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News from USL

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    USL Feature

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Real Salt Lake took control of the Western Conference Final on Sunday night as Robbie Findley had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 victory in the first leg against the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium. The former Boulder Rapids Reserves standout shone in the absence of Alvaro Saborio to help RSL take a commanding lead into the contest’s second leg in two weeks.

    The Timbers took the lead in the first 15 minutes on a brilliant free kick by Will Johnson, but RSL hit back just past the half-hour mark as former Chicago Fire U-23 defender Chris Schuler continued his outstanding postseason with another goal as he headed home a free kick by Javier Morales.

    Four minutes before halftime, Findley gave his side the lead as he pressed Timbers defender Mamadou Danso into a mistake, stole possession and finished coolly past Donovan Ricketts. The U.S. international, who had 15 goals in 17 games in two seasons for the Rapids Reserves, then provided the assist for RSL’s third, taking a pass from Morales before centering for Devon Sandoval to turn and finish.

    Morales capped a strong display with RSL’s fourth from a header with eight minutes to go, but the Timbers gave themselves a glimmer of hope ahead of the second leg late in stoppage time as Frederic Piquionne headed home a cross by Jack Jewsbury to reduce the deficit to two goals.

    Saturday’s first leg of the Eastern Conference Final between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo produced less fireworks, with the two sides playing to a 0-0 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium. Findley’s teammate with the Rapids Reserves, Tally Hall, put in another solid performance for the Dynamo as he made a pair of saves to keep his side even on aggregate.

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    LA Blues Soccer Club News Release - 

    November 11, 2013

    LOS ANGELES – Pali Blues SC and LA Strikers FC, who finished as the top two Western Conference teams this past season, are pleased to announce that they have merged to form the LA Blues Soccer Club, set to begin competing during the 2014 W-League season.

    “On behalf of the Mansouri family, I want to express our excitement,” longtime Pali Blues President and Head Coach Charlie Naimo said. “Our focus the last couple years has shifted dramatically to what happens on the field, so it is a natural fit to partner with Steve and his group. They have been doing great things outside the lines. Joining forces will give the Blues brand the components to reach new levels.

    “Many of us are still shaken by the loss of the LA Sol and a professional women’s soccer team in the SoCal area. I am confident this merger is a major step in filling that void for all the local fans,” he added.

    “I am incredibly excited about the potential for the new team,” LA Blues co-owner Steve Miller commented. “Having Charlie Naimo managing and Tracey Kevins directing the team is an owner’s dream. I can’t wait to show SoCal what women’s soccer is all about.”

    The Pali Blues have proudly been a top off-season destination for many collegiate standouts, as well as domestic national team stars and some of the top international talent, since their first W-League season in 2008. With players of such caliber, Blues Naimo has seen the Blues take three W-League championships in six years. Pali was undefeated in its first two seasons, ending both with championships, and has since established itself as a powerhouse team.

    The Blues fell just short of the league championship in 2012, losing a penalty kick shootout, but redeemed themselves with a victory in the title match this past season, defeating the Laval Comets 1-0.

    The Blues have helped develop many of the world’s top talent including U.S. Women’s National Team standouts such as Alex Morgan, Lauren Holiday, Tobin Heath, Whitney Engen, Kelley O’Hara, and Christen Press, Mexico’s Iris Mora, New Zeland’s Ali Riley, England’s Karen Bardsley, Australia’s Collete McCallum and Kirsty Yallop, and Denmark’s Cathrine Paaske-Sorensen and Julie Rydahl Bukh.

    The LA Strikers, who joined the W-League in 2010, are coming off a successful season under Head Coach Tracy Kevins, who led the Barnet Bees to the FA Cup Championship in 2010, and coached England’s Women’s National Team. The Strikers made the playoffs this year for the first time in franchise history, where they lost to the Blues after defeating them twice in the regular season. The Strikers finished the 2013 season with an 8-4-0 record, winning more games than in their previous two seasons combined.

    “I was extremely impressed with what Tracey did last year and after spending time with her it was clear why she’s been successful,” Naimo said. “Not only does she know the game inside and out, she is a fantastic judge of talent and a true professional.”

    “I am really excited to be working with Charlie,” said Kevins, Blues Technical Director. “With his recruiting prowess and my coaching ability, we have the makings of a strong team both on and off the field.”

    The Blues expect to make more announcements soon with plans for a new venue underway. For more information, please follow the Blues on twitter (@LABluesSC), and on, or visit

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    W-League Feature

    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    ORLANDO, Fla. – A little more than two years ago, Sydney Leroux was part of one of the more memorable games in recent W-League history.

    The setting was the Western Conference Championship. The Vancouver Whitecaps Women, which also included such standouts as Canadian international Kalyn Kyle and Tiffany Weimer, looked to return to the W-League Championship as they faced the Santa Clarita Blue Heat on the road. After a back-and-forth contest that saw Leroux record a goal and an assist, the Whitecaps took a 4-3 victory through a late winner by Jenna Richardson to earn a place in the semifinals in Seattle.

    While the game was only two years ago, as Leroux looked back ahead of Sunday’s U.S. Women’s National Team contest against Brazil at the Florida Citrus Bowl, it certainly seemed a lot longer ago to the 23-year-old standout.

    “It’s crazy to think that three years ago I wasn’t really on the national team, so the W-League was my only kind of look because I had just finished college,” Leroux said. “It was really good for us, it was a back-and-forth game [against Santa Clarita] I remember, it was a long time ago, but I really enjoyed playing, it was fun.”

    The fact that it does seem a long time ago to Leroux speaks to the quick ascent she has made in the women’s game, and the national consciousness. After making the decision to represent the United States on the national stage, Leroux has made 42 appearances and scored 22 goals as she has become part of a deadly attacking trio with Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan.

    Those who saw her play for the Whitecaps Women, and in college for UCLA, certainly were aware of Leroux’s scoring prowess. She had 11 goals in 11 games for Vancouver in 2011, earning the league’s Rookie of the Year award, and when the call came from former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage to join the side for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, she quickly asserted herself as an important piece of the puzzle, providing instant offense off the bench with her standout speed and finishing.

    “It happened pretty quickly,” Leroux said. “Then next year I ended up making the Olympic team, and we ended up winning. It’s been a wild two years, and I definitely wouldn’t change it for anything.”

    Leroux’s experience in Vancouver wasn’t her last with the W-League, however. After the demise of WPS following the 2011 season, Leroux and fellow national team members Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Stephanie Cox and Hope Solo all signed with the Seattle Sounders Women ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

    In contrast to the previous season with Vancouver, Leroux and her fellow national team members were now the attraction, and in the position of acting as role models for the younger players they trained and played alongside while in Seattle.

    “I think we had so much fun in Seattle, it was great,” Leroux said. “Me, Alex, Hope, Megan, Steph, I mean we all had such a blast, and it was a really cool thing to be in the city, especially right before we were going to the Olympics, and the girls, to be some of their role models was pretty cool, because I know what it’s like to play with some of my role models, so I know the feeling, and I’m guessing that was pretty cool.”

    Leroux now plies her trade on the club level for the Boston Breakers in the newly formed NWSL, which just concluded its first season. After a standout year that saw her score 11 goals in 19 games, Leroux is pleased with the standing of the league as it aims to grow its popularity during the coming years.

    One of the factors that could help the new league find its place in the soccer hierarchy is expanded partnership with Major League Soccer and its clubs. After the on- and off-field success of the Portland Thorns, the only current NWSL club to be owned by an MLS franchise, Leroux is hopeful there will be more cooperation between the two leagues and their clubs in the future.

    “I think so,” she said. “I think Portland did such a fantastic job, and I think that every single club is looking at Portland to see how they were so successful, and I think that was one of the reasons why they were so successful, because they had the backing of the Timbers and of Portland. Obviously, that’s our hope, that we can continue to connect with MLS.”

    For Leroux and her national teammates, though, the start of 2014 brings a renewed focus on the next international cycle, and the 2015 World Cup. While the U.S. has won the past three Olympic gold medals, it has been since 1999 that the side has claimed the World Cup. With Tom Sermanni now at the helm, the side is aiming to complete an undefeated year against Brazil as it starts building a platform for victory in Canada two years from now.

    “I think that’s all every single girl wants right now on the U.S. Women’s National Team is to win that gold medal,” Leroux said. “It would be a lot different if they had won it in 2011, but they didn’t. Winning an Olympics is amazing as it is, but it isn’t the World Cup, so we’re hungry for that, and I believe we’re going to have the best 11 people on the field, the best team, and we’re going to do what we can to win.” 

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    Dayton Dutch Lions News Release --

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    DAYTON, Ohio – Dayton Dutch Lions FC has signed Sid van Druenen as the new Head Coach of its USL PRO team. Van Druenen will take over the role from Patrick Bal, who left the club following the 2013 season for a coaching position in Thailand. Van Druenen joined the Dayton Dutch Lions FC in 2011 and was Head Coach of the club's W-League team in 2013, leading the side to its first regular season Conference Championship.

    "In the last two years I have always been able to challenge and development myself continuously within the Dayton Dutch Lions FC organization," van Dreuenen said. "Being the new Head Coach of the USL PRO team for the 2014 season is another great step in my coaching career and I want to thank the club and Mike Mossel for the many opportunities I have been given since I've joined the club as a youth coach in 2011. Now my main focus is putting together a competitive roster so we can continue to build on last seasons success."

    Dutch Lions President Mike Mossel said van Druenen was pleased to announce the hiring as the Dutch Lions look to build on reaching the playoffs for the first time this past season.

    “When we found out Patrick was leaving to go to Thailand we looked at who is best capable of continuing the path we set our three years ago, and that is to climb the USL PRO ladder every year," Mossel said. "We had some high-caliber candidates, but based on what Sid has done with the Women’s team this year – both on and off the field by building a good relationship with the local universities, community and academy – Sid was my first choice. Besides his success with the Women’s team he knows the league, our players and vision and culture of our club. He is also very composed, authentic and committed. I am convinced he is the right person to keep our current team together and add some extra quality so we can compete again for the playoffs in 2014 and get our fans excited again like last year.”

    Van Druenen started his coaching career in Portugal at the age of 18. 12 years later he has coaching experience with all ages, genders and levels in Portugal, the Netherlands and the United States. Van Druenen also holds a bachelor degree in sport science, the UEFA 'B'coaching license and will be taking his 'A' license coaching course in January, 2014.

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  • 11/08/13--15:18: Walsh to Return for 2014

  • Laval Comets News Release - 

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    LAVAL, Quebec - Quebec native Cindy Walsh, who was appointed as head coach of the Laval Comets in 2013 and promptly led Laval to within one game of a title, will return for the 2014 season. Walsh enjoyed a dream season in 2013, leading the Comets to the Central Conference title and the W-League final, two goals never previously achieved by the organization. She was also named W-League Coach of the Year.

    Walsh played 11 seasons in the W-League with four different teams, the Laval Dynamites, the Toronto Inferno, the Western Mass Pioneers and the Comets. Also an experienced coach, she has served as the assistant to the technical director of the Regional Soccer Association of the South Shore since 2009, overseeing the female regional selection (U-13) of the South Shore. She also worked as an assistant coach with Team Quebec from 2007 to 2009.

    "We knew that Cindy had the potential to create this level of play, but it still surprised us with the speed of learning," Comets General Manager Philippe Ciarlo said. "Her great strength was quickly adapting and changing the style and game system to propel the team to the top. Despite the success of the early season, she quickly realized that it would not last."

    Walsh, under the influence of emotion , announced to her team at the end of the season that she would not return in 2014 to focus on her family. However, following a recent meeting with the CEO, she has decide to return.

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    USL Feature

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Chris Schuler’s extra-time goal lifted Real Salt Lake into the Western Conference Final of the MLS Playoffs on Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium as his side overcame a first-leg deficit to defeat the LA Galaxy 2-1 on aggregate.

    The former Chicago Fire U-23 player’s goal capped a standout performance for the center back, who helped shackle the Galaxy’s potent attack for a second consecutive game. The defending champions only managed two shots on goal in the contest as Schuler and Nat Borchers, who played for the Boulder Rapids Reserves in the PDL, were able to limit clear looks at goal. Schuler’s performance earned him MLSSoccer’s Man of the Match award.

    RSL fought to get back on even terms just past the half-hour mark as Christian Velasquez headed home a cross by former Brooklyn Knights defender Chris Wingert. Schuler then hit the crossbar with a header in the 75th minute, and RSL appeared to take the lead with fewer than 10 minutes remaining as a free kick by Javier Morales floated into the back of the net after eluding its targets in the penalty area. The 2009 champion claimed the victory in the 102nd minute, however, as Schuler was able to get on the end of Morales’ free kick at the back post to volley home a finish.

    Awaiting RSL in the Western Conference Final are the Portland Timbers, who completed their victory against Cascadia rivals the Seattle Sounders with a 3-2 victory at Jeld-Wen Field. The Timbers, who held a 2-1 lead following the first leg in Seattle, extended their aggregate advantage to 5-1 early in the second half, with former USL First Division defender Mamadou ‘Futty’ Danso scoring to give his side a 3-0 advantage.

    The Sounders tried to get back into the game, and 2012 PDL All-League selection DeAndre Yedlin found the back of the net with 16 minutes remaining to initiate a belated comeback. Yedlin then played provider two minutes later as Eddie Johnson cut the Sounders’ deficit to two goals, but the mountain proved too large to overcome as the Timbers moved on.

    The MLS Playoffs continue this Saturday with the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final as the Houston Dynamo host Sporting Kansas City at BBVA Compass Field at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC). The Western Conference Final then begins on Sunday night as Real Salt Lake hosts the Portland Timbers at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN).

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    USL PRO News Release

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The 2014 USL PRO Combine is set for January 23-26, 2014 and once again will be held at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The USL PRO Combine provides an opportunity for elite men’s soccer players to showcase their talents for both domestic and international scouts and professional coaches.

    The annual event, now in its eighth year, will feature 102 of the top players from North America and overseas hoping to land a professional contract. To date, more than 150 participants have gone on to sign professional contracts with USL, MLS and international squads since the debut of the combine in 2006. The event attracts top talent from throughout North America, with a majority of the participants coming from the PDL, North America’s leading developmental league for men’s professional soccer.

    The USL PRO Combine will be led by USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor, who will oversee a comprehensive curriculum that challenges participants while providing coaches with the proper environment for evaluation. Coaches expected to participate in the event will include those from USL PRO, MLS and several current PDL coaches and executives.

    “The past two years have proven that IMG Academy is the best possible location for the USL PRO Combine, so we’re excited to be back to Bradenton in 2014,” Mellor said. “The professional environment at IMG Academy raises the level of the event, both on and off the field, and the players have every opportunity to showcase their talent for the coaches in attendance.”

    Past beneficiaries of the event include 2013 USL All-League selection Gibson Bardsley, who scored nine goals and added seven assists for the Dayton Dutch Lions this past season. A pair of players, Matthew Bahner and Jamiel Hardware, went from the 2013 combine to productive minutes for the Harrisburg City Islanders this summer, while a pair of former USL PRO Rookie of the Year selections, Luke Mulholland (Wilmington, 2011) and Jose Cuevas (Charleston, 2012), were also identified at the USL PRO Combine.

    Other former combine participants have gone on to Major League Soccer, with current Sporting Kansas City midfielder Lawrence Olum (Orlando City) and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Tom Heinemann (Charleston Battery) starring at the professional level in USL before making the jump to North America’s top flight.

    Members of the 2013 PDL All-League Team will receive special invitations to participate. Other players hoping to participate in the USL PRO Combine will be selected based, in particular, the past three years of their playing background and their soccer achievements. The application will be available through the “Events” tab on starting on September 23 with a deadline of November 29. Participants will receive local transportation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, lodging, and uniforms.

    “I’m pleased we’re once again able to invite the PDL All-League Team members who demonstrated during the 2013 season that they deserve the opportunity," Mellor said.

    Goalkeepers will report and begin training for the 2014 USL PRO Combine on Thursday, January 23, followed by field players on Friday, January 24. The event concludes on Sunday, January 26.

    IMG Academy, a division of IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media company, is the world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and education complex. For more than 30 years, IMG Academy has helped countless youth, adult, collegiate and professional athletes reach their full potential in and out of sport, by providing world-class coaching, tailored programs and professional facilities within an energetic environment across a 450-acre campus.

    2014 USL PRO Combine Application

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    W-League Feature

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Amber Brooks’ introduction to international soccer wasn’t the most auspicious. The former New Jersey Wildcat, making her first appearance for the U.S. Women’s National Team this past Sunday against Brazil, was an early recipient of a cut on her right cheek.

    After a quick bit of attention on the sideline, though, the former University of North Carolina and current Bayern Munich midfielder put in a solid performance acting as a shield in front of the back four. Brooks’ play capped a good 12 months for the 22-year-old, who has scoring nine goals in 17 appearances in the Frauen Bundesliga since moving to Germany late last season.

    “It was great finishing up with Carolina with a national championship, and then in the new year signing with Bayern Munich, I’ve enjoyed my time over there, and it’s great to get my cap today,” Brooks said following Sunday’s game.

    It certainly will have helped that Brooks had a familiar face alongside her in the center of the midfield, with fellow former Wildcat Carli Lloyd offering support as Brooks moved up to the international level. Brooks, Lloyd and fellow USWNT midfielder Yael Averbuch have been training partners for a number of years at James Galanis’ Universal Soccer Academy, in addition to each having represented the Wildcats in the W-League, giving a familiarity for Lloyd and Brooks as they played off each other well in the 4-1 win.

    “She just told me to play my game,” Brooks said of the brief conversation she and Lloyd had just before kickoff. “I’ve been training with her with our trainer James Galanis out at Universal Soccer Academy for many, many years, and she just said ‘hey, it’s just like training, just do what got you here and what you’ve been doing all week and you’ll be fine’.”

    United States coach Tom Sermanni was pleased with what he saw from Brooks in her first appearance. With Shannon Boxx currently unavailable due to pregnancy, Lloyd believes there is the opportunity for someone like Brooks to prove herself in the No. 6 role as the U.S. looks to start building toward the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

    “It leaves some things open a little bit,” Lloyd said. “I’m comfortable in that defensive-mid role, obviously I’m more of an attacking player, but either role is fine with me. Wherever the team needs me to play, I’ll play, but we obviously need some depth, and I think bringing in these young players, giving them a chance, is only going to make them more confident and make them ready in case they need to be called upon come World Cup time.”

    Sermanni added that Brooks’ consistency in sitting back in the holding role allowed Lloyd to play a more attacking game, which paid dividends for the U.S. going forward.

    “I think it helped Carli,” Sermanni said, “because Carli likes to, as you see, roam around the field, and with having Amber in there as a disciplined player, that helped Carli play her natural game.”

    Brooks believes the holding midfield role is her best position, but as evidenced by her scoring output since arriving at Bayern, she has put an emphasis on improving her offensive play. Should her ability to find the back of the net continue to improve, then her goal of remaining in the mix for a national team position should become a reality as the team moves into 2014.

    Certainly, after a solid first start, the door appears to have opened wider, and Brooks appears determined to walk through.

    “Yeah, definitely, this is a dream come true for me, and obviously a big step forward,” Brooks said. “Hopefully I did well enough and I can continue to get better and just prove that I belong here.” 

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    USL News Release

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – Three individuals have been chosen for the USL Men’s and Women’s Hall of Fame Class of 2013. The lone inductee into the USL Men’s Hall of Fame in 2013 is Charleston Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser (Coach), while Charlotte Lady Eagles President Pat Stewart (Builder) and former Hampton Roads Piranhas star Mercy Akide-Udoh (Player) will join the Women’s Hall of Fame.

    These individuals are being recognized for helping to make USL a success through the years because of their tremendous efforts and personal sacrifices made on behalf of the sport of soccer in North America. Additionally, the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO), Laredo Heat (PDL) and London Gryphons (W-League) are being honored as 10+ Clubs after having completed 10 years in their respective leagues.

    The USL Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be inducted at the USL Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, December 13, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach. Honorees were chosen through a vote of current Hall of Fame members, USL teams and the USL Hall of Fame Committee.

    2013 USL Men’s Hall of Fame Inductee

    Coach – Mike Anhaeuser, Charleston Battery
    A former player and assistant coach with the Battery, Anhaeuser assumed the head coaching position in 2005 and has continued the remarkable success of his predecessors. Named Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2010, Anhaeuser has won two championships with the Battery (2010 and 2012). Anhaeuser’s finest moment may have come in 2008, however, as the Battery advanced to the final of the U.S. Open Cup, becoming the only lower-division club to achieve that feat since the Rochester Rhinos’ championship in 1999.

    In addition to success on the field, Anhaeuser has helped develop young players such as Osvaldo Alonso, Ryan Richter, Lamar Neagle, Tom Heinemann and Alex Caskey, all of whom now feature in Major League Soccer.

    2013 USL Women’s Hall of Fame Inductees

    Builder – Patrick Stewart, Charlotte Lady Eagles
    Stewart has been an integral figure to the Eagles’ success on and off the field since joining the club full-time in 2002. In addition to leading the club to success on the field, the Eagles have reached the W-League postseason six times in the past eight seasons. After advancing to the semifinals in 2006, the Lady Eagles reached the conference finals four consecutive years from 2009-12. Perhaps more importantly, Stewart has helped lead the club’s off-field mission that has helped change the lives of many in inner-city Charlotte.

    Player – Mercy Akide-Udoh, Hampton Roads Piranhas
    One of the most indelible names associated with the Hampton Roads (Virginia Beach) Piranhas, Akide spent seven seasons with the club, helping it to a championship in 2003. Akide appeared in 73 regular season games with the Piranhas, tallying 44 goals and 16 assists. She was named MVP of the 2003 W-League Championship when she scored the winning goal in overtime.

    Also widely recognized as one of the most famous and accomplished women’s player to come out of Africa, Akide represented the Nigerian Women’s National Team nearly 100 times and holds the record for most international goals scored by an African woman. She represented her country at three FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments, two Olympic Games and three African Women’s Championship tournaments. She is also a three-time nominee for FIFA World Player of the Year and has been a two-time FIFA All Star. She earned NAIA All-American honors while playing with Milligan College, and became the first African woman to play professionally when she joined the WUSA’s San Diego Spirit. Akide has been a youth coach with Beach FC in Virginia since 2008.

    2013 USL 10+ Clubs

    Harrisburg City Islanders
    The City Islanders have been one of the more successful members of USL’s professional divisions since joining the USL Second Division in 2004. After reaching the playoffs their first season and the semifinals their second, the City Islanders captured their only title in 2007 in only their fourth season. Overall they’ve reached the postseason eight times in 10 seasons, reaching the final again in 2010, and have posted a regular-season record of 95-66-53 in 10 seasons. Among the former City Islanders now playing in Major League Soccer are Sheanon Williams, who recently made his 100th appearance for the Philadelphia Union, and Tom Heinemann, while the club has been a proving ground for its MLS partner, the Philadelphia Union, with players such as Jack McInerney and Antoine Hoppenot among those to spend time on City Island.

    Laredo Heat
    Success has been a constant for the Laredo Heat, who have reached the postseason each of the past nine seasons. Since 2005 the Heat have captured six division titles and have never finished lower than second, compiling an overall record of 88-34-28 and reaching the title game on four occasions. Laredo reached the pinnacle in 2007, defeating the Michigan Bucks in penalties to capture the PDL title.

    London Gryphons
    The Gryphons joined the W-League in 2004 and enjoyed success early, posting an 8-4-2 record in 2005 to fall a single point short of the playoffs. The mission of the Gryphons organization is its strong commitment to providing its players a world-class environment for soccer training focused on player development. The Gryphons have helped multiple players move on to achieve success, including current Indiana star Jessie Bujouves and former Hoosier Devon Beach.

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    USL News Release

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The Grand Rapids Crew Juniors, one of the top soccer clubs in the Midwest, will place elite-level U-20 teams in W-20 (women) and the Super-20 League (men), beginning with the 2014 season. The teams will train and play at MVP Fieldhouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    Crew Juniors girls DOC Lewis Robinson will serve as head coach of the W-20 team, while boys DOC Steve Herdsman will lead the Super-20 squad. Robinson served as head coach and Herdsman was his assistant with the Kalamazoo Kingdom W-20 team that captured the championship this past July.

    "The club is very excited at the opportunity to expand into the Super-20 and W-20 leagues this year,” Robinson said. “Forming these two teams at the top of our development process will allow for our players to compete at the highest U20 level throughout the summer. It gives the younger players in our club and community something to look up to and support and also brings a way for our current club alumni playing in college to come back and remain a part of the club.

    “We are excited about the prospect of the two teams in the summer and think both groups will be very talented and exciting teams to watch."

    As the premier U-20 leagues in North America, W-20 and the Super-20 League provide the necessary platform for top 17- to 20-year-olds in the United States and Canada to compete at an elite level, while also serving as a reserve system for professional and senior adult-amateur teams.

    “Having worked with Lewis and his W-20 team during the 2013 season I am delighted to have our 2013 W-20 champions return next season under their own club’s structure and guidance,” W-20 Senior Director Amanda Duffy said. “Lewis has proven he can put together a very competitive team and I look forward to seeing their efforts expanded upon next year as they represent the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors.”

    “The Grand Rapids Crew Juniors have a history of proven success with their youth teams, on and off the field, and I expect them to make a seamless transition into the Super-20 League,” Super-20 League Senior Director Ryan Brooks said. “The club’s relationship with the Columbus Crew of MLS only strengthens our confidence that the Crew Juniors will be one of the top teams in the Super-20 League.”

    The Grand Rapids Crew Juniors soccer club (formerly GRASA and Grand Valley Premier) was formed more than 20 years ago when the founders identified the need to offer children a venue to learn sportsmanship, teamwork and gain a sense of achievement. The club has evolved into a major non-profit (501c3) community sports organization of more than 1,200 children and their families. In 2007 the club became the first official affiliate of the Columbus Crew’s player development system, one of the most innovative and comprehensive player development systems in the country.

    Any players interested in trying out for the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors W-20 and Super-20 teams should contact Lewis Robinson at For more information, please visit

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    W-League Feature

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    The announcement this week that the W-League’s Pali Blues and LA Strikers had chosen to join forces likely sent shockwaves through the Western Conference, and the entire league. Not only does the new partnership mean a merger of talent from the conference’s top two teams in 2013, it lays down a formidable off-field gauntlet as well with the pairing of Pali’s Charlie Naimo and LA’s Tracey Kevins.

    Naimo, one of the top coaches and recruiters of talent in North America, will manage the new LA Blues Soccer Club, while Kevins, who coached England’s Women’s National team before joining LA in 2013, will serve as technical director; coaching the always bountiful talent Naimo will undoubtedly help supply.

    “Working with Tracey will form quite a battery, in my opinion,” Naimo said. “We both have solid resources and share a common vision. It is all about the players, and it is up to us to manage them to another championship shot.”

    The list of names Naimo has managed to lure to Pali the past six seasons is impressive. Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Kelley O’Hara are among the U.S. stars who have helped the Blues capture three W-League titles in six seasons. En route to their latest title this past summer, Naimo’s Blues only lost twice – both times at the hands of Kevins and the cross-town Strikers.

    LA has been able to secure impressive talent of its own since joining the league in 2010, including England internationals Kristy Moore and Rachel Daly and Stanford star Lo’eau LaBonta. Combining the sales and marketing eye of co-owner Steve Miller with Kevins’ talents behind the bench had the Strikers poised for long-term success after reaching the playoffs for the first time this past season, and both sides expect the new partnership will clarify and strengthen women’s soccer in southern California.

    “Combining the resources of two successful clubs will always create one stronger club,” Naimo said. “In this situation we are combining tests of success on the field with a partner that has as much passion for growing the business. This should result in a professional product for fans to enjoy and support.

    “That said, it is just a concept to be excited about. We all have to work even harder to accomplish the goals we have set for our supporters.”

    Not surprisingly, Kevins and Naimo are already fast at work, identifying players for 2014 and plotting to bring another title to southern California.

    “On the field is where I am most excited,” Naimo said. “We are very far along in the recruiting process for 2014, but it is all on paper. It is a brand new team that has yet to play a game.

    “We’ve won nothing and will have much to prove.”

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    OKC Energy FC News Release --

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Prodigal LLC today announced the name of their USL PRO franchise will be OKC Energy FC.

    “The name Energy has multiple meanings and applications in Oklahoma City,” said Prodigal CEO Bob Funk Jr. “There is an obvious tie to the oil, natural gas and renewable resource sector in our city, but it also speaks to the renaissance underway in Oklahoma City.

    “Our city has a strong energy, our citizens have a positive energy, our sport has a passionate energy and our team will have a winning energy. Energy is the natural choice for the Oklahoma City USL PRO franchise and for our future, this name will transfer into the higher league goal…Major League Soccer.”

    Foundation for the team colors include the official state color of green, paired with blue to represent the horizon line of the plains and the bright future envisioned as a team and a community. The club’s mark is inspired by the flag of the great state of Oklahoma. Within the logo is an exploding star, symbolizing the spark that initiates energy. The star also forms an abstract soccer ball with upward moving lines to create a sense of upward movement. The home and away kits include the green and blue from the logo as well as the vertical lines, meaning the state flag will always be represented when OKC Energy FC is on the pitch.

    Prodigal LLC also announced the OKC Energy FC will play their home regular season and playoff games at Pribil Stadium on the campus of Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in the central part of Oklahoma City near the business district at I-44 and Western. Beginning immediately, the field will undergo a complete renovation to meet the standards for USL PRO games. The natural grass field will be positive for all activities at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School.

    “We are thrilled with the opportunity to play at Pribil Stadium on the campus of Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School, said Prodigal owner Bob Funk Jr. “Its located in the heart of the city, has a variety of pre and post-game dining options in the Western Avenue corridor and provides sports fans with an opportunity to see professional soccer in an intimate environment.

    “Thank you to the staff, alumni and boosters from McGuinness High School for providing our team with the opportunity to play soccer in their stadium. The tradition of athletic success is strong at McGuinness and we look forward to adding to that tradition.”

    “Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School is excited about the partnership with Prodigal to bring professional soccer to Oklahoma City,” said Bishop McGuinness Athletic Director Gary Savely. “Our city has a dynamic history of hosting and supporting many athletic teams and events at all levels. We believe this relationship will help the city expand its sports reputation but also benefit the student/athletes at Bishop McGuinness with improvements to our stadium and field. The years of athletic management experience showed through in the professionalism and thoroughness of the Prodigal staff.”

    Soccer fans also have the opportunity to place a deposit for ticket packages by calling the OKC Energy FC office at 405-235-KICK (5425).

    USL PRO is the strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league outside of Major League Soccer (MLS). Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO features 14 teams for the 2014 season, including expansion teams in Oklahoma City and Sacramento.

    In 2013 USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that will enhance the development of professional players in North America, strengthen the competition in both leagues, and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams will compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions. USL PRO is the longest-standing pro league affiliate member of US Soccer.

    The league not only serves as a springboard to the MLS for players, but also for franchises. Four of the last five clubs to enter MLS have moved up from the USL’s top professional division. Among the most successful clubs, the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Montreal Impact all operated franchises in the USL’s top professional division before making the transition to MLS.
    Soccer fans also have the opportunity to place a deposit for ticket packages by calling the OKC Energy FC office at 405-235-KICK (5425).

    Prodigal LLC is a full service event management company based in Oklahoma City. Prodigal operates the Oklahoma City Barons professional hockey team, co-promotes Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, operates the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR), serves as the co-organizer for the March of Dimes Sports Headliner Banquet and produces the Bricktown 4th Fest and is sales and marketing partner with All College and World Cup of Softball.

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    FC Tucson News Release --

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    TUCSON, Ariz. -- The substitutions near the end of the match seemed more like a gesture of good will than a strategic decision.

    “Well, we were arguing about it on the bench, whether we were going to sub or not because the guys were playing so well,” said FC Tucson head coach Rick Schantz. “They were saying to me, ‘No, no, leave them all in there.’ And I said, ‘Guys, it’s an exhibition and people are here to see some of these local kids play’.”

    And it was a local kid, Rincon High Schooler Sadam Ali, who scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute of FC Tucson’s 1-0 win over Chivas USA in front of a standing-room only crowd of 2,414 in the inaugural match at North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex.

    “It was really exciting,” Ali said to a horde or reporters following the match. “I’m in high school still and I’m playing (against) a pro team and that’s just too exciting.”

    A rough start to the first half of tonight’s match left FC Tucson with very few opportunities to finish.

    An offside goal was scored in the 16th minute by Saeed Robinson off a deflection after a free kick outside the box. Then in the 22nd minute Dakota Collins was able to slip through a gap in the Chivas USA defense and get a shot off going just shy of the far post.

    The quick offensive transition from Chivas USA put high pressure on FC Tucson later in the half, calling for risky tackles in the box from Travis Campbell and Reid Schmitt. With a strong midfield and defensive line, Chivas USA was able to hold FC Tucson to four shots in the half.

    Coming out in the second half, Chivas USA increased their offensive pressure. Chivas capitalized on their opportunities coming from balls picked off in the midfield, taking five shots in the first 20 minutes of the half.

    In the 67th minute, FC Tucson goalkeeper Larry Jackson made a huge save, sprawling across the ground to smother Eric Avila’s hard charge toward the net.

    Then in the 84th minute, Jackson made his last save of the night, a huge one against a point-blank shot from Matt Fondy just outside of the six-yard box. It was the last good scoring chance for Chivas before the FC Tucson game-winning goal.

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    FC Tucson News Release --

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    NEW YORK — Today FC Tucson and Major League Soccer revealed the six-team field for the 2014 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup. The Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake will join FC Tucson of the PDL in the third edition of the MLS Preseason tournament that will run from February 19 until March 1.

    This year’s tournament will consist of four days of tripleheaders with the final day culminating with the championship game. The first three match days will be played at the brand new North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex. The finals, on March 1, will take place at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.

    "We are thrilled to be in a multi-year partnership with Major League Soccer as the official Western Hub of MLS Preseason," said the FC Tucson ownership group in a joint statement. "We look forward to providing all 11 teams and their visiting fans a first class soccer experience to launch the 2014 MLS campaign.”

    Five additional MLS teams – Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City and Seattle Sounders FC – will participate in preseason friendlies in Tucson in early February. Vancouver Whitecaps FC will visit Tucson for a behind-closed-doors preseason friendly against the Dynamo.

    A full schedule, including ticket information, for all of the MLS Preseason games in Tucson can be found at

    Pre-Cup Schedule (all matches at North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex)
    (All times local MT)

    Saturday, February 1, 2014
    Portland Timbers vs. Sporting Kansas City, 6:00 p.m.

    Saturday, February 8, 2014
    Houston Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 3:00 p.m.
    Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers, 6:00 p.m.

    2014 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup
    (All times local MT)

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014 (North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex)
    Chivas USA vs. FC Tucson, 1:00 p.m.
    Colorado Rapids vs. Chicago Fire, 3:30 p.m.
    Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution, 6:00 p.m.

    Saturday, February 22, 2014 (North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex)
    FC Tucson vs. Colorado Rapids, 1:00 p.m.
    Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake, 3:30 p.m.
    New England Revolution vs. Chivas USA, 6:00 p.m.

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014 (North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex)
    Chivas USA vs. Chicago Fire, 1:00 p.m.
    New England Revolution vs. Colorado Rapids, 3:30 p.m.
    Real Salt Lake vs. FC Tucson, 6:00 p.m.

    Saturday, March 1, 2014 (Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium)
    5th Place vs. 6th Place, 2:30 p.m.
    3rd Place vs. 4th Place, 5:00 p.m.
    1st Place vs. 2nd Place, 7:30 p.m.

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    Orlando City News Release --

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    ORLANDO, Fla. — In the first of two major announcements this week regarding the future of Orlando City SC, the Club and Orlando Health announced today an extension of their existing partnership. The announcement ensures that Orlando Health’s will remain the official healthcare partner to Orlando City SC, the club’s proposed new downtown soccer stadium and Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS).

    “There is no partner we’d rather have. Orlando Health has always shared our vision of bringing Major League Soccer to Orlando since day one,” said Orlando City President Phil Rawlins. “Not only are we securing a world-class healthcare partner, but we are solidifying a true partnership between two organizations committed to making Central Florida a better place.”

    “We’re excited about this agreement and what it means for us as an organization and this community, which has rallied fervently around Orlando City SC,” said George Haidukewych, M.D., academic chairman and chief of orthopedic trauma at Orlando Health. “It will showcase the unique abilities of our medical team to provide high-quality care for these professional athletes, and help ensure successful, winning seasons for the Lions.”

    Under the agreement, Orlando Health will be the exclusive provider of medical care to Orlando City SC players, and provide athletic trainers who will perform training services for players, including on-site, in-stadium medical services as required on game days. In addition, the athletic trainers will provide services to participants at Orlando City Youth Soccer during practices, games, and tournaments.

    Having served as the only jersey sponsor during the club’s history in Orlando, the agreement also means Orlando Health is on the verge of becoming the first jersey partner in MLS history to commit to an expansion club before admittance into Major League Soccer.

    Importantly, the partnership affiliates two organizations based in Orlando with strong ties to the local community. The Lions have volunteered over 550 hours throughout the Central Florida community over the past year, with multiple appearances occurring at Orlando Health affiliated hospitals such as Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. The Orlando City Foundation, Orlando City’s non-profit arm, has also recently partnered with Healthy Families Orange, an Orlando Health program focused on parenting skills and actions families can implement to prevent child abuse.

    The second of two major announcements involving the future of Orlando City will occur tomorrow and is open to the public. The fan event involving the announcement about the Club’s pursuit to become a Major League Soccer club will take place in downtown Orlando at the Cheyenne Saloon (128 W Church Street, Orlando, FL, 32801). Festivities on Church Street begin at 5 p.m. while the program is set for 6 p.m.

    For more information, visit

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  • 11/18/13--13:03: W-League Coaching Spotlight
  • W-League Feature


    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Vicki Linton joined the Bay Area Breeze in April of 2013 and was given the task of shepherding the club through its inaugural W-League season. A former Australian U17 Women’s National Team coach, the native of Sydney, Australia also spent two seasons as head coach with the Melbourne Victory of the Australian W-League, posting some of the best records in club history and remaining undefeated at home in the 2012 season.

    Linton enjoyed a successful career as a professional player before becoming head coach of the New South Wales U17 State Team in 2000, where she won two National Championships. Linton spent one season in the United States as the assistant coach of the W-League’s Boston Renegades.

    How did your involvement with the W-League begin?

    VL: I was appointed as Head Coach/Technical Director of the Bay Area Breeze in April 2013. Moving into the W-League, they were looking to appoint a full-time coach. My other involvement in the W-League was as Assistant Coach with the Boston Renegades in 2003. I was working with Mass Premier Soccer and coached a number of their junior and youth teams, as well as my role as the assistant coach with the W-League team.

    How beneficial can playing in the W-League be for elite college players, and those who want to play professionally?

    VL: I think it can be very beneficial. There are many players coming out of college with the ambition to play at the highest level. With there only being eight teams in the NWSL, the W-League provides an opportunity for many players to continue to play at a competitive level. The W-League provides a high standard of training and competition with a mix of quality college players with more experienced club players.

    Why is the W-League important in the North American women’s soccer landscape?

    VL: The W-League provides an excellent opportunity for new clubs to break into the business of women’s soccer with stringent, yet achievable standards for entry. It affords clubs the chance to operate as amateur or professional under the W-League umbrella in an effort to nurture each club’s unique mission.

    Overall, how do you feel the level of competition is?

    VL: The Western Conference in which we play in is very competitive with a number of high-quality teams including the Pali Blues and Seattle Sounders. I would say that it is a good standard at present with the potential to be the true second tier underpinning the NWSL.

    What level of player are you looking for while building your roster?

    VL: As a professional team operating in the W-League, I am looking for players with real ambition to get to the highest level. With our ‘pro’ status, all players must be finished with their NCAA eligibility so we look at graduating seniors plus players who have been playing at a high level of club soccer in the U.S. or overseas as well as foreign players with National Team experience (youth or senior level).

    Which team do you consider to be your toughest opponent?

    VL: With only one season’s experience in the W-League, I would say the Pali Blues (2013 W-League Champions) were our toughest opponent – although we were seconds away from beating them at the end of last season! With the Pali Blues and the LA Strikers joining forces next season as the LA Blues, I imagine that LA will continue to be our toughest opponent.

    What’s your top W-League memory?

    VL: Beating the LA Strikers away from home last season. We came off a disappointing loss to Santa Clarita and then had to back up against a very organized and high intensity LA Strikers. Our players turned their form around and put in a great team performance, topped off with some great goalkeeping by Yiana Dimmitt to get the 1-0 win. It was an action-packed game with the game-winning goal coming from a Leah Morales penalty kick.

    If you could pick any player to build your 2014 roster around, who would it be?

    VL: I don’t know that it will be any one player but there are a number of players from our squad last year that we will look to retain as a core of the team to build upon for 2014.

    What encouraged you to pursue coaching as a career?

    VL: I had the idea of coaching planted into me as a 16-year-old by one of my coaches. In my early 20s, while I was still playing, I started attending coaching courses and was involved in State Junior and Youth Elite Training Programs in New South Wales (Australia). At 25 I was unable to continue playing due to injury and it was a natural progression to continue coaching and pursue that at a higher level.

    What differences do you see with soccer in general and player commitment/focus/goals today compared to when you started coaching?

    VL: With the number of opportunities to play at the international level (Women’s World Cup, U20 and U17 Women’s World Cups and Olympics) as well as the greater number of professional and high-level club competitions around the world, there are a greater number of programs that young players can be involved with, and at a younger age. This has encouraged a greater level of commitment and focus as players can see a clear pathway and have visible role models to inspire them.

    Who has been your biggest coaching mentor?

    VL: I have been lucky to work with and observe some great coaches over the years. There have been a number of coaches who have had a big influence on me including Tom Sermanni in his time as Head Coach of the Australian Women’s National Team. In my role as the U17 WNT coach, Tom was always a great support; not only was he open with regards to what he was doing with the National Team and willing to answer questions, he was always there at the U17 WNT games and tournaments and was a great sounding board. Working In the Australian National Training Centre Program and National Team system under his direction has had a great influence on me – for better or worse!

    What aspects of coaching do you look at that define whether or not you’re successful?

    VL: Do the players understand what you have asked them to do and have they shown that in the game?
    Do the players show improvement from game to game and over the season?
    Have the players as individuals and has the team performed to the best of its ability?
    Have the players progressed in their career path after being in your program?

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    Orlando City News Release --

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    ORLANDO, Fla. – One of the fastest-growing, top 20 metropolitan areas in the United States will soon be the home of Major League Soccer’s 21st club, as MLS Commissioner Don Garber and expansion team owners Flávio Augusto da Silva and Phil Rawlins announced tonight that Orlando will join the league in 2015. Orlando's new MLS team, Orlando City Soccer Club, will join as an expansion team for the league’s 20th season.

    With the addition of Orlando, MLS has added 11 clubs since the beginning of the 2005 season, leading to a remarkable and rapid transformation of professional soccer in North America. Three more expansion teams will be added by 2020.

    “We are proud and excited to welcome Orlando to Major League Soccer,” Commissioner Garber said. “From the success of the Orlando City Soccer Club, to the incredible fan support and passion in the community, this is a new market that really excites us. We have great confidence in Flávio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and the rest of the Orlando City ownership group. They love this sport, our League and this city. And thanks to the commitment of ownership, the City of Orlando and Orange County, Orlando City will soon have a spectacular new stadium that will provide fans and the entire community with a truly unique downtown sporting experience.”

    One of the world’s top tourism destinations with more than 57 million visitors annually, metropolitan Orlando is the 19th largest market in the United States and features a diverse, young and vibrant community. The Orlando area’s Hispanic population has more than doubled since 2000, making it the nation’s fourth fastest-growing Latino market.

    Orlando City’s inaugural season will see the club open its own soccer stadium in downtown Orlando. The brand new stadium will be located on Church Street, in a vibrant section of Orlando's entertainment district. The new stadium will be accessible by both car and public transportation, with its construction scheduled to begin in spring of 2014. Prior to moving into the new stadium in the summer of 2015, Orlando City will play matches at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.

    During the past year, Orlando has hosted several major soccer events, including the USL PRO championship match in September, which drew a USL-record crowd of 20,886 fans to the Citrus Bowl. More recently, the U.S. and Brazil match on November 10 at the Citrus Bowl drew the largest home crowd in nearly 10 years for the U.S. Women’s National Team. In addition, Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where Orlando City will play the 2014 USL PRO season, has served as host to MLS preseason training and many elite international clubs.

    Da Silva, a native of Brazil, leads Orlando City's ownership group, which includes club Founder and President Phil Rawlins, Chairman John Bonner and 10 local partners. Da Silva previously owned Wise Up, a group of more than 400 language schools operating in five countries, and currently owns Geração de Valor (Valuable Generation), a company dedicated to developing young entrepreneurs. He is the former chairman of Ometz Group, an organization consisting of 16 holding companies, including Wise Up.

    "Orlando is a special city with amazing fans that have embraced the beautiful game and we have no doubt that Orlando City will become the next success story in MLS,” said Da Silva. “We would like to thank MLS leadership for working with us and helping us bring Major League Soccer to Central Florida. Our goal is to continue the championship-winning ways this organization has established and to further the special relationship that this club has with its fans and the city of Orlando.”

    Originally from the United Kingdom and a part-owner of English Premier League club Stoke City, Rawlins founded and developed a highly successful information technology sales and marketing consulting company. He founded the Austin Aztex, a USL PRO team, in 2007, before moving the team to Orlando in late 2010.

    "It is a dream come true to bring Major League Soccer to Orlando," said Rawlins. “The fans in Orlando have clearly demonstrated that they are ready for MLS, and we look forward to celebrating with them and working together to set a new standard in this country. We have watched the evolution of Major League Soccer, and we are thrilled to join what has become one of the fastest growing and most exciting leagues in the world.”

    Individuals who purchase 2014 Orlando City season tickets will have top priority for the club’s 2015 MLS season seat selection. Call (855) ORL-CITY or visit for details.

    Details regarding conference alignment and schedule format for future MLS seasons will be unveiled at a later date.

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    Wilmington Hammerheads News Release --

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Wilmington Hammerheads are pleased to announce that veteran player Paul Nicholson will be returning to the squad for the 2014 USL PRO regular season. The midfielder has agreed to a two-year deal with the club that will extend his career with the Hammerheads through the 2015 USL PRO regular season.

    In 2013, Nicholson appeared in 21 regular season matches, scoring three goals and tallying one assist. Nicholson first signed with the Hammerheads in 2011 and has remained with the club for the previous three USL PRO seasons.

    “I am pleased that we had the opportunity to re-sign Paul Nicholson,” said Wilmington Hammerheads Head Coach David Irving. “Paul has been with the Hammerheads for three years now and has probably been one of our most consistent performers on the field, in addition to being well-liked in the community.”

    During the offseason, Nicholson is the assistant soccer coach at Cape Fear Academy. He is also involved in the youth programs with Cape Fear Soccer Club.

    A native of Whitehaven, England, Nicholson played for the University of Rio Grande in Ohio from 2005 to 2008. Nicholson was named in the All-Tournament team for the 2008 NAIA Tournament and was selected the tournament’s Most Valuable Defensive Player.

    Nicholson was the second player in Rio Grande history and the only NAIA player to be invited to the Major League Soccer (MLS) combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. in 2009. The Englishman played in the Premier Development League (PDL) in 2009 for the West Virginia Chaos and for MPS Portland Phoenix in 2010 where he played every minute of every game and was named the ‘Players, Player of the Year’.

    For further information regarding the Wilmington Hammerheads, please contact (910)777-2111 or visit

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    Super Y-League News Release

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The Super Y-League (SYL) is pleased to announce that its 2014 Boys and Girls Olympic Development Program (ODP) National Camps, presented by Nike, will be held in conjunction with IMG Academy’s 2014 IMG Cup College Showcases on the IMG campus in Bradenton, Florida. SYL ODP participants will have the opportunity to compete in the IMG Cup under the watchful eyes of college and youth national team scouts from throughout the country.

    The 2014 SYL Boys ODP National Camp kicks off Thursday, February 27 and concludes Sunday, March 2, 2014, with the IMG Cup – Boys College Showcase running Friday-Sunday the same weekend. The SYL Girls ODP National Camp also runs concurrently with the IMG Cup – Girls College Showcase, March 6-9, 2014.

    Past IMG Cup showcase events have attracted scouts from national college soccer powers such as Duke, Indiana, Wake Forest, Boston College, Akron, South Carolina, Georgetown, Maryland, Connecticut, Virginia Tech and Penn State, to name a few.

    “This is a huge step for the Super Y-League ODP program and will add significantly to the exposure received by the 2014 camp participants,” said Natalie Akula, USL Senior Director, Youth Leagues & ODP. “Not only will the players receive top-level instruction from the ODP staff, they will have the chance to compete against some of the top teams in the country in front of college scouts from throughout the U.S.”

    The ODP Program, which brings together top players from throughout the United States and Canada, is a crucial component of the Super Y-League, offering the best players from the U13 to U16 age groups a chance to receive top-quality coaching and the opportunity to be scouted by U.S. National Team and college coaches. This year’s ODP age groups will feature the top players from the U13/U14 and U15/U16 age divisions, and they will receive instruction from top college coaches as well as skills testing, mental conditioning and nutritional counseling from IMG Academy’s staff of experts.

    IMG Academy is home to the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program and site of the annual Super Y-League North American Finals. USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor, who has spent the past 20 years as a member of the U.S. National Staff and 27 years as an ODP coach, will direct the camps.

    The world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and education complex, IMG Academy hosts a myriad of amateur and professional soccer events and camps each year. Recently, the campus has welcomed clubs such as the Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire, D.C. United, Columbus Crew, and 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.

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    NCAA Tournament Round-Up

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – Portland Timbers U-23s forward Reinaldo Brenes played a starring role as Akron defeated defending champion Indiana 3-2 in the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament on Thursday night. Brenes had a pair of goals, while Sounders FC U-23 midfielder Aodhan Quinn had the third, as the Zips advanced into the second round this weekend.

    Akron appeared to have taken control against the Hoosiers as Brenes opened the scoring in the seventh minute, with Quinn following with a second midway through the half. Brenes added a third three minutes into the second half, but the Zips then had to withstand a strong comeback by the Hoosiers, who scored two goals in two minutes through the Des Moines Menace’s Dylan Lax and Chicago Fire U-23’s Jacob Bushue. Akron was able to hold on, however, and will face Marquette on Sunday.

    PDL players highlighted much of the action on Thursday night, with the Chicago Fire U-23’s Chris Prince scoring the only goal as Wisconsin defeated Milwaukee 1-0. Prince’s goal came in the 13th minute, and set up a meeting with his PDL teammate Harrison Shipp and No. 3-seed Notre Dame.

    Seattle sprang a surprise thanks to Sounders FC U-23 forward Miguel Gonzalez, who had both goals in the Redhawks 2-1 victory on the road against Creighton. Gonzalez scored the game-winner in the 72nd minute as his side rallied back from an early deficit to a Bluejays side that had advanced to the College Cup each of the past two seasons.

    Louisville advanced into the second round as the Cardinals took victory in a penalty shootout against Denver after the two teams played to a 0-0 draw after regulation and extra time. Reading United’s Jimmy Ockford scored the deciding penalty kick in the fifth round as the Cardinals took a 3-2 win, while the Ventura County Fusion’s Nolan Moore and Portland Timbers U-23s’ Zack Foxhoven also scored from the spot.

    Elon also advanced in a penalty shootout against Clemson, with GPS Portland Phoenix midfielder Caue da Silva and the Carolina Dynamo’s James Brace among those to convert from the spot for the Phoenix, while Ocean City Nor’easters goalkeeper Keasel Broome came up big for Providence as he made a pair of saves to send the Friars through in a shootout against Pennsylvania.

    Austin Aztex goalkeeper Devin Cook helped Coastal Carolina advance into the second round as he recorded a four-save shutout in a 2-0 victory against East Tennessee State. The Chanticleers also got a goal from K-W United’s Sergio Camargo as they moved on to face Charlotte in the second round.

    The Ocean City Nor’easters duo of goalkeeper Brian Billings and midfielder Scott Davis both helped Bradley advance to the second round with a 3-2 overtime win against Northwestern. Davis opened the scoring for the Brave, while Billings had four saves to knock off the Wildcats and set up a second-round contest with California.

    Former Baltimore Bohemians defender Eli Dennis had the only goal as Penn State took a 1-0 victory against St. Francis (Brooklyn), while current Bohemian Julio Arjona was one of the George Mason players to score from the penalty spot as the Patriots defeated William & Mary in a shootout after a 2-2 draw.

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