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News from USL

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    W-League Feature

    Thursday, December 26, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The U.S. Women’s U20 squad that will compete at CONCACAF qualifying for a place at the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup this summer has been announced, with W-League standouts Lindsay Horan and Savannah Jordan leading Michelle French’s squad as it heads to the Cayman Islands to try and earn a place in Canada next summer.

    Both Horan and Jordan are former All-League selections, with Horan the lone professional player in the squad. The Paris St. Germain forward, who starred for the Colorado Rush in both the youth ranks and W-League, has continued to shine since turning professional, earning selection to the full U.S. Women’s National Team earlier this year.

    The Atlanta Silverbacks’ Jordan, meanwhile, is coming off a standout freshman season at the University of Florida that saw her earn TopDrawerSoccer.com Rookie of the Year and SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Jordan had 22 goals for the Gators this fall, following up a summer that saw her score eight goals in 10 regular-season games for the Silverbacks.

    Overall, six members of the squad, and one former W-20 player, are included in French’s squad. Jordan’s Atlanta teammate, Jane Campbell, was one of two goalkeeper selected after featuring for the Silverbacks last summer before posting a 0.72 goals-against average in 18 starts for Stanford this fall.

    A pair of Washington Spirit Reserves teammates were also selected, with defender Brittany Basinger (Penn State) and midfielder Andi Sullivan, the only high school player in the squad, both being selected. Basinger’s teammate at Penn State Mallory Weber was also named in the midfield contingent, with the Colorado Force’s midfielder being named after helping her side reach the final of the W-20 Championship this past summer.

    The Pali Blues’ Makenzy Doniak rounded out the selections to the squad after starring for the University of Virginia this fall. The United States opens the tournament on Thursday, January 9 against Costa Rica, with games against Jamaica and Guatemala to follow. Three teams from CONCACAF will reach the World Cup, set to be held in Canada in August.


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    Reading United News Release -- www.readingunitedac.com

    Monday, December 30, 2013

    READING, Pa. – Former US Youth International and current Penn State Abington Head Coach, David Castellanos has been named as Head Coach for Reading United A.C. for the 2014 PDL Season. The USSF and NSCAA licensed coach will assume the Reading United Head Coach position starting January 1 and will be present at the December 30 Reading United tryouts.

    Born in Fairfax, Va., Castellanos grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1998, he graduated from Christopher Dock Mennonite High School. As a youth player, he was on the U.S. U17 & U20 National Team where he featured with players such as former Union defender Dan Califf.  In 1998, Castellanos began his collegiate career at Mercer County Community College.  In 2000, he transferred to the University of Connecticut. That season, the Huskies won the 2000 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship with Castellanos providing an assist in the title win over Creighton University. Castellanos graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

    In 2002, the bi-lingual Castellanos turned professional with C.D. Motagua in the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional de Honduras. On March 30, 2004, the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, signed Castellanos.  He also featured with the Minnesota Thunder and Virginia Beach Mariners of USL. On November 9, 2005, Castellanos moved indoors with the Philadelphia KiXX of the Major Indoor Soccer League. Castellanos played for the KiXX until the team ceased operations in 2010. During that time, the KiXX won the 2007 MISL championship. 

    Currently Castellanos is the head coach of Penn State Abington and is Head coach of the U12, U13, and U15 Contintental FC Delco Academy (one of the Philadelphia Union Youth Academy Partner Clubs). At PSU Abington, Castellanos holds a 34-26-3 overall record since 2008. He has led the team to two NEAC championship tournament appearances as well as an ECAC appearance.

    "David brings tremendous energy and understanding of the Philadelphia Union Development structure, and the goals of Reading United," said Reading President Art Auchenbach. "His youth international, collegiate, and professional playing experience combined with his well-established youth and collegiate coaching pedigree form a perfect balance for his transition to the PDL coaching ranks. We are confident that David’s skill set will be beneficial to our players, team, and program.”

    Former Reading United Head Coach, Brendan Burke, will see his Philadelphia Union coaching duties expanded this season as the Union look to build on their 2013 season, which featured three Reading alumni (Ray Gaddis, Aaron Wheeler, and Leo Fernandes) on the Union Roster. Burke is expected to remain a vital link in the Union development pyramid, which started in 2010 and quickly saw not only player transitions to the Union, but also coaches like Burke, and former Reading United Super 20 Head Coach Jim Curtin (now also an assistant with the Union).

    "I am extremely excited to be part of a club with such great tradition as Reading. I look forward to this great opportunity and to a successful season with continued wins," said Castellanos.

    Additional Reading United coaching staff placements will be announced in early January 2014. Trialists interested in witnessing David’s coaching style and expectations can participate as David will lead a contingent of coaches affiliated with Reading United, YSC Sports, and the Philadelphia Union during the December 30 Reading United PDL & Super 20 tryouts. All players interested in trying out for the 2014 PDL or Super 20 team are encouraged to pre-register at: www.readingunitedac.com/reading-united-announce-winter-tryouts.html

    Reading United enter the 2014 season looking to build upon their recent successes including a potential 6th straight US Open Cup appearance (a U.S. soccer record), an opportunity for a 7th straight PDL playoff berth, and continued player recognition within our Conference and All League teams. The 2013 Reading United team featured two players (Jason Plumhoff and Damion Lowe) named to the All PDL Team. Additionally, five Reading United alumni were part of the fifty college seniors invited to the 2014 MLS Combine (Kadeem Dacres, Steve Neumann, Jimmy Ockford, Pedro Ribeiro, and Ben Sweat).  Lastly, 2013 featured the Reading organization capturing a coveted USL PDL Communication Award at the December 12-15 USL Annual General Meeting.


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    USL Feature

    Friday, January 3, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – 2012 PDL All-League selection DeAndre Yedlin of the Seattle Sounders earned his first call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team on Friday, leading a large contingent of USL alumni named by Jurgen Klinsmann for this January’s training camp, which opens on Monday in California.

    Yedlin, who starred for the Sounders FC U23 before being signed as a Home Grown Player by the MLS side ahead of the 2013 season, helped the Sounders U23 claim the PDL Western Conference Championship as he appeared in all 19 games on the way to the national semifinals. This past season, Yedlin was a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year as he made 37 appearances in all competitions.

    Other uncapped former PDL alumni selected include Chance Myers, formerly of the Ventura County Fusion, Seth Sinovic, formerly of the Chicago Fire U-23, and Michael Harrington, who played for the Raleigh Elite. Houston’s Tally Hall, a former member of the Boulder Rapids U-23, returns to the squad with the chance to earn his first cap after being called in earlier this summer for the Gold Cup.

    Overall, 13 members of the squad are USL alumni, with current mainstays such as Graham Zusi, formerly of the Central Florida Kraze, and Brad Evans, who played for the Orange County Blue Star, being joined by players such as Luis Gil and Bill Hamid, both of whom shone in the Super Y-League before quickly moving up the youth ranks.

    A number of veterans also returned to the squad, with former PDL alums Dax McCarty of the New York Red Bulls and Clarence Goodson, formerly of the Boulder Rapids U-23, both earning selection. Eric Alexander of the New York Red Bulls and Sean Johnson of the Chicago Fire also return to the squad, which is set to face South Korea at the conclusion of the camp on February 1 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.


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    OKC Energy FC News Release -- www.energyfc.com

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    OKLAHOMA CITY – OKC Energy FC has announced the hiring of Jason Hawkins as the team’s general manager and Chris Spendlove as an assistant coach.

    Hawkins was vice-president, special projects & Lean manager for First Fidelity Bank the past 12 years. While with First Fidelity Bank, he has also been an active member of Oklahoma soccer community since 1993.  He has served as the assistant director of coaching for the Oklahoma Soccer Association since 2010 as well as serving an instructor for US Soccer coaching education courses. He was a staff coach for the Oklahoma Football Club from 2008-10 and co-founded and served on the staff for the NOKC United since its inception in 2001, while also working as the club’s academy director in 2008-09. Prior to that time he was on staff with the Royals Football Club.

    Hawkins graduated from Leadership Oklahoma City’s Signature program, Class XXXI. He is actively involved in the community, serving on the Moore Public Schools Foundation Board, the OCU Meinders School of Business Advisory Board, United Way Allocations Committee, treasurer of the First Fidelity Bank Family Foundation and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the Oklahoma Red Cross and Toys for Tots.

    Hawkins received his Bachelors of Science in business from Oklahoma City University in 2006. He is also a TopSoccer program director for the Oklahoma Soccer Association and earned the association’s girls coach of the year award in 2005. Hawkins holds his National ‘A’ license from the United States Soccer Federation and completed the organization’s youth license instructor program in 2010. In 2011 Hawkins was named in the top 12 nominees worldwide for the Quality Progress New Voices of Quality award. 

    Spendlove spent the last three seasons as a volunteer assistant coach at Oklahoma State University. The Cowgirls won the 2011 Big 12 regular season title, were tournament runners-up in 2011 and 2013 and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2011.

    Spendlove was the team captain for Oklahoma City FC (PDL) during the 2013 season. During his playing career, he played for the USL PRO’s Wilmington Hammerheads, the GPS Portland Phoenix and Austin Aztex of the PDL and in the United Kingdom for the Preston North End Football Club and Everton Football Club.

    His previous coaching experience includes the Oklahoma Olympic Development Program, Bishop McGuinness, Yukon and Casady High Schools.

    Spendlove was a four-year letterwinner for the OCU Stars. He was a two-time NAIA All-American and earned all-region honors from the NSCAA as a senior. He was named the Sooner Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and 2008 and earned his third first team All-SAC honor as a senior. Spendlove was named to the SAC all-tournament first team in 2010 and 2009. In four seasons with the Stars, he recorded 26 goals and nine assists and helped the team reach the semifinals of the 2008 NAIA national championship.

    Spendlove graduated from Oklahoma City University in December 2011 with a Bachelors of Science degree in kinesiology and exercise science. He also received his master’s from OCU in health and human performance. Spendlove has a national diploma in sports science from the United Kingdom’s St. Helen’s College Football Academy.

    The Liverpool, England native, prepped at St. Edmund of Canterbury. He holds his ‘A’ license from the United States Soccer Federation and is licensed by the English Football Association.


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    Orlando City News Release -- www.orlandocitysoccer.com

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando City Foundation (OCF) announced Monday the backing of three local non-profits for the 2014 season, further entrenching the club into the Central Florida community. The non-profits include the Parramore Kidz Zone, Howard Phillips Center-Healthy Families Orange and Fifth Third Bank’s Summer of Dreams.

    OCF is committed to supporting charities that improve the lives of children in our Central Florida community, with the non-profits chosen by the Foundation exemplifying just that. OCF will provide support from multiple aspects, including general assistance to monetary donations.

    The mission of Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) is to equip Parramore’s children to become successful, healthy, well-educated adults. PKZ aims to reduce juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, and high school drop-out rates. PKZ is achieving this by investing in early childhood education, after school programs, youth development for teenagers, access to health care, mentoring and more.

    “Partnership with the Orlando City Foundation benefits PKZ because of the time, talent and treasure that Orlando City invests in the future of Parramore’s children,” said PKZ representative Lisa Early. “Orlando City has made financial contributions to our organization, which has helped cover the cost of tutoring, school supplies and college scholarships for children in the neighborhood.”

    The Parramore region is one that the Foundation and Orlando City SC has invested in, including the recent opening of the new freezers at the local Sunlife Grocery Store. Thanks to a strong community effort, the refrigerator and freezer makes fresh fruit and frozen produce available for residents, something that was unobtainable beforehand.

    The Summer of Dreams program was founded to help those children who would otherwise “fall through the cracks.” The free, 10-week program for homeless students in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties provide resources to bridge the gap during Summer break. The Summer of Dreams has reached a total of 2,281 homeless children since starting in 2011.

    “From the beginning, our partnership has been beneficial for Fifth Third Bank and Orlando City in many ways,” said Fifth Third Bank Senior Vice President of Marketing Kim Praniewicz. “Orlando City strongly supports Fifth Third Bank’s Summer of Dreams, helping to break the cycle of child homelessness in Central Florida. We are excited about our continued partnership and MLS in Orlando.”

    Based on the nation’s foremost model for child abuse prevention, Healthy Families America, Healthy Families Orange is a program that prevents child abuse and neglect, increases the rate of childhood immunizations, reduces family stress levels and more in Orange County. The Healthy Families Orange staff work with parents from the day their baby is born until the child is five years old, facilitating parent-infant bonding, positive parent-child interaction and child health and development.

    “We are so appreciative of Orlando City’s support of the Healthy Families Orange program,” said Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families Operations Manager Marie Martinez. “This evidence-based program has a solid track record of preventing child abuse and helping local families become self-sufficient.  By investing in child abuse prevention, Orlando City is investing in the future our community in a very powerful and impactful way.”  

    Outside of the support for the three non-profits, the Foundation also offers grants ranging from $500 to $1,000 which can be applied for by organizations seeking to further the sport of soccer, bringing programs to under-served areas of Central Florida. The most recent recipient of this grant was the Engelwood Neighborhood Center, with the funds helping start the Center’s first-ever soccer program for children ages 4-6.

    The Orlando City Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that believes in using the sport of soccer and the powerful influence of the Orlando City organization to promote exercise and healthy eating to the children and families in our community.

    For more on these organizations and the OCF, please visit orlandocityfoundation.org.


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    Rochester Rhinos Feature -- www.rhinossoccer.com

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- JC Banks has been using this offseason to improve his game play by joining the Milwaukee Wave in the Major Indoor Soccer League. Banks has helped the Wave reach a mark of 7-1 so far this season, which puts them top of the league standings, as he has nine points in eight games. Dan Gerow caught up with Banks for a Q&A session as he looks ahead to the new USL PRO season. 

    Dan Gerow - How's Milwaukee treating you?
    JC Banks - Milwaukee is great. It’s good to be back home playing in front of family and friends.

    DG - What aspects of your game have improved this off season? 
    JCB - The main thing is that I'm getting healthier and healthier as the season goes on. Indoor is very different and I'm learning a lot but there's lots of touches and defense in indoor is big. So, my defensive side is improving. Also, movement off the ball I think will help outdoor.

    DG - When you had time off in Rochester, what did you enjoy doing? 
    JCB - I'm a “napper” so I took naps every day.  Also, I played zombies and established myself as the best FIFA player on the team.

    DG - Besides playing indoor soccer, what else have you done this off season?
    JCB - Besides spending time with family, coaching mainly. I coached a high school team this fall and helped out with a local club. 

    DG - What are you most looking forward to about returning to Rochester?
    JCB - My first season I learned a ton from Bob so I'm eager to learn more. He's very good at teaching the game and I'm always looking to grow as a player. Lots to learn from him. Things that apply to my game now and for coaching in the future.

    DG - Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? If so, what?
    JCB - Cook more

    DG - What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
    JCB - A championship

    DG - What's your pre-game meal consist of?
    JCB - Chicken and pasta or rice, chicken and broccoli


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    W-League Feature

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – A number of former W-League standouts, led by Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux and Becky Sauerbrunn, were named by U.S. Women’s National Team coach Tom Sermanni for a week-long training camp in Carson, Calif. at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center.

    Overall, 20 members of the 28-players squad are W-League alumni, with other veterans such as Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Sounders Women), Heather O’Reilly and Carli Lloyd (New Jersey Wildcats) being joined by emerging talents Crystal Dunn (Long Island Rough Riders) and Amber Brooks (New Jersey Wildcats).

    Leroux, who starred for both the Vancouver Whitecaps Women and Seattle Sounders Women, had a breakout year for the national team in 2013 as she recorded 10 goals in 15 appearances, second only to former Rochester Ravens forward Wambach, who had 11.

    Two selections from the 2012 W-League All-League team were also named, with former New Jersey Wildcats midfielder Yael Averbuch and Seattle Sounders Women defender Stephanie Cox both called into the squad. Averbuch is set to return to action in the United States this spring after joining the Washington Spirit, while Cox continues to feature in the Pacific Northwest with the Seattle Reign.

    Sauerbrunn and FC Kansas City teammate Erika Tymrak were both named after standout seasons in the NWSL this past summer. Sauerbrunn, who played for D.C. United Women, was named the NWSL Defender of the Year, while former Bradenton Athletics midfielder Tymrak claimed Rookie of the Year honors.

    Four of the five goalkeepers called into camp bring W-League experience, with ex-Seattle Sounders Women goalkeeper Hope Solo being joined by Ashlyn Harris (LA Blues), Jill Loyden (Hudson Valley Quickstrike) and Alyssa Naeher (Western Mass Lady Pioneers) in the squad. Harris is joined by three fellow Blues, with Whitney Engen, Lauren Holiday and Christen Press all selected.

    The training camp, which begins on Wednesday, begins an important year for the USWNT as it looks to build toward the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The first game of the new year arrives on January 31 as the U.S. hosts Canada at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. 


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    Austin Aztex News Release -- www.austinaztex.com

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Aztex announced today that Paul Dalglish will join the coaching staff of Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake, winners of the 2009 MLS Cup and finalists in 2013. Dalglish will serve as an assistant coach under new head coach, Jeff Cassar.

    “We would like to thank Paul for his tremendous work and extend our best wishes to Paul as he continues his journey,” Aztex CEO David Markley said. “Paul is an outstanding coach with a passion for developing our squad to be great players on the field, and better men off of it.”

    Dalglish took the reigns as head coach of the Austin Aztex for their inaugural 2012 season and compiled 26-8-4 record as head coach in two seasons across all competitions. Dalglish was named 2013 PDL Coach of the Year when he helped the Aztex finish the season with one of the top records in the league and a goal differential of +30 during their championship run.

    Markley added, “We have several strong candidates for the next head coach and are working to name the next coach within the next week. It is important for us to select a coach that is the perfect fit to continue growing the game locally, and who will continue the standard that has been established on and off the field by the organization.”

    The Aztex return to the field in 2014 to begin their title defense in May. The league schedule will be released later this week. The Aztex will conduct their final tryouts with the Collegiate Trial on Saturday, March 15 and the Open/Community Trial on Sunday, March 16.


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    USL PRO News Release

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The first set of participants for the 2014 USL PRO Combine, presented by Nike, were announced on Tuesday, with a number of top PDL players leading those selected to train and compete at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. from January 23-26. One-hundred players have currently been accepted to the Combine, with a final list set to be announced in two weeks.

    More than 450 applications were received for the 102 available places at the combine, exceeding the number received in previous years as players looked for the opportunity to follow such players as USL PRO All-League selections Gibson Bardsley, Dennis Chin and Mike Azira, and current MLS players Lawrence Olum, Mark Bloom and Tom Heinemann.

    “We were delighted with the number of applications, and the quality of players that applied to be part of this year’s Combine,” USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor said. “It was a very difficult task to identify the players we would bring to IMG Academy, and we wish the best to those who just missed the cut this year.”

    Leading the group is a pair of players selected to the PDL All-Conference teams this past season, with Ocean City Nor’easters forward Dwayne Reid and Austin Aztex defender Max Gunderson both looking to take their game to the pro ranks. Gunderson was a two-time All-Conference pick, also earning selection with the Laredo Heat in 2012. Last summer he was a key figure defensively as the Aztex claimed the PDL Championship, appearing in 13 regular season contests and every game in the playoffs.

    Reid finished tied for fourth in the league with 12 goals after starting the season with the Westchester Flames, and helped the Nor’easters win the Eastern Conference Championship. He is joined by a number of Nor’easters teammates at the Combine, with midfielder Ken Tribbett and goalkeeper Brian Billings both set to feature prominently during the weekend.

    Billings is part of a strong contingent of goalkeepers headed to Florida, with the Thunder Bay Chill’s Stephen Paterson, Des Moines Menace’s Scott Angevine, Panama City Beach Pirates’ Sean Lewis and Reading United’s Stephen McCarthy all set to feature. Paterson has been a stalwart for the Chill during the past three seasons as the club twice reached the PDL Championship Game, while former Sporting Kansas City player Angevine was crucial in the Menace’s U.S. Open Cup victory against Minnesota United FC in last year’s second round.

    Lewis, meanwhile, shone as a member of the Pirates, finishing in the Top 10 in goals-against average as he played every minute of every game to help Panama City Beach reach the PDL Playoffs for the first time. McCarthy was an All-Conference selection for Ocean City in 2012 before joining Reading this past summer, where he posted a 0.750 goals-against average and helped his side advance to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup with an upset of the Harrisburg City Islanders.

    Other players to watch include Reading United’s Mario Pinto, who had 15 points in 12 games last summer, and Ocala Stampede midfielder Kyle Breitmeyer, who finished tied for fifth in the league with six assists in 14 games. Breitmeyer’s Stampede teammate Jack Bailey will be another hoping to shine after recording eight goals in nine games for Ocala this past summer, as will FC Tucson attacking midfielder David Clemens, who had 11 points in 13 games last season.

    The eighth edition of the USL PRO Combine, presented by Nike, is set to kick off on Thursday, January 23 at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy. More details on Combine coaches and team rosters will be made available during the next two weeks.


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    Chicago Fire Feature -- www.chicago-fire.com

    By JEFF CRANDALL

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

    BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Just over a month after being confirmed as a Fire Homegrown player, the Chicago Fire made official the signing of 2013 College Cup MVP and ACC Offensive Player of the Year Harrison Shipp on Thursday.

    After playing an instrumental role in leading Notre Dame to their first-ever NCAA College Cup last month, Shipp’s signing was the most anticipated Homegrown acquisition of the MLS offseason and one that the player himself has been looking forward to for a while.

    “It’s a dream come true to sign with the Fire,” Shipp told Chicago-Fire.com. “I think living in Chicago my whole life and playing with the club, it’s setting up to be a perfect situation on and off the field.”

    A product of Lake Forest, Ill., Shipp played his senior year of high school in the Fire Academy before heading off to South Bend in Fall 2010. The single year wouldn’t have been enough to earn Homegrown status but Shipp went on to play a part with the club’s PDL and Super-20 teams each of the following summers.

    Shipp credits his transition to the Fire player development setup as a huge boost in his ability to grow as a player.

    “I think transitioning from other clubs in Chicago to the Fire brought a lot more professionalism to my experience. I think having that experience and bringing it into college was vital. Staying within the system during the summers was important.”

    In anticipation of his possible Homegrown signing, Shipp trained much of the past summer with the club’s first team, leading into a senior season at Notre Dame where he tallied 12 goals and 10 assists over 24 games, leading the Irish to December’s national championship.

    “He’s had a wonderful season with Notre Dame,” said Fire head coach Frank Yallop. “He’s got the ability to play between the lines, he’s crafty on the ball and very smooth with it.  Harry’s just one of those players you like watching. We have to get him up to speed on the pro game but hopefully there’s a bright future for him.”

    At last month’s Season Ticket Holder Town Hall, Yallop compared Shipp to a young Mike Magee and while that’s nothing to complain about, Shipp says the Fire player he’s most modeled himself after is longtime forward Chris Rolfe.

    “I watched Chris when I was younger during his first go-round with the Fire and admired his game,” he said. “Even this summer, just the professionalism he has with the club and attitude he brings to training every day. We’re similar players in that we both think fast and I think that’s the key to being successful at this level. He’s someone I try to emulate both on and off the field.”

    Shipp played a similar role to Rolfe with the Irish as the underneath striker next to Notre Dame’s hulking forward Vince Cicciarelli this past season and says he’s always prided himself on putting his teammates in good situations on the field. Shipp did it throughout the season but also when it counted most, tallying an assist, in both of the Irish’s College Cup matches.

    “I was able to do that on top of scoring some goals myself. I think one thing I improved on this year was getting my own opportunities to score and I had my largest goal output this year which was something I was proud of."

    Shipp potentially has one more accolade to collect before fully going pro as one of three finalists for the MAC Hermann Award set to be handed out Friday night in St. Louis.

    “People have been asking me about it and I say that I’ve already won the trophy I wanted to win this year which was the national championship. I know I played well this year and those that watched me know I played well so the outcome of this isn’t going to determine my life but it’d be a nice way to cap a special season.”

    Whether or not he wins college soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy, the ability for the Fire to sign one of this year’s top prospects directly is a  and avoid the draft is an obvious benefit and one the player says has made the last month or so much easier.

    “I think it takes a lot of the stress out of the process,” he said. “I have the comfort of being somewhere that’s a good fit for me on and off the field and not having to worry about the combine or draft allows me to settle in. I know I’m going to be living in Chicago and I can get to know the whole organization better.”


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    Sounders FC U-23 News Release -- www.soundersu23.com

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

    TACOMA, Wash. – Seattle Sounders FC announced today the signing of two stars from the Sounders FC U-23 to MLS contracts, midfielder Aaron Kovar and forward Sean Okoli. Kovar and Okoli are the sixth and seventh Sounders U-23’s to sign with Major League Soccer clubs. They will join DeAndre Yedlin as Sounders U-23 alumni currently suiting up for the Sounders’ First Team.

    “It is a proud moment when players that have significant history in the Sounders programming sign with the first team,” said Sounders U-23 Head Coach and Sounders FC Director of Youth Development Darren Sawatzky.  “After watching them both play last summer with the Sounders U23’s and then this fall in college, it is exciting to see them take the next step.”

    Kovar, 20, played for the Sounders FC Academy from 2010-2012 and the Sounders U-23s in 2013, the midfielder was also called into the U-18 U.S. National Team in 2011. While with the Sounders U-23 last year, he registered .6 assists per game.

    Aaron Kovar said about his time with the Sounders U-23’s, “I think the U-23s is a really well-run team, and logistically they’ve done a great job assembling a great coaching staff. I really enjoyed it. We had some good games. The travel is a little hectic, at times, but I thought it was a really good stepping stone and it helped to bridge the gap for me.”

    Kovar added about the professional taste that the U-23’s provides, “There’s always a turnover of guys which at first is a little unnerving when you’re not used to it, but once you get the swing of it, it becomes part of normal life. If anything, it creates an environment where not doing your best isn’t really an option. It was really good preparation.”

    Kovar was the Gatorade Washington State Player of the Year in 2011 and earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors in his first season at Stanford, in 2012. He started every match for Stanford as a sophomore in 2013, ranking second on the team with six assists and earning an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 selection.

    “I feel honored to be part of this club,” Kovar added about signing with the First Team. “I’ve been a fan since I was 10 years old going to USL games with my dad. I’m excited to be part of my hometown club, to meet all my teammates and get ready for the preseason.”

    Sean Okoli played two summers with the Sounders U-23 during his time at Wake Forest. The striker scored nearly a goal every other game for the U-23s. In three seasons at Wake Forest, Okoli, 20, scored 24 goals with nine assists in 61 appearances. He led the team in goals-scored each of the past two seasons.

    Okoli earned First Team All-ACC honors in 2013, registering nine goals with three assists. In 2012, Okoli notched a career-high 11 goals, and was named Second Team All-ACC and earned NSCAA Player of the Week honors in October. In his first collegiate season, he finished third on the team with 11 points (four goals and three assists) and was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team in 2011.

    A native of Federal Way, Okoli graduated from Todd Beamer High School, where he scored 19 goals with 14 assists as a senior. Sean played his youth soccer for the Sounders FC Academy, and has also played for the United States at the youth levels.

    “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Okoli. “I can’t wait to play at CenturyLink in front of all of the fans. I am excited to help the team win games, score goals and really get my career started.”

    Kovar and Okoli were the first Sounders FC Academy players to appear in a MLS Reserve League game for Sounders FC. Kovar played the final nine minutes and Okoli played the final 12 minutes in a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers on May 30, 2011.


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    Orlando City News Release -- www.orlandocitysoccer.com

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City SC announced Friday that midfielder Kevin Molino will mark the club’s first-ever Major League Soccer (MLS) signing for the inaugural 2015 season. Molino is guaranteed a spot on Orlando’s 2015 MLS squad, and will also play in the final USL PRO season under Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath in 2014.

    “Kevin was out of contract with us and was being courted heavily in Europe and the States. He’s turned down deals from several MLS teams to stay with us in Orlando. That says a lot about his love for this club,” said Heath.  “He will be a great asset for us again in ’14 and moving forward into MLS.”

    Molino has been a top-performer for the Lions since the club began operations three years ago. The winger was USL PRO’s Most Valuable Player in 2012. In total, Molino has played over 4,200 regular-season minutes for Orlando, notching 13 assists from 2011-2013. That mark is tied for a franchise-record alongside midfielder Jamie Watson. 

    The midfielder has proved himself a vital contributor to Heath’s playing system over the past three years, especially in the final third. The creative-minded Molino has caused headaches for opposing defenses throughout his career in the USL PRO, and will be a key component for the Lions in 2014 and 2015.

    The 23- year-old Molino began his professional career in his native Trinidad and Tobago. One of a few Lions who’s carried the flag of his country, Molino has represented Trinidad and Tobago in national team play more than 20 times, including the Gold Cup and Pan-American Games. During that international span, the winger has notched 10 goals.

    Molino will be the club’s first MLS signing for the inaugural 2015 season, as his multi-year contract guarantees him a spot on Orlando’s 2015 MLS squad.

    Interviews for Molino can be facilitated through Orlando City Media Relations Manager Chris Jones by calling (407) 478-4167. For more information on Molino and everything Orlando City SC, visit OrlandoCitySC.com.


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    MLS Combine Notebook

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Maybe there’s something about a green jersey that brings out positive performances from Mark Sherrod?

    The former Portland Timbers U-23s and Memphis standout, a 2012 PDL All-League selection, played well in the opening scrimmage of the 2014 MLS Combine on Friday afternoon as his Team Predator side took victory against Team Nitro Charge at the Central Broward Regional Park.

    Wearing Timbers green, Sherrod scored 10 goals and added three assists, and helped lead the Timbers U-23s to the Western Conference Playoffs as he continued to build his game in the PDL ranks.

    “It was great,” Sherrod said. “That was my first season out there, I had played on a summer-league team before but nothing to that standard. The type of players up there were the best in the country, it was just a great overall experience.”

    Sherrod, who also got to train with the Timbers first team while in Portland, saw his teammate on the Timbers U-23s, Reinaldo Brenes, find the back of the net, while Eric Miller was also solid as his Team Brazuca side recorded a shutout in the scrimmage’s second contest.

    “It kept everything in my body not to talk to Reinaldo while he was out there playing, but I let him stroll by, and it was great to see him score,” Sherrod said.

    K-W RE-UNITED: Last summer, Generation adidas defender A.J. Cochran and forward Tomislav Zadro were on the same side as they played for K-W United. On Friday at the Combine, they got to face off against one another in the second scrimmage of the day.

    Zadro’s Team Brazuca side took bragging rights with a 2-0 victory, but following the game the tall forward was effusive in his praise for his former teammate’s ability.

    “He’s the best in the air in the NCAA,” Zadro said. “I’ve played two years, I was injured one year, so I got to watch him from the sideline, and there’s no-one like him, just winning headers, strong, he’s a great defender.”

    Cochran, who was named to the Generation adidas squad earlier in the week, was just as complimentary about Zadro’s game. While they didn’t get to go head-to-head often, Zadro being employed principally wide on the right, it was fun for the two former Wisconsin teammates to match up against one another.

    “For Tomo, his feet, for a big guy, he’s got really nice feet, and he’s super-calm on the ball, and smooth, and he brings that calmness to the game,” Cochran said. "When the game’s kind of hectic, and like out there for his team the first 20 minutes everyone was obviously super-excited to be out there, and I think he brought a calmness to the game and kept showing inside the hole, and that was causing us problems.”

    Zadro said he was surprised that the call for Cochran to join this year’s Generation adidas squad didn’t come sooner. By contract, Cochran said he knew the real work was about to begin, but it was an exciting prospect to enter next Thursday’s draft as one of the top prospects.

    “It was a huge relief, obviously, it was a dream come true, getting Generation adidas, but I knew my work wasn’t done there,” Cochran said. “I knew I was going to have to come here and have a target on my back, and come here and play well.”

    SOUNDING OFF: When fellow Sounders FC U-23 players Aaron Kovar and Sean Okoli were announced as the latest players to be signed by Seattle Sounders FC on Thursday, former teammate Aodhan Quinn felt a great amount of pride.

    “It’s an awesome achievement, that’s what they worked for, and I’m glad the Sounders rewarded for them with a contract, because you could tell they tore it up in college, so I’m proud of them,” Quinn said. “Kovar was very good on the ball, crossing, he has good technique, and Okoli was a great forward. Hold up play, he could turn, he could score, just an all-around forward. It was pretty easy to play with those guys.”

    Quinn, for his part, put in a solid day’s work as part of Team Brazuca in the day’s second scrimmage. After starting off in his conventional central midfield position, Quinn was moved into left back in the second half, and showed off a fine crossing ability with about 10 minutes to play. That versatility could be useful as scouts get a final look at him ahead of Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft.

    “I’m just hoping that some of the coaches that haven’t seen me up close and personal can see what I can bring,” Quinn said. “Whether it’s my simple play, they can just see more of what they’ve heard or what they’ve seen on film, so that’s all I’m trying to do.”


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    PDL Feature

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

    FT. LAUDERDALE BEACH, Fla. – Among the players at the 2014 MLS Combine, there are those with glittering resumes, with players such as former PDL standouts Patrick Mullins, Steven Neumann and Eric Miller having been prolific at top Division I programs.

    Then, there are players like Oliver Gore.

    Coming out of Rocky Mountain College, a small NAIA school in Montana, Gore wouldn’t ordinarily have received this type of opportunity. His performance last summer for the Real Colorado Foxes, however, provided a spotlight, and an invitation to perform in front of MLS coaches and scouts this weekend in Florida.

    “I knew I wanted to play in the PDL, and my coach at Rocky Mountain, Richard Duffy, advised me to go and play PDL if I wanted to play after I was done in college,” Gore said. “Obviously, Denver was the closest place, I got in contact with them, went down and had a couple of training sessions, and then signed and did alright.”

    Alright might be a little bit of an understatement. Gore had a standout season for the Foxes as he earned Player of the Week honors in early July after a four-goal performance in a 4-3 win against the St. Louis Lions. Gore finished the PDL season tied for second in the league with 15 goals in 14 games, and claimed All-League honors as a result.

    Gore is certainly appreciative of the time he spent in Denver, and for the teammates he had around him that helped his game grow.

    “It was great,” he said. “It was great for my game, physically I was in great shape after that season, training there, and mentally I just grew as a player. It was a great experience.”

    After experiencing the leadership that has helped bring the Foxes consistent success in the past few seasons, Gore also became a leader for RMC. In addition to scoring 20 goals and adding nine assists in 19 games for the Battlin’ Bears, Gore was named the Select Sport America-NAIA Player of the Year.

    That led to the call from the MLS Combine, where he was one of the second group of players to be selected last week. On the same squad as former PDL players with distinguished college resumes like Steven Birnbaum and Pedro Ribeiro, Gore is simply looking to enjoy the experience his performance in the PDL helped earn.

    “It’s great fun. It’s a step above anything I’ve been used to, so it’s a great experience for me, I’m enjoying being out here, grateful for the opportunity,” Gore said. “I was just very excited to get the chance to play at the level that these boys play at is something that doesn’t come around all the time, especially coming from a small school in Montana.”

    As for the MLS SuperDraft, Gore isn’t getting ahead of himself. With two more scrimmages to come on Sunday and Tuesday, there is still work to be done to prove that he belongs in the conversation with his more storied combine teammates.

    That being said, the thought of hearing his name be called next Thursday in Philadelphia is one that brings a smile to Gore’s face.

    “Words can’t really describe it, it would be an amazing experience,” Gore said. “I’m just happy to be here, I’ve not got my hopes up of getting drafted, but we’ll see what happens.”


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    Austin Aztex News Release -- www.austinaztex.com

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    AUSTIN, Texas  — The Austin Aztex announced today that Manuel Buentello has been named head coach. Buentello will lead an Aztex squad that will look to defend their league title when the USL PDL season kicks off in May.

    ”Based on the success we have seen as an organization, our coaching position attracted candidates from across the nation when it opened last week,” said Aztex CEO, David Markley. “However, we are fortunate to have many qualified coaches in the Austin area, and familiarity with our local players is central to our philosophy for our PDL team. Manuel was a logical choice based on his contributions the last two seasons and his commitment to the club, and we are proud that we can promote a coach from within our own ranks.”

    Buentello has served as assistant coach of the Austin Aztex since the inaugural 2012 season. In the two seasons, the Aztex compiled a 26-8-4 record across all competitions, including the 2013 PDL Championship. Working closely under Paul Dalglish, Buentello is familiar with the organization’s philosophies and has built a strong rapport with the squad.

    “It is important to sustain continuity following success,” Aztex Director of Operations Ric Granryd said. “Manuel’s appointment signals adherence to the successful formula we’ve created since 2012.”

    Born in Matamoros, Mexico, Buentello brings a wealth of experience and an intimate knowledge of Central Texas soccer to his new role with the Aztex. Buentello served as USSF Academy Director and staff coach at Classics Elite SA. His contribution to Austin soccer extends throughout his 20 years  as coach and director with various clubs including  Classics Elite, AU Capitals SC, Austin United Soccer Club, and most recently Georgetown Force, with whom he will continue to coach.

    “I am very excited to be the new head coach of the Aztex,” Buentello said.” I am very excited with the continued vision and direction that the owners have set for the Aztex to provide organizational continuity to a project that has Austin’s flavor to it. The mission is always going to be the same as it was before: to develop our elite players to play an entertaining brand of soccer for our supporters, and serve the Austin community through soccer. The philosophy has been embraced by everyone, from the front office to the players on the field to the fans in the stands. We believe that the high standards set by the owners and by Paul will continue to attract top talent to Austin placing us in an enviable position to compete for future championships.”


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    PDL Feature

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    FT. LAUDERDALE BEACH, Fla. – Wherever Pete Caringi has played, he has found a way to score goals.

    Now, three days away from the MLS SuperDraft, the former Baltimore Bohemians and UMBC standout is ready to find out where he will get the chance to test himself in the professional ranks.

    “You wait your whole life for this moment to happen and to get to a professional team, and Thursday’s obviously the start of that,” Caringi said this weekend as he attended the MLS Combine. “It’s fun to play games and do everything, but Thursday’s the goal now.”

    The PDL’s Golden Boot winner in 2013 as he scored 16 goals in 12 games to lead the Bohemians to their first playoff appearance in the club’s second season, Caringi finished his UMBC career with 37 goals and 91 points. After a prolific youth career with the Baltimore Bays, where he won a national championship in 2011, Caringi appreciated getting the chance to continue to develop, and play alongside a number of his Bays teammates in the PDL ranks.

    “Summer was a great experience,” he said. “Obviously it turned out very well for me with the goals and the awards, but we got our team into the Open Cup for next year, hopefully I’m not going to be there, but just to get that happening before I left and just to play with my friends for one more summer and take a bigger run at it.”

    That run saw the Bohemians claim a playoff place on the final day of the season in a highly competitive race in the Mid Atlantic Division. Needing a victory against division champions Ocean City, Caringi scored a pair of goals, and Zach Kane a stoppage-time winner, to rally the Bohemians to a 3-2 win and a postseason berth.

    Going up against teams such as Ocean City, Reading United, the Jersey Express and Long Island Rough Riders throughout the summer provided a high level of competition as Caringi looked to maintain his development.

    “The top five teams were covered by two, three points, it was crazy, and that’s a testament to the good teams, the division,” Caringi said. “You’ve got to play those teams twice, obviously Reading with Philly and everything, they’re a very good team, Jersey Express and Ocean City, who won the division, playing against those teams consistently throughout the summer gave you a sense that all of these teams are good, all of these teams could win.”

    After his Golden Boot in the PDL, and All-League honors to along with it, Caringi went on to claim the America East’s Striker of the Year award for a second consecutive season, a first in the conference’s history. He was also named to the NSCAA First Team, and went from being considered TopDrawerSoccer.com’s No. 71 college upperclassmen in preseason to No. 9 after the season ended.

    With that track record, you might expect Caringi to be considered a solid prospect to find a place on an MLS roster this spring. The talk at the Combine, however, has been of someone who might need some time to make the jump to the pro ranks.

    “I think the question I have for him is at the next level, how dynamic is he to get off his own shot?” said ESPN analyst and former New England Revolution star Taylor Twellman. “I don’t know if he can create his own shot at the next level, but I think he’s got something. I almost see him as being a guy that may have to go the USL [PRO] route, with an MLS team connection, and then see how he progresses.”

    For his part, Caringi believes he’ll be able to adapt to the heightened speed of play that often proves the biggest transition for players making the jump from the PDL and college to MLS.

    “Every time you go to a different level, from high school to college, college to pro, obviously the speed of the game picks up, so I feel like once I get there, I get to pick up the speed of the game,” he said. “I feel like that won’t take long for me, because I feel like I’m good with that, but there’s still a transition period.”

    The other transition Caringi will face is the one that will occur off the field. After spending his entire soccer existence in Baltimore, both in youth soccer and the college and PDL ranks, Caringi will be heading out of town to play for the first time. That, too, is a challenge that he’s looking forward to.

    “I’d like the challenge of possibly going far away from Baltimore and play with a group of players I haven’t seen before,” Caringi said.  “I honestly, no matter what city is out there, will be happy as long as they’re happy with me.”

    All of which brings things back to Thursday, and Caringi’s first step into the professional ranks.

    “I’m very excited. This is what I’ve been waiting for now; this is what I’m ready for now.”


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    Super-20 League News Release

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The Super-20 League, the longest-running U20 men’s North American amateur league, has added six new teams for the 2014 season with additional announcements expected in the coming weeks. The 2014 Super-20 League season will kick off in mid May with teams competing for a spot at the 2014 Super-20 League Championship presented by Nike in July at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

    Among the additions for 2014 are the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors, the Football Club of Philadelphia, the Football Club of New Jersey, Elite Training Academy (Virginia), Jacksonville Youth Soccer Club (Fla.) and Samba FC (Texas).

    “We are happy to welcome the six new teams that have joined the Super-20 League for the 2014 season thus far,” PDL and Super-20 League Senior Director Ryan Brooks said. “The quality of new additions to the league is a reflection of the pedigree of the existing teams, and we look forward to announcing more quality additions soon."

    Many Super-20 League teams serve as part of reserve team systems for MLS, USL PRO and PDL teams. The league features teams competing in regional divisions and playing in 8-12 regular season matches throughout the summer months.

    The Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer have been part of the Super-20 League since 2007 and consider it to be a valuable part of the club’s full development pyramid. The most recent example of this was the recent signing of Homegrown Player Harrison Shipp, who trained with the club’s Super-20 League and PDL teams from 2010-13 before joining the senior squad early in the new year.

    “The Super-20 League provides another platform of our player development pyramid, providing a link between our MLS Academy and PDL programming for not only our Academy alumni in college, but also for our age 16 through 18 Academy players that we want to expose to the next step in our pyramid in a highly competitive college-age platform,” Chicago Fire Director of Player Development John Dorn said. “We have been a proud member of the Super-20 League since 2007 and look forward to the continued evolution of the league within our MLS player development system.”

    Other returning teams for 2014 include USL PRO’s Harrisburg City Islanders, who saw former U20 player Tom Brandt compete for the club’s senior team in the past two seasons, and IMG Academy Bradenton, Reading United AC and the Westchester Flames of the PDL.

    The Super-20 League Championship serves as an important player identification event for MLS, USL PRO and the PDL, as well as for U.S. National Teams. Sixteen teams traveled to IMG Academy in 2013, with Force FC Academy of Michigan defeating Pacesetter SC of Ohio 2-0 to capture the title.

    The application deadline for the 2014 Super-20 League season is February 28 (Super-20 Application).


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    USL PRO News Release

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO is pleased to announce an agreement with the Tourbeau Sports Group that will see scrimmages from the 2014 USL PRO Combine presented by Nike streamed live from the world-class facilities of IMG Academy.

    The agreement continues the relationship between USL and Tourbeau Sports, which in the past year has also provided live coverage of the 2013 W-League and W-20 Championships, and the 2013 Super-20 League Championships.

    Eight of the nine scrimmages on Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26 will be streamed live from the new IMG Stadium Field and Field 1 at the outstanding complex in Bradenton, Fla. via USL PRO’s YouTube channel. Games will also be available on demand following the end of each broadcast, giving fans across the country the chance to see the top prospects that might soon be part of their club’s plans for the 2014 USL PRO season.

    “We are delighted to have Tourbeau Sports join us for the USL PRO Combine,” USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor said. “Not only will their coverage of the event provide a chance for players’ former clubs and coaches to see them compete as they try to move into the professional ranks, but it will also provide our clubs the opportunity to revisit players following the conclusion of the combine as they look to add quality players for the upcoming season.”

    The eighth edition of the USL PRO Combine presented by Nike is set to kick off on Thursday, January 23 at IMG Academy. More details on Combine coaches and team rosters will be made available soon.

    To learn more about Tourbeau Sports Group and their video production services, visit TSG online at www.tourbeausportsgroup.com. All matches can be ordered from HD video match footage and custom player highlight packages are also available.


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    Ragain Sports News Release -- www.ragainsports.com

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Ragain Sports is excited to announce our “Name the Team Contest" running from January 13th through January 17th.  We are looking for team name ideas that hold some historical significance to Colorado Springs, names that tie-in one or more significant attributes of Colorado Springs, or creative names that simply work.  We would like for all age levels to participate, however, those under 18 will need a parent or guardian to complete the online form.  

    Ragain Sports plans to announce the selected name on the evening of January 24th at Jack Quinn’s Pub & Restaurant where we will also raffle away items to those who have participated.  Those who have submitted a name idea will also have the first opportunities to make season ticket deposits for the 2015 season.

    Starting Monday, January 13th, please go to ragainsports.com or facebook.com/ragainsports/contest to read the rules and submit your name ideas!

    Brought to you by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.


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    MLS Combine Notebook

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    LAUDERHILL, Fla. – In addition to playing regular-season and playoff contests, a number of PDL teams compete each season in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. For Michigan Bucks standout defender Kevin Cope, the experience of playing against professionals, including MLS sides, was valuable as he continued his development during the summer.

    “It’s fun,” Cope said. “Just to get the opportunity to do that, it’s a very cool thing, but when you take it serious, you don’t just go out and roll over for those guys. You compete, you battle and you prove yourself, and that’s just a confidence-booster for me, for my team, letting us know that we can play at the next level. That’s been a dream of mine for a while, so to be able to do that gave me confidence and encouraged me and motivated me to keep improving.”

    Cope and the Bucks recorded one of the more memorable upsets in recent Open Cup history in 2012 as they defeated the Chicago Fire 3-2 after extra time in the third round. A Michigan native who starred for Michigan State in college, Cope was appreciative of the chance to play and train the Bucks gave him and a number of other standouts.

    “You know, it was phenomenal,” he said. “Dan Duggan’s the owner there and he’s a great guy; he and I got on very well. It’s about staying sharp and playing with guys you’re not used to playing with. The Bucks are a pretty good organization and they’ve got players coming in from all over the place. I’ve played with a number of guys here on that team, so the caliber is phenomenal there and it’s a good way to stay sharp over the summer.”

    Cope was named the PDL Defender of the Year in 2012 as he starred while helping the Bucks claim the league’s regular-season championship. Now, after an enjoyable experience at the MLS Combine, he’s eager to move into the professional ranks.

    “Before I got here I was a little nervous, but now, talking to guys, it’s like I said, it’s very cool,” Cope said. “I’m enjoying it a lot and the experience is something special here, and hopefully I can use this, playing with these guys, and take that to the next level, wherever I happen to go.”

    VENTER EXCITED FOR SOL: Former Real Colorado Foxes defender Kyle Venter had a standout college career for New Mexico, but if his returning Lobo teammates want to play in the PDL this summer, new franchise the Albuquerque Sol appear set to provide that outlet.

    Speaking after Sunday’s scrimmages, Venter was certainly enthusiastic about the new club ahead of its arrival for the upcoming season.

    “I’ve been down there while they’ve been getting it going, and it just sounds like it’s going to be an unbelievable environment,” Venter said. “The coaching staff, the GM I think is Chris Cartlidge from the Rio Vista club, and he’s an unbelievable guy. He used to be an assistant with New Mexico, they’re in good hands, he’s going to make sure they’re a competitive team, that they’re really good.”

    A native of Colorado, Venter returned home to compete for the Foxes for a pair of seasons, and enjoyed the different challenges playing in the PDL offered.

    “It was awesome,” Venter said. “It makes it really easy when it’s in-state, sometimes I’d get to go home a little bit. I love it, the coaching staff is awesome, the guys that come home are awesome, and playing at that high level, it’s a really nice break from college, but you get another challenge, different challenges with some better players at times.”

    MILLER TIME: Creighton defender Eric Miller, who turned 21 today, had already garnered a good amount of experience before signing as a Generation adidas player for this year’s MLS SuperDraft. The U.S. U20 international reached a pair of College Cups with the Bluejays, and went to the U20 World Cup this past summer.

    He also got the chance to compete in the PDL, with the Portland Timbers U-23s his home for the summer in each of the past two seasons.

    “It was great, the Timbers U-23s treated us super-well, we got to play in the stadium a couple of times in front of the Timbers Army,” Miller said. “A couple of guys got to train with the first team a lot, so it was great to play with Caleb and kind of see all those great players who play for them, Valeri and Nagbe and all those guys, how they operate on a day-to-day basis.”

    Miller played principally at full back at the Combine, a position held by one of his friends from the U20 national team and another former PDL standout, DeAndre Yedlin. The native of Minnesota is hoping he can have the same impact the former Sounders FC U23 player had in his rookie season.

    “DeAndre, he’s a good friend of mine, he’s a great player, so I’d love to do something similar to what he’s doing,” Miller said. “He’s doing great for himself, and he’s a good kid, so I feel really good for him.”


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