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News from USL

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    USL PRO News Release

    Thursday, August 15, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The Richmond Kickers claimed the 2013 USL PRO Regular Season Championship on Wednesday night as they took a 2-0 victory against Orlando City at City Stadium. The victory gave Richmond the No. 1 seed for the upcoming USL PRO Playoffs, and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

    Meanwhile, in the battle for the final playoff position, the Wilmington Hammerheads kept their improbable playoff hopes alive as a late surge earned a 4-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Legion Stadium. The win moved Wilmington above VSI Tampa Bay FC into ninth position in the standings, just one point behind the Dayton Dutch Lions going to the final game of the season.

    Richmond’s victory was keyed by veteran forward Matt Delicâte, who scored both goals in the Kickers’ victory. The club’s all-time leading scorer struck five minutes apart off assists by Joseph Ngwenya and Houston Dynamo loanee Brian Ownby. Orlando had chances to come back into the game in the second half, but a missed penalty by Kevin Molino and some outstanding goalkeeping by Andrew Dykstra, on loan from D.C. United, preserved the Kickers’ victory and the regular season championship.

    Wilmington scored three goals in the final 15 minutes to get past the Riverhounds, who had taken an early lead on Jose Angulo’s 14th goal of the season. The Hammerheads got back on even terms before the halftime break through Kyle Greig, however, and then put in a late push to take victory. Steven Perry scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 76th minute, and that was followed by finishes by Bryce Taylor and Cody Arnoux to seal victory.

    The Hammerheads still need help if they are to advance to the postseason, with the Dayton Dutch Lions still in control of the final playoff position. Should Dayton take victory against Harrisburg on Saturday night, the Dutch Lions would earn their first playoff berth in club history. Should Harrisburg either draw, or take victory, against the Dutch Lions, the Hammerheads would jump into eighth position with a victory against Antigua Barracuda FC. VSI Tampa Bay remains alive, but would need to take victory against Charlotte on Friday night, and have Harrisburg defeat Dayton and Wilmington draw with Antigua on Saturday to advance to the postseason.

    Stay up to date with all of the action in the final week of the USL PRO regular season through the league’s free online streaming service, USLNation.com, and also follow the race for the playoffs via Twitter (@USLPRO), Facebook and Google+ for live updates from every game, plus news, previews and recaps of all the action.


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    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    WILMINGTON, N.C. -- With the final spot in USL PRO playoffs on the line, the Wilmington Hammerheads were anything but short of goals Wednesday night as they took a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Legion Stadium. After equalizing prior to halftime after going behind early, the Hammerheads tallied three more goals in the final 15 minutes to ensure the victory against the Riverhounds and keep their playoff hopes alive.

    Pittsburgh put pressure on Wilmington in the 13th minute after forward Jose Angulo scored the first goal of the night off an assist by Richard Costanzo. The Hammerheads equalized in the 32nd minute off a high cross from Shawn Nicklaw into the penalty area that Kyle Greig headed into the top corner of the net.

    A breakaway by Pittsburgh's Stefan Lundberg in stoppage time gave the Riverhounds a chance to regain the lead just before the halftime break, but Wilmington's Tom Parratt blocked him off in the box allowing for Hammerheads goalkeeper Philip Tuttle to gain control of the ball.

    Wilmington's Mickael Oliveira carried over the intensity from the first half into the first five minutes following halftime with a long shot over the crossbar. It was the 76th minute, however, that the Hammerheads took their first lead of the night when Cody Arnoux passed to Steven Perry open in the middle of penalty area for the shot, giving him his first goal of the year.

    Shortly thereafter, Wilmington's Bryce Taylor also recorded his first goal of the regular season off an assist by Gareth Evans in the 82nd minute. Three minutes later, Perry returned the favor to Arnoux after playing a small cross into the front of the net for Arnoux to put his finish past Pittsburgh goalkeeper Gregory Blum.

    The Hammerheads will host Antigua Barracuda FC for their final match of the USL PRO regular season on Saturday, August 17th at 7:30 p.m.. Legion Stadium will also be the venue of a double-header on Saturday as the University of North Carolina Wilmington Men's Soccer team will play Longwood University at 5:00 p.m. prior to the Hammerheads taking the field.

    Now the Hammerheads must take a victory against Antigua to qualify for the final spot in the playoffs. On the other hand, the Harrisburg City Islanders must also defeat or take a draw over the Dayton Dutch Lions on Saturday to initially secure the Hammerheads' wishes. If both the Hammerheads and Dutch Lions claim victories on Saturday, the Dutch Lions will remain in the eighth and final playoff spot by a difference of one point in the league standings over the Hammerheads.

    For further information regarding the Wilmington Hammerheads, please contact (910) 777-2111 or visit online at www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com.


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    RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers claimed the 2013 USL PRO Regular Season Championship on Wednesday night, thrilling a crowd of 4,921 with a 2-0 win against Orlando City at City Stadium. A first half Matthew Delicâte double carried the Kickers to their sixth Regular Season title as goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra backstopped a stalwart defense with five saves to preserve his league-leading 10th shutout to close out the Kickers’ regular season home finale in style.

    With home-field advantage through the playoffs on the line, the Kickers tested Orlando goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo in the 15th minute when midfielder Nate Robinson served a corner into the penalty area. Joseph Ngwenya leapt to win the ball in the air 10 yards out but his header ricocheted off the near post and into side netting.

    Seconds later, a nice series through the midfield saw Mike Callahan and Luke Vercollone combine to spring Delicâte free inside the box but Gallardo was ready and waiting and smothered the ball off his foot.

    Delicâte was not to be denied again and opened scoring with a pair of goals in a five-minute span starting when Ngwenya sliced a cross into a swarming box in the 24th minute. The ball took a fortuitous deflection into the path of an onrushing Delicâte who slotted a low driven ball just inside the left post.

    Soon after, the Kickers’ all-time leading scorer got on the end of a well-placed Brian Ownby cross from deep on the left wing and punched a side-footed volley into the back of the net to send the home side into the locker room with a two-goal lead.

    The Lions fired out of the gates after the restart and earned the opportunity to pull a goal back when Dykstra brought down Long Tan in the box on the hour-mark. Midfielder Kevin Molino lined up the penalty but his chance would go begging as he skied the spot kick over the crossbar.

    Fifteen minutes later, Tan blasted a distance shot that forced Dykstra to leap to his right to parry it over the end line. The resulting corner kick flew into the fray as defender Rob Valentino broke free at the back post and fired on target but Callahan’s heroic header off the line kept the visitors scoreless.

    The Kickers answered back in the 78th minute when Vercollone raced down the right wing and played a through ball to Ngwenya at the top of the penalty area. As Gallardo came out to challenge, the Zimbabwean international rounded the diving ‘keeper and faced a wide open net only to hook his shot to left as his effort whizzed inches past the upright.

    In the waning minutes of regulation, midfielder Freddie Braun casually slotted a cross to a streaking Molino in the penalty area but his rocket shot did not elude Dykstra who preserved the club’s 11th shutout of the season.

    The Richmond Kickers conclude the 2013 regular season on the road this Saturday, August 17 when they take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The match will be broadcast on USLnation.com, live from Highmark Stadium at 7 p.m. The Kickers return to City Stadium one week later to host the USL PRO Quarterfinals on Saturday, August 24 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.


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    Friday, August 16, 2013

    PLANT CITY, Fla. – VSI Tampa Bay FC rallied from a two-goal deficit, but were eliminated from contention for the USL PRO Playoffs as they drew 3-3 with the Charlotte Eagles on Friday night at Plant City Stadium. The draw also ensured the Charleston Battery and Harrisburg City Islanders would hold home-field advantage in the quarterfinals of the USL PRO Playoffs.

    The Eagles had the better possession in the early going, but they opened the scoring with a good counter-attack as Christian Ramirez beat the offside trap and was able to get in one-on-one with Tampa Bay goalkeeper David Martin, and shot low into the right corner of the net. Ramirez came close to adding a second six minutes later, but wasn’t quite able to get on a good low cross from the left.

    Tampa Bay came into the game in the final 20 minutes of the first half, but Charlotte doubled its lead a minute from halftime as Ramirez scored his second from close range off a cross by Drew Yates. A minute later, however, Mauricio Salles volleyed home a finish to pull Tampa Bay back within a goal at the halftime break.

    VSI carried the momentum from the late goal into the second half, and Chad Burt forced a saved from Reed early in the second half as Tampa Bay pushed for an equalizer. The Eagles would add to their advantage on another counter-attack, however, as Stephen Okai played a good give-and-go and was played in behind the Tampa Bay defense before rounding Martin and finishing into an open goal.

    Tampa Bay would hit back five minutes later as Douglas Dos Santos fired a shot that took a slight deflection before finding its way into the right corner. Burt then forced another good save from Reed in the 68th minute, with Andriy Budnyy shooting the rebound over the crossbar as VSI, needing victory to keep its playoff hopes alive, continued to press.

    Charlotte would remain dangerous on the counter-attack, but Tampa Bay would grab a lifeline with three minutes to go as Burt was clipped down in the Eagles’ penalty area. Burt himself would step up and score from the penalty spot, but Tampa Bay was unable to find a winner in stoppage time as Josh Rife’s last-gasp header was saved by Reed.

     


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    USL PRO Feature

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    From the inception of the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL in 2010, Bob Funk Jr. and his management team with Prodigal LLC have put a strong product on the ice.

    Next year, Funk is aiming to do the same in USL PRO. After last month’s announcement that Oklahoma City would become the league’s 15th franchise in 2014, Funk and his associates are now getting set to bring another successful team to a city that is passionate about sport.

    “I was just looking for what was going to be the next best option for Oklahoma City that had the growth opportunity over 10-to-15 years in the sporting industry here,” Funk said by phone. “With soccer out there, having seen what was going on with MLS and how the league was growing, my thoughts were, ‘Oklahoma City isn’t ready for another major league team, but they might be in another 10-to-15 years, and how do you open the door to that market? How do you open the door to that sport in Oklahoma City?’ ”

    Funk’s initial interest in USL PRO came about soon after the establishment of the Barons, who have been to the AHL Playoffs each of their first three seasons. While other leagues were considered by the Funk and his management group, when the time came to make a decision, it was an easy one to make.

    “I had discussions with a couple of different people out there, people that I’d worked with in the United States and had conversations about both leagues, about which one was preferable, and I think the hands-down choice at that point was just a no-brainer for USL,” Funk said. “That was even before the partnership with MLS. That was what started us down that path to see the vision for where Oklahoma City was going to go, soccer fits well from an outdoor sport standpoint, we have a great record of support here that continues to grow year after year, we’ve already shown great numbers here in our local community.”

    The main focus now for Funk and his team is to make sure the franchise hits the ground running. The club has already announced plans for a soccer-specific stadium, initially set to house 7,000 fans with the potential for future expansion that will be designed by the same local architecture firm that built the beautiful Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in downtown Oklahoma City. The organization is also on the search for a general manager and head coach that will bring attractive and winning soccer to Oklahoma City.

    Away from the field, Funk is focused on making sure his past experiences with not only the Barons, but also the Oklahoma City Redhawks, are replicated in USL PRO.

    “I would say the lessons I’ve learned, in all my experiences, whether it was with sports teams, sporting events, special events, the rules are very much the same,” he said. “There are 10, 11, 12 basic rules that need to be followed. To me, all events are the same, and when you’re looking at something that is appealing, that is entertaining, that is dynamic and that people can get behind, we have to focus on those components when you’re looking at any sporting event or sports team, and be able to make the judgment on whether it’s going to be successful or not. Once you do that, it’s really a matter of following the basics and doing it the right way.”

    For Funk, doing things the right way doesn’t just mean putting a successful team on the field. It also means becoming part of the city’s wider soccer community, and offering opportunities through the USL PRO side that might not otherwise be available to young players in the region.

    "I think there are some opportunities with the PRO team to establish a really good development model here in Oklahoma,” Funk said. “With the number of grassroots players that are out there and the interest in athletics in our youth system and high school systems, I think there’s a good opportunity.”

    The new franchise is also going to be actively seeking an affiliation with an MLS club for its inaugural season, as the Barons have with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, as they aim to offer the highest level of soccer below Major League Soccer while getting ready to compete with traditional league powers such as Orlando City, the Charleston Battery, Richmond Kickers, Harrisburg City Islanders and Rochester Rhinos.

    “We’ve had a good experience with our experience with the Barons, and previously to that with the Redhawks and our affiliation with the Texas Rangers,” Funk said. “Having that major-league affiliation is a great marketing piece, it’s a great development model for us, it’s a great competitive model, we feel like, and it brings a lot of value on the field and off the field as well.

    “When you have these athletes in and around your community that the local youth get to be exposed to, getting to know what kind of individual they are, what they have to strive for to get to that level, so we have had great experiences with Edmonton and the Redhawks having that local player involvement on the youth side and with our fans as well. It makes a big difference.”

    In the long-term, Funk and his organization are also aiming higher than USL PRO, with the goal of become a franchise in MLS a long-term project Funk aims to accomplish. With a current candidate for MLS expansion currently in the league in Orlando City, and USL’s history of providing the platform for clubs to make the jump into the top flight, Funk is hopeful Oklahoma City can follow a similar path.

    “I know [Orlando’s] story and how they went about in their plan in getting an MLS franchise, and I’m looking forward to talking with them more about the details of that plan when I get to the Board of Governor’s Meetings because we’re currently going through those processes now in finding our development partners and investors locally to start developing that plan,” Funk said. “Our building process is very important, so I tend to take a very long-term view of things. Getting with those guys in Orlando, having a conversation with them will be crucial to us mapping out our plan over the next 10 years.”

    For now, though, Funk is aiming to establish Oklahoma City as a power in USL PRO, and a name that resonates with the Oklahoma City community. With a growing and diverse population, Funk believes that the local community will bring the passion it has for sports in general to its newest franchise.

    “We have such a culture here that revolves around sports,” Funk said. “We have Thunder basketball, we have OU and OSU football which are the giants in this marketplace, but you have a city of 1.3 million people here with very diverse interests in sports. I think our hockey team is an example that there are other opportunities, there are other diverse offerings in sports, soccer obviously being one of them, that is important for the Oklahoma City community.

    “I’ve been a big proponent of providing Oklahoma City, first of all, options, and with those options the best options possible, that are attainable, that they can come to be a part of and enjoy. We rely upon that sport culture to drive that, and being involved in USL PRO fits right into that mantra and our philosophy at Prodigal where we offer them the highest quality sport available.”


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  • 08/17/13--23:28: Wilmington Ends On High Note
  • Saturday, August 17, 2013

    WILMINGTON, N.C. -- The Wilmington Hammerheads finished their 2013 USL PRO regular season with a 4-1 victory over Antigua Barracuda FC Saturday night on their home turf at Legion Stadium in front of more than 3,300 fans. The Hammerheads concluded their season on a five-game winning streak, but unfortunately the late run was not enough to carry the team into the postseason for a chance at playoffs after falling short by one point in the USL PRO standings.

    The first goal of the night came as the game closed in on halftime in the 45th minute as a Wilmington free kick by Tom Parratt found Daniel Steres for the header into the top corner of the net. Steres led the Hammerheads in goals this season, tallying seven, breaking the tie with teammate Kyle Greig with six.

    Before beginning the second half of the match, Hammerheads Owner Bill Rudisill presented the 2013 Player Awards on field, unveiling the Hammerheads fans popular vote for the players they thought were the most deserving of the categories up for grabs. Kyle Greig took two awards, receiving Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors. Michael Daly was presented with Defensive Player of the Year and Daniel Steres was voted Most Valuable Player for the 2013 USL PRO regular season.

    Wilmington forwards Greig and Cody Arnoux worked to make several opportunities at the start of the second half for the Hammerheads. Antigua goalkeeper Corey Whisenhurst prevented Arnoux from two attempts after deflecting almost back-to-back shots on goal, but Arnoux snuck one by in the penalty area and increased the score 2-0 in the 64th minute off an assist from Tom Parratt, who finished with two on the night and led the Hammerheads with six this season.

    Antigua's Orlando Mitchum prevented a shutout with a goal in the 67th minute off a Tamorley Thomas assist, however their deficit increased back to two after Wilmington's Steven Perry scored his second goal of the season a minute later to put the Hammerheads up 3-1. Will Heaney was then able to tally his first goal of the season in stoppage time giving the Hammerheads a 4-1 victory.

    Although the Wilmington Hammerheads needed to claim a victory versus Antigua Barracuda FC, they also needed the Harrisburg City Islanders to take a win or a draw against the Dayton Dutch Lions on Saturday night as they were both battling for the eighth position in the league standings to qualify for playoffs. Dayton took a 3-1 victory over Harrisburg, therefore taking the final position and moving forward to postseason.

    For further information regarding the Wilmington Hammerheads, please contact (910) 777-2111 or visit online at www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com.


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    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    PITTSBURGH — On a beautiful Saturday night in Station Square, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Richmond Kickers ended in a 1-1 draw in front of another sellout crowd at Highmark Stadium. The Riverhounds Jose Angulo scored in the 64th minute on a service from Rob Vincent, making Angulo the league’s top striker as he finished the season tied for most goals (15) and the leader in point accumulation (35). The Kickers got back to level terms four minutes later, when second-half substitute Joseph Ngwenya scored on a deft touch off a cross from Shane Johnson.

    The clubs battled for possession in the middle third during the opening quarter-hour, seeing limited scoring chances for either side. The Riverhounds would earn the first quality scoring opportunity in the 21st minute when league-leading assist man Matt Dallman jumped a passing lane at the edge of the Kickers' defensive third. Traveling from left-to-right, Dallman cut back to his left to elude his marker and strike an inside-out shot with his right foot. Dallman’s shot would beat Kickers’ goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, but would sail just over the crossbar.

    Ten minutes later, Angulo would receive his best chance of the first half when outside back Mike Green found him all alone just outside of the penalty area on an entry ball. Angulo took a touch to set up his favorite left foot, but following Dallman’s lead, his shot sailed just inches over the crossbar.

    Coming out of the break after a scoreless first half, the game began to open up as both clubs looked to combine and change the point of attack. Both sides would receive good chances, but stellar positioning by goalkeepers Hunter Gilstrap and Dykstra would thwart the opportunities.

    The Riverhounds would take the lead when Vincent intercepted a pass from the Kickers near midfield. Driving with speed down the left flank, Vincent picked his head up to see Angulo slashing toward the near post. Vincent’s pass was on point, but Angulo needed a second effort to beat Dykstra as his first-time attempt popped directly up to him. Angulo would not miss from close range, as he passed home from inside the six-yard box.

    The Kickers wasted little time to equalize in the 68th minute. Johnson traveled with pace down the left flank and delivered a deep service towards the back post for an on-rushing Ngwenya. All alone at the back post, Ngwenya softly redirected the cross over the shoulder of Gilstrap and into the left side-netting for a class finish.

    The remaining twenty minutes of play continued to be fast-paced, but neither side would concede the game-winner. 

    With the draw, the Riverhounds have secured at least a seventh-place finish in the USL PRO standings. Pending the results throughout the league tonight, the Riverhounds could jump to sixth place. If the Riverhounds remain in seventh place, they would face Orlando City next Saturday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl. If the Riverhounds finish in sixth place, they will face the Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium next Saturday.

    The Kickers will play host to either the Dayton Dutch Lions or the Los Angeles Blues next Saturday night at City Stadium. Playoff start times are TBA, for more information regarding the USL PRO playoff fixtures, visit riverhounds.com or uslsoccer.com.

     


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    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    DAYTON, Ohio -- The Dayton Dutch Lions clinched the first playoff berth in club history as they took a 3-1 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders in their final game of the USL PRO regular season on Saturday night at Beavercreek Stadium. The Dutch Lions (10-9-7) also finished above .500 for the first time in club history as they rallied from an early deficit to defeat the City Islanders (14-10-2).

    Things looked a little dicey for the Dutch Lions when, in the second minute of the game, the City Islanders’ defensive back Coady Andrews got his head on the ball from a corner kick and sent it sailing into the Dutch Lions’ goal for an early Harrisburg lead.

    Dayton hunkered down with several opportunities hit get back on even terms in the first half, including an intense run down the right flank by Gibson Bardlsey who rammed the ball toward the City Islander’s keeper Nick Noble, but it curved out just wide of the goal. Dayton’s Eli Garner also had a chance as he broke into the City Islander’s penalty area, but Noble scooped it up off his feet for the save. Garner had several other opportunities which found Noble out of his box, with Harrisburg’s defensive backs, Stephen Basso and Andrews, stepping up each time and denying the equalizer.

    The Dutch Lions' pressure would pay off in the second half, however, as Garner started the side's rally to victory. Garner found the back of the net in the 57nd minute when he made good on through-ball from Irakli Khutsidze and scored for Dayton, tying things up 1-1. Six minutes later, Bardsley took his turn and nailed home a shot to the back post that put the Dutch Lions ahead.

    Dayton bolstered its lead in the 69th minute with a third goal by Brandon Schwartzendruber, who saw his chance arrive when he crept within yards of the penalty area and, with great composure, lifted a deft touch over Noble and under the crossbar for a 3-1 lead. The Dutch Lions were able to maintain their two-goal advantage until the final whistle, sending an exuberant crowd and the team into celebration.

    Dayton Coach Patrick Bal joined in the enthusiasm, citing the results as “absolutely fantastic”.

    “I think we created the most chances in one game in this game," Bal said. "We had to be there today. Today was the biggest moment in these guys’ careers, maybe…for sure it is the biggest in the club’s history! And they stepped up to the level we hadn’t seen in a couple of weeks.”

    Bal quickly shifted his attention to the future, and the Dayton Dutch Lions’ début in the USL PRO Playoffs. “We’re going to play to win,” Bal emphasized. “We’re not just going to play to be part of the playoffs. We’re going to play to win.”

    The Dayton Dutch Lions wish to thank their fans and sponsors for an exciting USL PRO Season, and invite everyone to visit the Dutch Lions website for tickets and updates to the USL PRO Playoffs. The Dutch Lions strive to create a professional environment with integrity and ethical conduct for its pro players and its youth, promoting competitive excellence, sportsmanship and community service.


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  • 08/18/13--01:47: Blues Grab Late Victory
  • Saturday, August 17, 2013

    FULLERTON, Calif. -- Two second-half goals from the Los Angeles Blues, including a stoppage-time winner from Matt Fondy, earned a 2-1 victory against the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday night at Titan Stadium. The victory allowed the Blued to conclude their regular season with an 11-8-7 record and 40 points on the season.

    The Blues, who had already clinched a playoff spot, leapfrogged Pittsburgh and Dayton to move into sixth place in the USL PRO standings, and they will now try to dethrone the reigning champion Charleston Battery, who finished the season in third place. The two teams will meet in the quarterfinals of the USL PRO Playoffs on Saturday, August 24th at Blackbaud Stadium at 4:30 p.m. PT.

    The first half was mainly dominated by Rochester, who controlled the ball well and made it difficult for the Blues to connect any passes in midfield. A chance for Rochester in the 24th minute off a corner kick was ultimately cleared by the Blues' defense, and the best chance for the Blues came in the final minute before the break when Shay Spitz crossed a ball into Juan Perez, but the shot was deflected toward goal and Kristian Nicht was able to make the stop.

    Spitz got the Blues on the board five minutes into the second half after George Davis IV and Matt Fondy came in for Maykel Galindo and Juan Perez, respectively. Davis played a ball from the wing into Spitz, who was there to finish for his fifth goal of the season, and give Los Angeles some confidence after a lifeless first half.

    The Rhinos responded in the 67th minute when Tyler Rosenlund leveled things up for the visitors, thanks to an unassisted rocket strike from about 20 yards out. After a couple of positioning adjustments on the Blues side and a couple of subs, Los Angeled pressed for two more chances, but wasn't able to level.

    In the 84th minute, Rochester found themselves down to 10 men when Blake Brettschneider was shown two yellow cards in quick succession. Taking advantage and pressing hard for a game-winner, the Blues found a chance in stoppage time when Spitz intercepted a ball in the Rhinos' final third, made a lightning-fast run down the middle, and then played a ball through to Fondy, who was there to pick it up and break in on goal. Fondy rounded the goalkeeper, and fired his shot home just beyond the stretch of the retreating defenders as he scored his 10th goal of the season.

    The Blues finished the regular season with 40 points a marked improvement over last year’s record of 9-12-3. In the process, the Blues improved their goal tally from 26 last year to 52.


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    USL PRO News Release

    Sunday, August 18, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The field for the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs was set late on Saturday night as the Dayton Dutch Lions took a 3-1 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders to claim the final playoff berth and advance to the postseason for the first time in club history. The USL PRO Playoffs kick off on Saturday, August 24 after a dramatic final day that saw playoff seeding come down to the final game of the season.

    Dayton fell behind early against Harrisburg as Coady Andrews gave the City Islanders’ a second-minute lead from a corner kick. The Dutch Lions rallied, however, as goals by Eli Garner, Gibson Bardsley and Brandon Swartzendruber in a 13-minute span gave their side a 3-1 lead with just over 20 minutes to play. The Dutch Lions’ victory also kept the City Islanders in fourth place, leaving the Charleston Battery to claim the No. 3 seed.

    Dayton’s victory denied 2012 Finalist Wilmington Hammerheads a place in the postseason, with the club’s one-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the season proving the difference as they took a 4-1 win against Antigua. The Los Angeles Blues took a 2-1 win against Rochester to earn the No. 6 seed in the final game of the season, with Matt Fondy scoring a stoppage-time winner to give him 10 goals in 10 games since joining the Blues in midseason.

    The 2013 USL PRO Playoffs will open with four quarterfinals next Saturday, with the No. 4-seed Harrisburg City Islanders hosting the No. 5-seed Charlotte Eagles at Skyline Sports Complex at 2 p.m. ET. The two teams split a pair of regular-season meetings, with both teams winning on the others’ home field. Charlotte earned a 2-1 win in the last meeting between the teams on August 7, with Christian Ramirez recording a goal and assist as they rallied from an early deficit.

    The Richmond Kickers will host the Dutch Lions at City Stadium at 7 p.m. as they aim to add to their regular season championship with the club’s first title since 2009. The Kickers took victory in both of their meetings with Dayton this season, including a 5-2 victory at City Stadium on August 10 that saw both Matt Delicate and Brian Ownby score a pair of goals.

    Defending USL PRO champion the Charleston Battery will open the postseason against the No. 6-seed Los Angeles Blues at Blackbaud Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the two teams having split their home-and-home regular-season series. The Blues won the most recent meeting between the two teams, 2-1, in Los Angeles, but the Battery will enter confident having taken a 3-0 victory at home on July 27.

    No. 2-seed Orlando City will open the playoffs against No. 7-seed the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at the Florida Citrus Bowl at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Riverhounds were one of the few teams to find success against the Lions this season, recording shutouts in both of their meetings as they took a 1-0 win in Florida on August 3 in their last meeting.

    Stay up to date with all of the action in the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs through the league’s free online streaming service, USLNation.com, and also follow the race for the playoffs via Twitter (@USLPRO), Facebook and Google+ for live updates from every game, plus news, previews and recaps of all the action.

    2013 USL PRO PLAYOFFS
    Quarterfinals
    Saturday, August 24
    No. 4 Harrisburg vs. No. 5 Charlotte, 2 p.m. ET, Skyline Sports Complex
    No. 1 Richmond vs. No. 8 Dayton, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium
    No. 2 Orlando vs. No. 7 Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m. ET, Florida Citrus Bowl
    No. 3 Charleston vs. No. 6 Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m. ET, Blackbaud Stadium 


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    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    ORLANDO, Fla. -- Orlando City SC (16-5-6, 54 points) finished the USL PRO regular season campaign on the right foot, topping the Charlotte Eagles (10-5-11, 41 points) 1-0 on Saturday night at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. 10,215 supporters came out to watch as the Lions looked impressive heading into the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs.

    “I think the most important thing is that we won the game tonight,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “It looks like everyone came through unscathed tonight in the victory (as we head into the playoffs).“

    The Lions, who already locked up the second seed heading into the playoffs, showed positive movement and threatening attacks early on- with Forward Dennis Chin nearly converting on a scoring chance in the 27th minute. The striker skipped past two Charlotte defenders after receiving a ball from Midfielder James O’Connor and rifled an attempt to the corner of the net, only for Eagles goalkeeper Alonso Jimenez to make a diving save.

    Orlando continued to hold possession throughout the first half, with near chances by Freddie Braun and Long Tan highlighting the Lions offense as the first 45 came to a close.

    The first half momentum carried over to the second, with an Orlando goal occurring in the 50th minute. Halftime substitute Jonathan Mendoza played a ball across the face of goal, finding Adama Mbengue on the opposite end of the pass. The former U23s midfielder’s deflection skipped toward Braun, who took a quick look before blasting his attempt home, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead.

    Backup Goalkeeper Sean Kelley kept the score sheet clean in the second half, coming in relief for starter Miguel Gallardo. The Kentucky native came up big in the final minutes, making key saves for the shutout and victory.

    Orlando now sets its sights on the 2013 postseason, which begin next Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. against an opponent that is yet to be determined. If the Lions should advance past the first weekend of playoffs, the Semifinals would also be in Orlando, with the date set for Friday, August 30.

    Tickets are available for Saturday night’s quarterfinal by calling (855) ORL-CITY or by visiting OrlandoCitySoccer.com. For more information on the upcoming playoffs and more, please visit OrlandoCitySoccer.com.


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  • 08/19/13--11:31: USL PRO Honors Announced
  • USL PRO News Release

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO announced the league’s statistical award winners for the 2013 season on Monday, honoring one player from the regular-season champion Richmond Kickers, another from runner-up Orlando City, and a pair of players from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

    Pittsburgh’s Jose Angulo claimed the league’s scoring title, finishing the season with 34 points as he helped lead the Riverhounds to the playoffs. Angulo scored the first goal in Highmark Stadium history as the Riverhounds opened their new stadium, and capped a standout season on Saturday night with his 15th goal of the season.

    Angulo’s 15 goals matched the performance of Orlando City’s Dom Dwyer, with the duo sharing the Golden Boot award for the league’s leading goal scorer while also sharing a new league record for goals in a single season. Dwyer, who joined the Lions on loan from Sporting Kansas City under their affiliation agreement at the start of the season, averaged more than a goal per game for Orlando, scoring 15 goals in 13 games. Since returning to Sporting, he has scored his first goal in Major League Soccer and also the CONCACAF Champions League.

    Richmond goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, who joined the club for much of the season on loan from MLS affiliate D.C. United, claimed the Goals-Against Average award as he finished the season with a GAA of 0.863. Dykstra was a key factor for the stingiest defense in USL PRO, leading the league with 10 shutouts as the Kickers claimed the USL PRO Regular Season Championship.

    Pittsburgh’s Matt Dallman rounds out the honorees as the winner of the Assists title, with the Riverhounds’ standout setting a new league record with 12 assists this season. Dallman’s service provided Angulo with much of the ammunition he needed to claim the scoring title, and provided the service for a third of the goals the Riverhounds scored in the regular season (36).

    The Riverhounds hope Angulo and Dallman can continue their outstanding regular-season form as they visit No. 2-seed Orlando City in the quarterfinals of the USL PRO Playoffs Saturday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

    Also set for Saturday are the other three quarterfinals, with the No. 4-seed Harrisburg City Islanders hosting the No. 5-seed Charlotte Eagles at Skyline Sports Complex at 2 p.m. ET, the No. 1-seed Richmond Kickers hosting the No. 8-seed Dayton Dutch Lions at City Stadium at 7 p.m. ET, and the No. 3-seed and defending champion Charleston Battery hosting the No. 6-seed Los Angeles Blues at Blackbaud Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET.

    Stay up to date with all of the action in the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs through the league’s free online streaming service, USLNation.com, and also follow the race for the playoffs via Twitter (@USLPRO), Facebook and Google+ for live updates from every game, plus news, previews and recaps of all the action.

    2013 USL PRO Regular Season Honors

    Scoring Champion
    Jose Angulo, Pittsburgh Riverhounds

    Golden Boot
    Jose Angulo, Pittsburgh Riverhounds
    Dom Dwyer, Orlando City

    Assist Champion
    Matt Dallman, Pittsburgh Riverhounds

    Goals-Against Average Champion
    Andrew Dykstra, Richmond Kickers 


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    Victoria Highlanders News Release -- www.victoriahighlandersfc.com

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013

    VICTORIA, B.C. -- The Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer have invited Victoria Highlanders FC standout Brett Levis to trial with them this week.

    The 20-year old midfielder/striker had a great season with the Highlanders. Levis led the team in points during the regular season with 23 on nine goals and five assists. He finished ninth in the 64-team PDL and earned a place on the All-Western Conference Team. In the playoffs Levis added three goals to lead the Highlanders to the PDL’s Western Conference Championship.

    Levis flew from his native Saskatoon to Vancouver yesterday and had his first trial with the Whitecaps today, which he good about.

    “I’m definitely nervous but quite excited. Today was the first session and it went well. I felt like I fit in well and now I can adapt and see how the next few go,” said Levis.

    This opportunity came as a surprise to Levis who had flown home to begin training camp with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

    “It was out of the blue,” said Levis. “The Huskies training camp had started up and my coaches mentioned that they (Whitecaps) asked about me when I was in Victoria. The assistant coach called Bryce (Chapmen, Head Coach of the Huskies) and asked to set up a trial.”

    Levis credits his outstanding season with the Highlanders and the experience it provided him as a large part of him earning the trial.

    “Definitely the Highlanders are one of the major reasons why I’m here,” said Levis. “I had a really good season with the Highlanders and the playoffs helped me get seen more. I thank the team and everybody working with the team to help get me here. It was a great season.”

    The Highlanders wish Levis the best at his trial with the Whitecaps and in his upcoming season with the Huskies.


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    USL PRO News Release

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO named its Team of the Week for the final week of the season on Tuesday, with Richmond Kickers forward Matt Delicâte earning Player of the Week honors after scoring both goals in the Kickers’ 2-0 victory against Orlando City this past Wednesday night. The victory allowed Richmond to claim the USL PRO Regular Season Championship, and earn the No. 1 seed in the upcoming USL PRO Playoffs, which kick off on Saturday.

    Delicâte, the Kickers’ all-time leading scorer, had struggled for much of the season with injury, but came into his own down the stretch as the Kickers held off Orlando’s challenge. The veteran striker had a pair of goals in his previous outing against Dayton, and then struck twice in a five-minute span against the Lions as the Kickers claimed a season sweep against the two-time defending regular season champions.

    The Kickers had another two players named to the USL PRO Team of the Week, with goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra being selected after recording a five-save shutout against Orlando, and defender Alex Lee being named after a pair of strong performances to cap his rookie season.

    Dayton’s Gibson Bardsley joined Delicâte in the Team of the Week attack after his goal and two assists led the Dutch Lions to a 3-1 victory against Harrisburg that clinched the first playoff berth in club history. He was joined by Brock Granger, who was strong at the heart of the Dutch Lions’ defense against a potent City Islanders attack that finished the season with the most goals in USL PRO (55).

    Charlotte’s Christian Ramirez completed the attacking trio after his two goals and assist helped Charlotte earn a 3-3 draw with Tampa Bay. The rookie surpassed the 20-point mark this season with his performance.

    Los Angeles’ Shay Spitz earned selection after his goal and assist helped the Blues earn a 2-1 win against Rochester on Saturday night. The midfield quartet was led by Charleston’s Ben Fisk, who provided a spark off the bench for the Battery in their 3-0 win against Antigua, and he was joined by Orlando’s Freddie Braun, who had the only goal in the Lions’ 1-0 win against Charlotte. Pittsburgh’s Rob Vincent, who had the assist on Jose Angulo’s goal against Richmond, and Rochester’s Danny Earls, who began Rochester’s comeback against Phoenix, completed the Team of the Week selections.

    The 2013 USL PRO Playoffs kick off this Saturday, stay up to date with every game through the league’s free online streaming service, USLNation.com, and also follow the race for the playoffs via Twitter (@USLPRO), Facebook and Google+ for live updates from every game, plus news, previews and recaps of all the action.

    USL PRO Team of the Week

    Pos

    Player 

    Team

    Highlights

    GK

    Andrew Dykstra

    Richmond

    Had five saves in shutout of Orlando as Kickers claimed title

    D

    Brock Granger

    Dayton

    Solid performance as the Dutch Lions rallied past Harrisburg

    D

    Shay Spitz

    Los Angeles

    Goal and assist helped Blues take victory against Rochester

    D

    Alex Lee

    Richmond

    Two strong outings as Kickers earned four points in two games.

    M

    Ben Fisk

    Charleston

    Had an assist, provided spark off bench against Antigua

    M

    Freddie Braun

    Orlando

    Scored the only goal as Lions edged past Charlotte

    M

    Rob Vincent

    Pittsburgh

    Provided assist, solid midfield play in 1-1 draw with Kickers

    M

    Danny Earls

    Rochester

    Put Rhinos on comeback trail with goal against Phoenix

    F

    Christian Ramirez

    Charlotte

    Two goals and assist helped Eagles earn point against Tampa Bay

    F

    Gibson Bardsley

    Dayton

    Had a goal, two assists as Dutch Lions claimed playoff place

    F

    Matt Delicâte

    Richmond

    Scored both goals as Kickers claimed regular season title

    Honorable Mention: Antigua – Orlando Mitchum, Tamorley Thomas; Charleston – Dane Kelly, Odisnel Cooper; Charlotte – Drew Yates, Alonso Jimenez; Dayton – Eli Garner, Brandon Swartzendruber; Harrisburg – Coady Andrews; Los Angeles – Matt Fondy, George Davis; Orlando – Adama Mbengue; Pittsburgh –Jose Angulo, Michael Green; Richmond – Joseph Ngwenya, Shane Johnson; Rochester – Tam McManus, Mike Reidy; Tampa Bay – Douglas Dos Santos, Chad Burt; Wilmington – Cody Arnoux, Steven Perry.


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    PDL Feature

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    The Watch List for the 2013 MAC Hermann Trophy was announced on Tuesday afternoon, with 21 PDL alumni among the 34 players to watch this fall as the NCAA Division I season kicks off. Leading the way was 2012 award winner Patrick Mullins of the New Orleans Jesters, with 2012 PDL Defender of the Year Christian Ibeagha of the Carolina Dynamo and Reading United standout Steve Neumann also among the leading contenders for this year’s award.

    Mullins claimed the most prestigious award in NCAA Division I men’s soccer last season after a strong summer for the Jesters, where he scored seven goals and added an assist in 12 appearances. He went on to have an outstanding season for the Terrapins, where he led the team with 17 goals and 10 assists in 24 games.

    Neumann is one of four current or former Reading United players to be named to the watch list, with the Georgetown standout coming off another solid summer in the PDL. Neumann has scored six goals and recorded six assists in 20 appearances for Reading in the past two regular seasons, helping his side reach the postseason both times. Standout Reading goalkeeper John McCarthy, a 2012 All-Conference selection when with the Ocean City Nor’easters, Patrick Slogic and Pedro Ribeiro were also named to the watch list.

    Coming off his Defender of the Year award in 2012, Ibeagha had another solid season for the Dynamo this summer ahead of his return to Duke. The powerful center back helped lead one of the toughest defenses in the PDL as the Dynamo conceded only nine goals in 14 games. He is joined on the watch list by former Dynamo teammate Boyd Okwuonu, also a former member of the U.S. U20 national team, who played a key role in the club reaching the 2012 PDL Championship Game.

    A number of players on the list spent this past summer in the PDL’s Northwest Division, with Victoria Highlanders defender Matt Polster, Portland Timbers U-23s forwards Mark Sherrod and Reinaldo Brenes, Sounders FC U-23 forward David Geno and Washington Crossfire goalkeeper Spencer Richey all being named to the list.

    Other notables include the Real Colorado Foxes’ Kyle Venter, who returns to New Mexico as the No. 5-ranked player in the nation according to TopDrawerSoccer.com, and K-W United’s Liam Collins, who was a stalwart in midfield ahead of his return to Memphis this fall. 


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    W-League Feature

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    As she and her Washington Spirit Reserves teammates walked off the field at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex on July 13, having suffered a 2-1 defeat against the Virginia Beach Piranhas, a familiar tune started to play over the public address system.

    “We Are The Champions”, by Queen.

    It was appropriate, of course. The Piranhas had claimed the W-League’s regular-season championship, finishing top of the Northeastern Conference with only one loss all season. For Stobbs and her teammates, who would return the following weekend for the Northeastern Conference Championship Game, it certainly provided motivation for the week of training that was ahead.

    “We were like, ‘Hold on, you haven’t made it to the final four yet, why are you playing that song?’” Stobbs said by phone this week. “I think that fueled us for the game after, because we were like, ‘they think they’re the champions, let’s just show them now how much we can play.’”

    The Spirit Reserves would take their revenge, with Stobbs providing the assist as Ashley Herndon scored the game-winner in a 2-1 victory that sent the side on to the W-League Championship at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. the following week. While the Spirit Reserves came up short in the semifinals against eventual champion the Pali Blues, Stobbs said she appreciated the experience of reaching the championship weekend, and playing in the league throughout the summer.

    “The W-League was very fun,” she said. “You have a good selection of different players from different colleges, a lot of different areas, and then obviously I think the Spirit took it quite seriously on what players they would select, so I played with some great players. The standard of individuals was one of the best I’ve played on, the girls from Stanford, girls from UVA, girls from Virginia Tech, loads of different schools, we all got on really well, and we were all really competitive.”

    Stobbs herself was at the forefront of that competitiveness. A creator more than a scorer, even going back to her days playing in Chelsea and Arsenal’s youth academies, Stobbs finished tied for the league lead with nine assists in the W-League. While statistics like assists have been relatively slow to catch on in Europe, Stobbs appreciates that the work she does to set up teammates is valued in North America.

    “When you get recognized for assists, it shows everyone, yeah, I may not score all the goals, but I do help out,” Stobbs said. “It is nice for someone else to get credit for the goal that happened.”

    And her competitiveness meant that as the season went on, she was certainly keeping an eye on who else was competing with her for the league lead. After finishing tied with Juliana Libertin of the Dayton Dutch Lions, Stobbs was very pleased with her accomplishment.

    “I got quite competitive about it during the season, I would check how I did, and how I was doing in [the league leaders],” she said. “When I got it, it was really good. It was just a really good feeling to get recognized, even though you’re not the one putting the ball in the back of the net.”

    Stobbs is hoping her form from the W-League season will carry through into the fall as she returns to Hofstra, and is also hoping for some better fortune when it comes to injuries. Each of her first three seasons with the Pride have been brought to and end prematurely through injury, a fractured clavicle the culprit in both 2011 and 2012. With Hofstra getting set to defend its Colonial Athletic Association crown, Stobbs is hoping to play a major role on a team that returns 10 starters from a season ago.

    “Obviously I’d like to play a big role in the team,” she said. “I want to take off to the championship final and win another ring, and I want to push for more than just one round of the NCAA Tournament. We always manage to face [Boston College] in the first round, we beat UConn in the my freshman year and it was amazing to move on to the second round, and I think everybody here wants to crush the conference, get the ring and then move on as far in the NCAA Tournament as we can.”

    As for Stobbs, the experience she gained competing for the Spirit Reserves, and alongside the players in the club’s NWSL squad, has her motivated to elevate her game so that following her graduation she will be able to turn professional in the United States.

    “For me at the moment, my main aim is to do well in college and develop so that I can be a player in the [NWSL],” Stobbs said. “I would rather play over here than in England, but my main aim is to play soccer after college, so my first option is here, but if that doesn’t work out, I will find somewhere else to play.”

    Whatever happens, though, Stobbs sees soccer playing a major role in whatever she does in the future.

    “A lot of girls will just stop playing after college, and some of the Americans look at us English like we’re crazy. They’re like ‘you really love soccer that much that you want play after college?’ And I’ll be like ‘yeah, that’s what I’m here for,’” she said. “There’s a big chance; my main aim is to do well the next two years and hopefully progress on to the professional league over here.” 


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    USL PRO Feature

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    One of the longest serving USL franchises has been the Charlotte Eagles, who joined as a PDL team in 1993 and moved to the professional divisions two years later. USL Second Division champions in 2000 and 2005, the Eagles have continued to put a quality product on the field while also adding an equally successful W-League team in 2000.

    In addition to the two teams, the club also operates the largest and most popular sports camp program in the Greater Charlotte Area, Learn from the Pros™ Soccer Camps. Known not only for their success on the field, but also for their dedication to the surrounding communities, the Eagles continue to provide positive role models and a family-friendly entertainment product.

    Owned and operated by Missionary Athletes International, the Eagles are led by MAI President Patrick Stewart.


    Q: What inspired you to acquire the franchise?

    PS: Brian Davidson was the founder of the Charlotte Eagles, a division of MAI. The mission of MAI is to see lives transformed and Brian felt that a pro team that modeled how that transformation affected behavior on and off the field would add credibility to the message.

    What is your favorite aspect of operating your team?

    Seeing the transformation of people's lives as they come to a place of recognizing that their identity is not based on their performance. In particular, the last few years of having players who live in urban neighborhoods to mentor inner-city youth has been especially rewarding.

    What differentiates your franchise from others?

    We are a non-profit religious organization so we are driven by metrics of changed lives rather than other metrics like attendance. Our goal is to generate support for the organization based on our mission impact rather than financial return.

    What words of advice would you provide to potential franchise owners?

    Do your homework on the market. Be conservative in your financial projections. Don't let pride and ego drive you to make emotional decisions about competitiveness on the field instead of objective business decisions. Don't count on the youth soccer organizations to support you - they are busy with their own issues.

    Where do you see your franchise in 3-5 years?

    We want to be more involved in youth development through our Urban Eagles program. We believe that we have a unique value proposition to offer youth that has been applied in all of our teams, including the Charlotte Eagles, the Lady Eagles, and the Southern California Seahorses (PDL).

    What is the most challenging aspect of your franchise/team?

    As a non-profit organization, we have to be able to operate on a break-even basis without the backing of an ownership group to fund operating losses. This puts a lot of pressure on us to make decisions driven by cash flow.

    What traits do you find valuable when adding members to your staff?

    The primary requirement is alignment with our mission, but in addition, we need flexible self-starters who are willing to serve because our mission is more important than individual fulfillment.

    How does your previous employment/business experience translate into running a successful sports franchise?

    I was involved in two startup operations for a regional health insurance organization, so I know what it's like to operate in a low-structure, entrepreneurial environment. I also co-founded a consulting organization that was built on our sweat equity, which prepared me to pinch pennies and operate by faith.

    Who has been the greatest influence in your career? Please explain.

    In the book of Proverbs, Solomon writes: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans.” I applied this in the different positions I held for the 20 years prior to coming to the Eagles/MAI. For the past 11 years, I’ve been surrounded by an amazing group of men and women who work together as a team because we all pursue a value of “Ministry first, soccer second.” I’m influenced on a daily basis by the lives of the people I work with. It’s a very fulfilling environment to be a part of.


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    W-League Feature

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    The Women’s College Soccer season kicks off on Friday, with a number of W-League standouts set to be featured on national television during the weekend. Players from the 2013 champion Pali Blues, as well as the Long Island Rough Riders, North Jersey Valkyries, LA Strikers and Colorado Rush will all be featured as they try to get their respective schools off to winning starts.

    The Blues’ Sarah Killion will be among those expected to lead the way for No. 5 UCLA this season, and the Bruins open the season with a pair of games that can be seen on the Pac-12 Network. Killion, who had two goals and eight assists for the Blues this summer, will be joined by Pali teammates Samantha Mewis, Jenna Richmond and Abby Dahlkemper, with the Bruins set to face Northeastern on Friday evening at 9 p.m. ET, and then Cal State Northridge, who will feature the LA Strikers’ Chloe McDaniel and Leandra Walker, on Sunday, 9 p.m. ET.

    Another member of the Blues’ championship-winning side will begin her season on the east coast, with No. 3 Florida State set to host Auburn in a big inter-conference contest on ESPN3 on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET. Defender Kassey Kallman is expected to play a big role for the Seminoles this season as they seek to return to the College Cup, and she will be part of a back line that plays in front of former Colorado Rush goalkeeper Kelsey Wys, who earlier this week was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List.

    ESPN3 is also the place to see a pair of games from St. John’s this weekend that see former Long Island Rough Riders teammates go head-to-head as the Red Storm host Delaware on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET and Fordham on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. St. John’s is hoping for big things from senior defender Hailey Hemmer, who made nine appearances for the Rough Riders this past summer as she recorded a goal and an assist.

    The Blue Hens, meanwhile, are hoping for good performances from defender Dianna Marinaro, who appeared 10 times for Long Island this summer, and Andrea Arnold. The North Jersey Valkyries’ Rachel Vaccaro could also feature as she enters her junior season. 


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    USL PRO News Release

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The 2013 USL PRO Playoffs kick off on Saturday as the road to the USL PRO Championship begins with four quarterfinal contests. The regular-season champion Richmond Kickers open the playoffs against first-time playoff side the Dayton Dutch Lions, with other contests in Orlando, Fla., Charleston, S.C., and Harrisburg, Pa. all set to provide compelling competition for a place in the semifinals.

    No. 1 Richmond Kickers vs. No. 8 Dayton Dutch Lions
    Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium

    After only losing once in the regular season the Kickers face a side in Dayton that it has never lost to, going 7-0-1 in its previous meetings in the league and U.S. Open Cup. The Kickers’ success was fueled by the stingiest defense in USL PRO, which only conceded 24 goals in 26 games, and a balanced attack that saw no-one score double-digit goals, but six players score at least four goals. Joseph Ngwenya led the way with nine goals and five assists, with Brian Ownby recording seven goals and six assists on loan from the Houston Dynamo.

    While Richmond clinched the regular-season title in the penultimate game of the season, Dayton needed victory in its final contest against Harrisburg Saturday to claim its first postseason berth in club history. Goals by leading scorer Gibson Bardsley (nine goals, seven assists), Eli Garner and Brandon Swartzendruber gave the Dutch Lions a 3-1 win, but they will need to find a way to accomplish another first and advance to the semifinals.

    No. 2 Orlando City vs. No. 7 Pittsburgh Riverhounds
    Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Florida Citrus Bowl

    After falling short of a third consecutive regular-season championship, Orlando City is aiming to win its second USL PRO Championship in three seasons, but it will be tested by a Pittsburgh Riverhounds side that won the season series against the Lions. Pittsburgh was one of two teams to go into the Florida Citrus Bowl and take victory in the regular season, something Adrian Heath’s side will aim to reverse with the help of 2012 Most Valuable Player Kevin Molino and Dennis Chin.

    The Riverhounds, meanwhile, are coming off a solid 1-1 draw with Richmond in their final game of the season, a contest that saw Jose Angulo record his 15th goal of the season. Angulo and Matt Dallman (12 assists) were pivotal players throughout the regular season for Pittsburgh, but a defense led by Andrew Marshall and Rich Costanzo that shut out Orlando in both meetings in the regular season may be the key to Saturday’s quarterfinal.

    No. 3 Charleston Battery vs. No. 6 Los Angeles Blues
    Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Blackbaud Stadium

    The Charleston Battery begin the defense of their championship at Blackbaud Stadium, where they finished with a record of 9-1-4 this season. Among those nine victories was a 3-0 win against the Los Angeles Blues that saw Dane Kelly score one of his team-leading 11 goals, and the Battery will look to him and Nicki Paterson, who returns after sitting out the final game of the regular season due to suspension, to lead the team into the semifinals.

    The Blues will pose a threat, however, as they make the trip east in their return to the postseason. Matt Fondy scored twice as Los Angeles took a 2-1 win against Charleston in California earlier this month, and has been outstanding since rejoining the team with 10 goals in 10 games. Battery Player of the Year Colin Falvey and the rest of the Charleston defense will need to be focused to withstand the threat of Fondy and Chris Cortez (nine goals) as the Blues try to spring an upset.

    No. 4 Harrisburg City Islanders vs. No. 5 Charlotte Eagles
    Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, Skyline Sports Complex

    The Harrisburg City Islanders host the Charlotte Eagles in a contest that saw both teams take victory on the road in the regular season. Harrisburg, in fact, struggled at times at home, posting a better away record (7-4-1) than at the friendly confines of Skyline Sports Complex (7-6-1). Despite that, the City Islanders will be hopeful of moving on as their strong attacking duo of Sainey Touray and Lucky Mkosana (28 points apiece) lead what the club hopes will be a return to the USL PRO Championship Game.

    The Eagles, meanwhile, were solid on the road throughout the regular season, going 3-2-7 on their travels. Led by Jorge Herrera (10 goals, four assists) and rookie Christian Ramirez (eight goals, five assists), the Eagles have also been boosted offensively in the latter part of the season by Drew Yates, with the former Maryland standout having recorded six assists to lead the team. Charlotte is hoping to replicate its 2-1 victory in Harrisburg earlier this month, while the City Islanders are hoping for a repeat of their 4-0 victory in Charlotte on June 1 as both look to advance to the semifinals.

    Stay up to date with all of the action in the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs through the league’s free online streaming service, USLNation.com, and also follow the race for the playoffs via Twitter (@USLPRO), Facebook and Google+ for live updates from every game, plus news, previews and recaps of all the action.


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    Saturday, August 24, 2013

    RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers advanced to the semifinals of the USL PRO Playoffs, edging the Dayton Dutch Lions 1-0 on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 4,265 at City Stadium. Kickers midfielder Joseph Ngwenya gave the home side the advantage with a second-half goal and goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra posted three saves to preserve the shutout to keep the Kickers undefeated at City Stadium this season.

    With a berth to the semifinals and home-field advantage on the line, the Kickers tested Dayton goalkeeper Matt Williams in the sixth minute when a free kick just from outside the penalty rebounded out to Luke Vercollone. The veteran midfielder flicked the ball back into the mix and found Alex Lee in the air, but his header soared just wide.

    The Dutch Lions retaliated three minutes later when a long ball from their own half found Eli Garner in the Kickers' half. Heavily marked at the left touchline, the swift forward muscled his way to the box and turned his mark but hooked his shot just wide of the near post.

    Just past the half-hour mark, Vercollone intercepted the ball in the midfield and played it wide to Brian Ownby. Racing down the left wing, he drove a low shot from point blank range but Dutch Lions defender Shintaro Harada rushed in for a last-second clearance over the end line.

    A few moments later, Dutch Lions midfielder Joel DeLass battled for possession on the right flank, eluded his defender and rocketed a low shot to the near post but Dykstra smothered his attempt.

    Minutes before the break, Kickers defender Sascha Görres whipped a cross into the box from deep on the left side, connecting with Matthew Delicate at the back post but his target man’s header glanced just wide to send the teams into the locker room scoreless.

    Following the restart, Dayton attempted to break the deadlock when Garner exploded down the left wing with Kickers defenders in hot pursuit. Drawing them nearly to the endline, he sliced a curling cross into the box, finding Gibson Bardsley in prime position but the resulting shot was batted away by Dykstra.

    The Kickers answered back in the 62nd minute when Ownby stole the ball in Dayton’s half and was off to the races down the right sideline. Drawing the keeper, and Dayton defenders, he slotted a square ball into the path of Delicate, but the forward could not reach the cross in time as Williams swatted the ball from harm’s way.

    The home side was not to be denied again four minutes later when a poor clearance ricocheted behind the defense to an onrushing Ngwenya. Streaking through the midfield, he latched onto the loose ball and barreled into the penalty area. Facing Williams one-on-one, he calmly tapped in a low ball just inside the right post.

    Vercollone nearly doubled the score in the final minutes of regulation when second-half substitute Nate Robinson played the ball back to the midfielder posted at the top of the box. but his laser shot through traffic was deflected over the crossbar.

    In a last gasp effort to level the score, Dayton forward Brandon Swartzendruber swept up a loose ball in the midfield and fed it through to an unmarked Joe Broekhuizen. With the club’s postseason future on the line, he struck a low, driven shot on target but Dykstra threw himself off his line to parry the ball wide to send the Kickers through to the next round.

    The Kickers return to City Stadium next Saturday, August 31 to host the Charlotte Eagles in the semifinals of the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.

     


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