruitment, on which subject Cirovski addressed the AGM. Osborne also spoke about her career so far, and her development as a young player that allowed her to move through the ranks to become part of the U.S. Women’s National Team and a member of the Chicago Red Stars in the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League.

    The NSCAA’s CEO Joe Cummings also spoke at the event, highlighting the strong relationship between the NSCAA and USL, and the goals of the NSCAA Convention.

    “We were very excited and pleased to assist the USL in hosting their first Youth AGM, in conjunction with our own Convention,” Cummings said. “The event went very well and we look forward to an ongoing relationship with the Youth Department of the USL and the league as a whole.”

    The event also offered the opportunity for coaches and administrators to share best practices at a club and division level, and a chance to network as the league looks to continue its growth in the future.

    “Giving our coaches and administrators the chance to work together, and get the chance to know each other away from the playing field, will allow for greater relationships within the league in the future,” Arnold said. “With the success we had this year, this will become an annual fixture in the Super-Y League calendar.” 

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    Rochester Rhinos News Release --

    Monday, January 28, 2013

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The New England Revolution (Major League Soccer) and the Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) have entered into a partnership that makes the Rhinos the official USL PRO affiliate of the Revolution. The teams’ agreement is part of the landmark announcement made by MLS and USL PRO last week to help further the development of professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada.

    The agreement calls for the Revolution to loan a minimum of four players to the Rhinos for the season. While the Revs players will remain with New England for the entirety of the Revs’ preseason training, members of the Rochester coaching staff will travel to Tucson and meet the Revs for the next stage of the team’s training camp to observe players and collaborate with the Revolution coaches. The Revs players loaned to Rochester will be announced closer to the start of the season once that determination has been made.

    “We are pleased to formalize what we believe will be a beneficial partnership for both the Revolution and Rochester,” Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said. “This affiliate agreement will allow a number of our players to gain increased and meaningful playing time in the Rhino’s USL PRO schedule while we can monitor their development in conjunction with Rochester’s staff.

    “We believe forming an affiliation with Rochester gives us the ability to get our players more competitive games on a regular basis. This option allows those players who would normally see most of their action in the Reserve League to get more consistent playing time, which we believe will benefit our first team in the long run,” Burns said.

    “We’re pleased to be entering this groundbreaking affiliation with the New England Revolution,” Rochester Rhinos President and Chief Operating Officer Pat Ercoli said. “The partnership announced last week secured the USL’s position directly underneath Major League Soccer, and our affiliation with New England will allow us to maximize this relationship. This partnership allows us to put the best possible product on the field this season.

    “We are returning our nucleus from last season and adding a minimum of four MLS players to the group. On the soccer side this also allows us to continue our focus on player development and builds a pipeline for our professional players to Major League Soccer,” Ercoli continued.

    Per an announcement made on January 23 by the two leagues, MLS teams now have the opportunity to formally partner with USL PRO clubs to further player development. As the Revolution’s official affiliate, Rochester will retain a minimum of four Revolution players for the entire USL PRO regular season. Those players would then get regular playing time, and have the opportunity to be called back up by the Revs if needed.

    MLS sides without formal USL PRO affiliates will send their Reserve teams to participate in interleague competition with USL PRO squads. Matches between these MLS Reserve teams and USL PRO sides will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings. The partnership between the two leagues aims to strengthen competition and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration, with the goal of enhancing the development of professional soccer players in North America.

    For more information about Rochester Rhinos season tickets or flex packs that are currently on sale, check out or call the MVP Health Care Box Office at Sahlen’s Stadium at (585)454-KICK

    For up-to-the-minute information on the Rhinos, visit the team’s official web site at, or join the conversation and interact with fans on the team’s social platforms: Twitter (@rochesterrhinos, #rhinos) or Facebook (rochesterrhinos).

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    USL News Release

    Monday, January 28, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The W-League released its divisional alignment and schedule for 2013 today, with the action slated to kick off for the 145-game regular season on Saturday, May 11. The Bay Area Breeze join the 25-team league in 2013, further strengthening the highly competitive Western Conference.

    “The 2013 W-League season will produce a tremendous amount of excitement for players and fans alike,” said Amanda Duffy, senior director of the W-League. “Top collegiate, amateur and professional players will compete in the W-League while aspiring to reach the top level of women’s soccer in North America. The competition will continue to be enhanced by additional regional rivalries as the fight for post-season spots intensifies.”

    The W-League remains divided into three geographic conferences – Eastern, Central and Western – with the Eastern Conference featuring two divisions, the seven-team Northeast and the five-team Southeast. The Central Conference features six teams, while the Western Conference has seven. W-League clubs will play 10- or 12-game schedules in 2013, with teams facing each opponent in their division home and away. Teams in the Central Conference and Southeast Division will play additional games vs. geographic rivals to complete their schedules.

    Five W-League teams have undergone name changes for 2013, including the Carolina Elite Cobras (formerly Central SC Cobras), K-W United FC (Hamilton FC Rage), New York Magic – F.A. Euro (New York Magic), VSI Tampa Bay FC (VSI Tampa Flames) and the Washington Spirit Reserves (D.C. United Women).

    2013 W-League Alignment

    Eastern Conference

    Northeast Division
    Fredericksburg Impact
    Long Island Rough Riders
    New Jersey Wildcats
    New York Magic – F.A. Euro
    North Jersey Valkyries
    Virginia Beach Piranhas
    Washington Spirit Reserves

    Southeast Division
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Carolina Elite Cobras
    Charlotte Lady Eagles
    Dayton Dutch Lions
    VSI Tampa Bay FC

    Central Conference
    K-W United FC
    Laval Comets
    London Gryphons
    Ottawa Fury
    Quebec City Amiral
    Toronto Lady Lynx

    Western Conference
    Bay Area Breeze
    Colorado Rapids Women
    Colorado Rush
    LA Strikers
    Pali Blues
    Santa Clarita Blue Heat
    Seattle Sounders Women

    The season opens on Saturday, May 11 as New York travels to face the Washington Spirit Reserves and the Virginia Beach Piranhas play host to the Fredericksburg Impact. The opening weekend of the season also sees an important Southeast Division matchup as the Carolina Elite Cobras play host to the Atlanta Silverbacks. The 2012 W-League champions, the Ottawa Fury, begin their title defense on Saturday, May 25 when they travel to face the Quebec City Amiral.


    The final weekend of the regular season is set for July 12-14, with 21 of the 25 teams in action as the race for postseason spots winds down.

    The 19th W-League season will see 10 teams advance to the postseason with one champion advancing from each conference to the 2013 W-League Championship presented by Nike. The three conference champions will meet July 26-28 in a ‘final four’ format championship, which will also include a yet-to-be-determined host team. The semifinals will be played on Friday, July 26 with the winners meeting for the 2013 W-League Championship on Sunday, July 28.

    The W-League is recognized throughout the world for providing superior competition for female players, while offering affordable family entertainment for fans across North America. The caliber of W-League talent continues to grow, with 22 of the 29 players recently called into the U.S. Women’s National Team camp boasting W-League experience.

    2013 W-League Schedule

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  • 01/30/13--07:55: Tucson Earns Draw With SKC
  • FC Tucson News Release --

    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    TUCSON, Ariz. — FC Tucson’s 1-1 draw against Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday night didn’t begin with the 6 p.m. kickoff on Kino North Field 5. It began months earlier when head coach Rick Schantz and General Manager Jon Pearlman scheduled the date.

    “We set up our lineup to be very counter-attacking,” Schantz said. “It was all planned out and the guys executed. … It’s extremely gratifying to know that we gave Sporting Kansas City a good run.”

    Schantz explained that after spending time watching Sporting Kansas City and learning from head coach Peter Vermes, he knew enough about the team’s style of play to build a roster to counter it.

    Using the players Pearlman acquired, Schantz’s lineup focused on manning up Sporting Kansas City’s three midfielders in the middle to make them work.

    While FC Tucson failed to notch the mild upset (Sporting Kansas City wasn’t playing its best starting XI) it did succeed in challenging the MLS club early in their preseason training.

    “Their guys fought and, to them, it’s a big game, which I completely understand because they want to show if they can play against these guys and maybe get a shot with one of our teams,” said Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes. “I thought they did very well, it was a good competition for us and in the end we got out of it what we needed to.”

    Sporting KC opened the match’s scoring when C.J. Sapong twisted his defender around and found open space to slot a pass toward Chance Myers racing down the right side of the field. Meyer’s well-placed cross found the head of Soony Saad, who directed he ball into the left side of the net.

    Not to be outdone, FC Tucson’s goal was also the result of good interplay between teammates. Forward Patrick Wallen took advantage of an out-of-position defender to lead midfielder Tyler Wilson toward the box with a long ball. Wilson took the pass and drove toward the net from the right side until passing the ball back toward the center of the box where Wallen was there to finish.

    FC Tucson’s Donny Toia nearly had two other goals in the first half but hit the frame on both occasions. For the rest of the match, FC Tucson spent more time defending than attacking but in the end Sporting Kansas City couldn't find the game-winning tally.

    “My goal in this game is to build and to instill passion for FC Tucson for the players,” Schantz said. “And when these players walk into the locker room, they now believe they can play with Sporting Kansas City. And I will remind them that in June and July when we’re pushing for the playoffs for the PDL.”

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    Next Generation Series News Release

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla.
    – United Soccer Leagues announced today that FC Nashville has been accepted into the Next Generation Series, an exciting, new youth soccer initiative undertaken by USL and IMG Academy, established to provide players, coaches and clubs the opportunity to take part in an eight month, elite-level league.

    The 2013 NGS format will consist of U12 and U14 boys and girls teams participating in an eight-month season beginning in August and culminating in April that will feature two evaluation/competition events at IMG. Top players will be identified through the NGS Player Tracking Program and invited to attend the NGS ID Training Camp at IMG.

    Led by former U.S Men’s National Team member Desmond Armstrong, FC Nashville is hoping to find and develop talent and put players on a larger stage.

    "NGS provides my players and opportunity for greater exposure and competition beyond their traditional state league," Armstrong said. "The long-term benefits of the NGS format are that there will be more training times in preparation for matches, which is vitally important at these ages, so that it lays the foundation for player success when they are older competing for spots at the next levels."

    More than just another youth soccer league, NGS features a forward-looking, innovative, comprehensive, and unique development program designed to develop the complete elite youth soccer player through a defined regimen of training, competition, testing, and evaluation.

    “We are excited to have accepted FC Nashville into the Next Generation Series,” NGS Director Abe Thompson said. “FC Nashville’s players will have the unique experience of being part of an elite competition while benefitting from the facilities and expertise available at IMG Academy. The NGS will help players improve by offering them challenging games, as well as exposing them at a younger age to the type of evaluation and education they will see at higher levels, whether that be a youth national team, college, professional team, or full national team. FC Nashville is a strong addition to the NGS, and are committed to helping their players maximize their potential and develop into the best players possible.”

    The inspiration for NGS was the repeated and consistent message received from top youth soccer clubs and coaches that they were seeking a fresh development initiative specifically geared toward younger teams and players. NGS was launched to fill the void by providing a comprehensive platform for clubs to best prepare their young players for the challenges which await them at the next level.

    "My goal for joining NGS is to provide broader opportunities for my players, some of whom are refugees, who have a limited geographic range to display their talents," Armstrong continued. "Our three tenets are Development-Competition-Exposure, NGS provides the vehicle by which we will touch each of these while drawing from its vast professional resources."

    The world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and education complex, IMG Academy hosted myriad soccer team training camps in 2012, including clubs such as the Seattle Sounders, D.C. United, Columbus Crew, Sweden’s Malmö FF, as well as the U.S. Women’s National Team preparing for the London Olympic Games and the Antigua & Barbuda Men’s National Team preparing for World Cup qualifying.

    To learn more about the Next Generation Series please visit

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    Orlando City Feature --

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    ORLANDO, Fla. -- Orlando City goalkeeper and captain Miguel Gallardo is looking forward to the start of preseason and continuing City’s dominance in the USL PRO.

    “We have a system and Adrian [Heath] is loyal to the system, but it’s always a team effort,” Gallardo said after Tuesday’s practice at the Seminole Soccer Complex. “This team doesn’t consist of one player making a big difference, it’s about 11 players trying to make something collectively.”

    The Lions began 2013 competing in a friendly against Italian Serie A side AS Roma, falling 5-0 at Rollins College. Gallardo played the full 90 minutes and expressed how that match was a great experience.

    “Roma was in midseason form, but playing against a team that plays football on such a high level is always great learning experience,” he added. “We learned and played collectively. Now we just have to carry that onto preseason and regular season.”

    With a couple notable players not coming back for the 2013 season, Gallardo says the team’s structure is good enough to produce players that can fit in the starting XI.

    “Everybody here in Orlando sees we’re getting bigger and bigger everyday and wants to be a part of it,” said Gallardo on Orlando City’s open tryouts and the talent that could be found. “I understand local players are trying to get in and get a spot with the local team, so good luck.”

    Orlando City will partake in its third Disney Pro Soccer Classic when they open play against Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union on Feb. 9 before taking on Toronto F.C. and Columbus Crew.

    The Lions, who are no strangers to competing against MLS clubs, last played Philadelphia a year ago when they hosted the Union at the Citrus Bowl as the teams played to a 1-1 draw.

    “We’re excited and looking forward to it,” said Gallardo. “It’s preseason, so obviously it’s about getting in shape to have a successful season.”

    Besides the Disney tournament, Gallardo is more eager to begin the long-awaited I-4 Derby between Orlando City and the Tampa Bay Rowdies when the first leg begins on March 9 at the Citrus Bowl.

    “We played against them 2-3 years ago when we were the Aztex and they were always physical matches,” Gallardo told “It’s something personal, I want to beat everybody, but Tampa Bay is a close rival."

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    PDL Feature

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – As he sat in the auditorium of the MLS SuperDraft, waiting to hear his name called, former Reading United and Notre Dame standout Ryan Finley talked with his mother as the Columbus Crew prepared to make the eighth selection.

    “It was funny, I was sitting there with my mom, and she said, ‘who do you think Columbus will pick?’, and I said, ‘well, they might pick me’, and they ended up calling my name,” Finley said IMG Academy this week. “It was kinda funny, but I had no idea, I was obviously very excited to come to Columbus.”

    One of the top seniors in the 2013 SuperDraft, Finley scored 21 goals in 22 games for Notre Dame last fall, becoming a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Now he’s settling in with the Crew as they begin their preseason training in Florida, and getting used to life in the professional ranks.

    “Obviously it’s taking me some time to get used to, but I’m having a good time, all the guys are very welcoming and they’re all a bunch of great guys, so that obviously helps,” Finley said. “I’m just trying to work hard and do my best.”

    In addition to his standout career with the Fighting Irish, Finley also gained experience in the PDL. Having previously played for the Ocean City Nor’easters and Central Jersey Spartans, he decided to train and play for Reading United this past summer. Under the watch of Reading coach, and Philadelphia Union assistant, Brendan Burke, Finley scored twice in eight appearances, playing alongside fellow SuperDraft selections Deshorn Brown, Stephen Okai, Ian Christianson and Greg Cochrane.

    “Brendan Burke did a great job, I talked to him, and I knew that Reading had a good history of finishing top of the table and having some good players come in and play for them,” Finley said. “I think just playing under a guy who has some MLS experience coaching-wise, it’s a great experience, and then you’re playing with some of the best players in the country, so it’s a pretty well-run organization.”

    Finley had another link to the Union thanks to his time with the U.S. U17 residency academy, with John Hackworth now the Union’s head coach. With their MLS affiliation, and the quality of player United was able to attract, MLS scouts would regularly attend Reading’s contests to keep an eye on potential future draft picks.

    “With Reading finishing at the top of the table year-in and year-out, I think it’s obviously an attraction for MLS coaches to come out and watch the best players and the best teams play,” Finley said. “That was obviously a pretty good attraction for me to come.”

    Now Finley is working to find his role for the Crew. For Notre Dame last fall, while one of the top players in the nation, the 21-year-old came off the bench in every game to score his 21 goals, and a similar role could be waiting for him, at least in the beginning, with Columbus.

    As you’d expect, Finley is ready to do whatever Crew coach Robert Warzycha asks of him, but he is eager to get his opportunity on the field and get his scoring account opened in MLS.

    “I’d like to score some goals,” he said of expectations for his rookie season. “I haven’t really set a goal yet, I’m sure I will before the season starts, but I’m just down here trying to work my tail off and just try to get as much playing time as I can.”

    As MLS and its teams prepare for the league’s 19th season, it is now starting to include players who have grown up with the league as part of the U.S. soccer landscape. As Finley prepares for his rookie season, in the same place that he worked to get to the position he is in now, it’s also a chance for him to reflect on what it means to have found a place in the league.

    “It’s funny, I was saying to one of my teammates who I was in residency with, it was funny when we were in residency and the MLS teams would come down, we’d think it was a huge deal, and now we’re in the MLS spot with the residency kids here,” Finley said. “It’s obviously an honor to be in MLS, the league has grown so much and there are a lot more great things to come from it.”

    With Finley’s scoring prowess, and all-around game, great things could soon come from him for the Crew.

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  • 01/31/13--14:17: Trio Returns To Hammerheads
  • Wilmington Hammerheads News Release --

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Wilmington Hammerheads have officially announced the signing of three veteran players for the 2013 USL PRO season. Hammerheads players Paul Nicholson, Gareth Evans, and Mark Briggs will all be returning onto the pitch at Legion Stadium this year as they look to surpass a successful 2012 season.

    Hammerheads midfielder Paul Nicholson and defender Gareth Evans have both been under the direction of Head Coach David Irving since the team’s return to USL PRO in 2011. Both have helped lead the Hammerheads into USL PRO playoffs each year on the squad, appearing in the quarterfinals in 2011 and then succeeding to the finals in September 2012.

    Nicholson appeared in 20 matches during the 2012 regular season, totaling one goal and two assists. Evans played in 22 matches, scoring one goal.

    The upcoming 2013 USL PRO season will also be midfielder Mark Briggs’ third season with the Hammerheads. He returns not only as a player, but also continuing his role of Assistant Coach to Irving as they travel to combines and plan for the approaching regular season.

    Briggs appeared in 20 regular season matches in 2012, totaling one goal and two assists.

    “I’m glad that we can keep players of this stature on the team and with their experience in the league,” Irving said. “All three players have leadership qualities that will surely be noticed and that is a good foundation to build from when beginning a new season.”

    For further information, contact the Wilmington Hammerheads office at (910) 777-2111 or online at

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    Sounders FC U-23 News Release -

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Washington Youth Soccer, the Seattle Sounders Women and Sounders FC U-23 teams announced a developmental partnership Tuesday to accentuate the state youth soccer association’s Long-Term Player Development Plan and to develop the brands of all three organizations within the state of Washington.

    Providing the guidelines for age-appropriate development for soccer players of all ages, abilities and genders, the Long-Term Player Development Plan is at the core of Washington Youth Soccer’s coaching and player-development philosophy, helping guide the development of the more than 115,000 players aged 5-19 who play in Washington Youth Soccer-affiliated programs.

    By entering into their new partnership with the Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 squads, Washington Youth Soccer can extend that development model to age 23 and beyond, helping players throughout Washington reach their highest potential in a healthy, sustainable way. Players in the Sounders FC/Washington Youth Soccer Elite Player Development program will enjoy increased access to training and matches for the Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 teams, and receive coaching from elite Sounders Women staff.

    The three organizations will also team up on marketing efforts, with Washington Youth Soccer promoting ticket sales, news and information on the Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 teams to its members via website, e-mail and event promotion, and the professional clubs doing the same for the state’s largest youth soccer organization.

    “This is a perfect extension of the developmental goals for our players and families in Washington,” Washington Youth Soccer President Doug Andreassen said. “We have built the perfect partnership with the Seattle Sounders FC in their first four seasons and we see this opportunity to do the same with U-23 Sounders and Sounders Women.”

    The Sounders Women play in the W-League, the first and longest-standing women’s soccer league in North America. Featuring current and former international and professional stars, the W-League also provides elite amateurs the opportunity to compete while maintaining their eligibility as college student-athletes. The league is recognized throughout the world for providing superior competition for female players, while offering affordable family entertainment for fans throughout North America.

    The Sounders U-23 team, likewise, offers a developmental pathway for elite college players in the Premier Development League (PDL), the top developmental men’s league in the U.S. In addition to league games, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, as well as various exhibitions.

    "We’re delighted about this partnership with Washington Youth Soccer,” Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 Co-Owner and CEO Lane Smith said. “The soccer community is a tight-knit family and we feel like this partnership adds another set of brothers and sisters to help push local soccer forward.”

    All three organizations have worked closely for years as part of the fabric of Washington’s rich soccer community — indeed, Washington Youth Soccer alum DeAndre Yedlin, who spent the last summer playing with the Seattle Sounders U-23 squad while on break from Akron University, recently became the first “Homegrown Player” named to the roster of the Seattle Sounders FC MLS franchise; while Hope Solo, a former Washington Youth Soccer star, returned to Seattle to play for the Sounders Women during the 2012 season.

    "The Sounders Women and U-23s take pride in representing the local soccer community on an elite level,” Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 Co-owner Cliff McElroy said. “This partnership is a perfect fit as it exemplifies that dedication and our unified values with Washington Youth Soccer."

    The new developmental partnership, however, will mark a strengthening of the relationship between the three organizations, each of which are committed to providing the highest levels of development and training to Washington’s top young soccer talents.

    “Washington can be proud of the model for all soccer in America — with a clear development pathway from the youth levels to the most vibrant and competitive professional teams in the country,” says Washington Youth Soccer CEO Terry Fisher. “Washington Youth Soccer is all in — 100 percent supporting soccer at all levels — building dreams for the future for our kids and their families. This is the greatest place in America for soccer at all levels. Let’s make them all successful!”

    The Sounders Women will begin play in April, while the Sounders U-23 men will begin their season in May. For schedules, ticket information and more, visit and

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    Pali Blues News Release -

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    LOS ANGELES – The Pali Blues are excited to announce their first four players for the 2013 W-League season, set to kick off on Saturday, May 18 at home versus the LA Strikers. UCLA Bruins Jenna Richmond, Abby Dahlkemper, Sarah Killion and Samantha Mewis will play for the Blues down the road from their school, where they fell short of an appearance in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in the fall of 2012.

    Both Killion and Mewis were members of the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team.

    “With the NWSL it was important for us to shift back to a team predominantly stacked with the top college players in the country, similar to what we had in 2009,” Blues Head Coach Charlie Naimo said. “Adding Abby, Samantha, Jenna and Sarah puts a huge dent in creating that class again.’

    Richmond, a midfielder from Centreville, Va., is heading into her final season at UCLA. As a freshman in 2010, she started all 21 matches she played in, ending the season with five goals and four assists for a total of 14 points. Richmond’s immediate impact on the team earned her a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team that year.

    In 2011, Richmond started 20 of 21 matches and finished the year with four goals and led the Bruins in assists (seven) along with Mewis. She added another team-best seven assists in 2012. Richmond also brings a wealth of Youth National Team experience, having played with the U-15, U-16, U-17, and U-20 U.S. Women’s National Teams. She was part of the U-20 squad that won the 2012 CONCACAF Championship for a berth to the U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a tournament in which she started all three group matches.

    Defender Abby Dahlkemper, from Menlo Park, Calif., comes to Pali with two seasons at UCLA under her belt, in addition to her U-17 and U-20 youth national team training. In her first season at UCLA, Dahlkemper earned two assists, and improved to three goals and three assists in 2012 while playing in all 23 matches as a starter.

    “I am extremely honored and excited to sign with the Blues,” Dahlkemper said. “I can't wait to play and practice with some of the best players in the country and I am looking forward to getting coached by Charlie and the rest of the training staff.”

    “Abby has already proven herself as a premier center back in the NCAA and youth national teams and will be the heir apparent to replace Christie Shaner who retired after last season,” Naimo said.

    Adding to the midfield is Killion, who will play her third season at UCLA this fall. As a freshman, Killion assisted two goals, and appeared in all 21 matches played by the Bruins. In 2012, she finished fourth on the team in points with three goals and six assists. Killion missed part of the Bruins’ 2012 campaign while on national team duty. She helped the USA to a championship at the 2012 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Japan, defeating Germany 1-0 in the final.

    “I am so happy and grateful about the opportunity to play with the Pali Blues this summer,” Killion said. “I am looking forward to getting to know a new group of girls and playing with some amazing talent. Of course I’m also excited to be coached by Charlie.”

    The last of the group is Mewis, a midfielder from Hanson, Mass., who was also on the team that won the 2012 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In addition to that championship, Mewis also helped the USA to second place in the 2008 U-17 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand, in which she played alongside her sister, Kristie.

    At UCLA, Mewis finished the 2011 season second in scoring behind U.S. forward Sydney Leroux, recording six goals and seven assists, and being named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. She also missed part of the 2012 season while at the U-20 World Cup, but managed to score three goals and add three assists for the Bruins.

    “I am excited about signing with the Blues for this summer,” the midfielder said. “I think it will be a great opportunity to compete at a high level with girls from around the country. Not only will it be a great place to get better in the off season, but it should be challenging and a fun environment. [I am] honored to be a part of such a great team.”

    Naimo shared his final thoughts on acquiring these players for the 2013 season.

    “All of these players have been a part of a US U-20 national team, with Sam and Sarah winning gold last fall. It goes without saying that they will all play huge roles in helping Pali get back to another national final. I am really looking forward to coaching and learning from these girls. I was blown away by their professionalism when I met with them."

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