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News from USL

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    Orlando City News Release -- www.orlandocitysoccer.com

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City SC announced Wednesday the club’s 2014 preseason schedule, featuring a match against Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire on Tuesday, February 11 at IMG Academy in Brandenton, Fla. A series of collegiate friendlies across Central Florida will also take place, leading up to the 2014 USL PRO season.  

    The collegiate section of the schedule includes matches against Florida International University, Stetson University, Rollins College and the University of South Florida. Fans are welcome to attend friendlies throughout the preseason.

    Orlando City will also be participating in the annual Disney Pro Soccer Classic held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The Pro Soccer Classic begins on Wednesday, February 19, and runs through Saturday, March 1.  The Lions will face such prominent MLS sides as the Philadelphia Union (February 19), Toronto FC (February 22) and the Columbus Crew (February 26). 

    Season ticket holders will be able to claim a special discount for all Disney Pro Soccer Classic matches by calling (855) ORL-CITY. 2014 season tickets are still available to the general public but are going fast. Fans can call the same number for more information.

    Friendlies Schedule

    Date

    Time

    Opponent

    Admission

    Parking

    Location

    Feb. 11

    7 p.m.

    Chicago Fire (MLS)

    Starts at $9 for children, and $13 for adults

    Available around soccer facility

    5500 34th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34210

    Feb. 19

    6 p.m.

    Philadelphia Union (MLS)*

    Single session tickets start at $20*

    Available at ESPN Wide World of Sports

    700 S. Victory Way
    Kissimmee, FL 34747

    Feb. 22

    8 p.m.

    Toronto FC (MLS)*

    Single session tickets start at $20*

    Available at ESPN Wide World of Sports

    700 S. Victory Way
    Kissimmee, FL 34747

    Feb. 26

    6 p.m.

    Columbus Crew (MLS)*

    Single session tickets start at $20*

    Available at ESPN Wide World of Sports

    700 S. Victory Way
    Kissimmee, FL 34747

    Mar. 1

    TBD

    TBD (PSC Championship Game)*

    Single session tickets start at $20*

    Available at ESPN Wide World of Sports

    700 S. Victory Way
    Kissimmee, FL 34747

    Mar. 8

    3 p.m.

    FIU

    Free

    Available at Seminole Soccer Complex

    1900 Seminole Soccer Loop
    Sanford, FL 32771

    Mar. 12

    7 p.m.

    Rollins

    Free

    Available at Seminole Soccer Complex

    1900 Seminole Soccer Loop
    Sanford, FL 32771

    Mar. 15

    7 p.m.

    Stetson

    Free

    Available at Seminole Soccer Complex

    1900 Seminole Soccer Loop
    Sanford, FL 32771

    1

    7 p.m.

    @USF  (Corbett Soccer Stadium)

    TBD

    Available around Corbett Soccer Stadium

    Elm Dr, Tampa, FL 33617

                 

    *= Disney Pro Soccer Classic

    **=Single session guarantees entry into two Disney Pro Soccer Classic matches


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    PDL Feature

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    FT. LAUDERDALE BEACH, Fla. – A little more than five months later, one thing still sticks out for former Austin Aztex standout Kris Tyrpak about his side claiming the PDL Championship.

    “Just the last two days,” Tyrpak said recently at the MLS Combine. “We had the dinner, and the formality, and then the next day just going out and being able to take care of it. I was scared after the first couple of minutes happened, but after that I figured we had it in the book. Being able to celebrate with that group of guys, we were so close. It was like a family there; it was unreal.”

    The championship was the culmination of a standout season for Tyrpak, who was named the PDL’s Most Valuable Player after he recorded nine goals and provided a consistent attacking threat throughout the season. His performance helped earn a place at the combine, and put him on the radar for MLS clubs as he returned for Houston Baptist for his senior season.

    “I had no clue where I was going to end up at the end of the Aztex’s season, but the Aztex’s season propelled me through the year in college, propelled me obviously to get here,” Tyrpak said. “Just being part of the Aztex has been unbelievable. They treat everybody amazing; nobody gets special treatment. You have to earn your spot, the best will play, and everybody’s a teammate, everybody’s friends.”

    That meritocracy gave Tyrpak the chance to shine among some of his more highly-regarded teammates. Coming from Houston Baptist, which recently joined the Western Athletic Conference, Tyrpak used his time with the Aztex to stake his claim as a strong pro prospect.

    “At Houston Baptist, we do play some good competition, but we’re not playing the Marylands, the Akrons, the UNCs,” he said. “In the PDL you’re playing against everybody. We had a couple of kids from Akron, I’m sure we played some teams with guys from ACC schools, and it’s definitely a proving ground, and I think that’s helped me a lot.”

    After their return to action in 2012, the Aztex had three players selected in last year’s MLS SuperDraft, including Rookie of the Year Dillon Powers and 18-year-old standout Kekuta Manneh. This year, Tyrpak won’t be the only member of the club moving into MLS, with former Aztex coach Paul Dalglish joining Jeff Cassar’s coaching staff at Real Salt Lake.

    “If there’s anybody that I would say deserved it, it would be him,” Tyrpak said. “He pushed us to work day-in and day-out.”

    Given his relationship with Dalglish, Tyrpak would be happy to head to RSL should they take him in Thursday’s SuperDraft. No matter where he is selected, though, Tyrpak is focused on getting up to speed not just to the game on the field, but to the day-in, day-out attitude expected of a professional.

    “This is a job now, people are getting paid, and you’ve got to go in there and earn your spot just like with the Aztex, but I guess even more so there,” Tyrpak said. “You’ve got to pay your dues as well, because you’re going to be a rookie, you’re going to be around guys that are more experienced, that have been around the league, so you’ve got to take that into account and just go out and play your game.”

    After scoring a goal in Sunday’s scrimmages while linking up well with Maryland and former New Orleans Jesters forward Patrick Mullins, things appeared to be moving in the right direction for Tyrpak in terms of his draft stock.

    “He’s very active,” ESPN analyst and former New England Revolution star Taylor Twellman said. “I think he’s dynamic. I thought he took his finish very well; he was composed. He kind of reminds me a little bit like a Chris Rolfe, maybe, and I think he’s going to be taken.”

    After watching his former Aztex teammates perform in MLS this past summer, Tyrpak is certainly eager to show he belongs in the same conversation.

    “Oh, definitely, Dillon getting Rookie of the Year, he came in and he earned it,” Tyrpak said. “Kekuta - I loved playing with him, and when he scored his hat trick I was watching and I was rooting for him, but you always have that feeling that while they’re there now, I want to get my chance, I want to get up there and do those things.”


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    PDL News Release

    Thursday, January 16, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – Former standouts of the PDL, led by top-five selections Steven Birnbaum, Steven Neumann and Eric Miller, learned their new clubs on Thursday as MLS held the 2014 SuperDraft. Held in conjunction with the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia, the SuperDraft saw six former PDL players selected in the top 10, and 25 former PDL and Super-20 League alumni selected overall.

    The 2014 MLS SuperDraft continued the remarkable success of the PDL in helping the development of potential future professionals. In the past five seasons, 162 of the 232 players selected in the SuperDraft have played in the PDL, a remarkable 70 percent of selections. The past three MLS Rookie of the Year honorees have also been PDL alumni, with the Austin Aztex’s Dillon Powers claiming the award in 2013 for the Colorado Rapids to follow Reading United’s C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City) in 2011 and the Chicago Fire U-23’s Austin Berry (Chicago Fire) in 2012.

    Birnbaum was selected with the No. 2 pick by D.C. United after competing for Orange County Blue Star in the PDL in both 2010 and 2011. Neumann, the captain of Reading United AC in 2013, was then selected with the No. 4 pick by the New England Revolution, and Miller went next, with the former Portland Timbers U-23s standout being taken by the Montreal Impact.

    Neumann led a contingent of five former Reading players selected, with 2013 PDL All-League defender Damion Lowe the next to be taken with the No. 8 pick by the Seattle Sounders FC. Defender Ben Sweat was also selected in the first round, being taken by the Columbus Crew with the No. 14 pick, and he was joined on selected later by Pedro Ribeiro, who was selected by United’s MLS affiliate the Philadelphia Union. The Sounders then returned to take center back Jimmy Ockford with the second pick of the second round. Reading has now had 10 players selected overall in the past two SuperDrafts.

    Other PDL alumni selected in the top 10 included former Real Colorado Foxes forward Tesho Akindele, who was taken with the No. 6 selection by FC Dallas, and Ventura County Fusion midfielder JJ Koval, who went to the San Jose Earthquakes with the No. 9 pick.

    Lowe was not the only former PDL honoree to be selected, with 2012 Defender of the Year Kevin Cope of the Michigan Bucks being taken with the 25th pick overall by the Philadelphia Union. 2012 All-League forward Mark Sherrod was selected by the Houston Dynamo with the No. 32 pick.

    PDL alumni who were also selected in the first round included former New Orleans Jesters forward Patrick Mullins, who joined Neumann in New England after being taken with the 11th pick. Former OC Blues Strikers defender Marco Franco went to the Chicago Fire with the 13th selection, and former Michigan Bucks and K-W United FC Generation adidas pick A.J. Cochran was taken with the No. 16 selection by Houston.

    The SuperDraft selections added to the MLS Homegrown Players signed in the new year that will join the professional ranks this spring, with PDL alumni Harrison Shipp and Chris Ritter signing with the Chicago Fire, Sean Okoli and Aaron Kovar with the Seattle Sounders FC, and Bryan Gallego with the Portland Timbers.


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  • 01/17/14--19:00: Hammerheads Unveil New Logo
  • Wilmington Hammerheads News Release -- www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Wilmington Hammerheads unveiled Friday a new logo that will further serve the club beginning with the upcoming 2014 USL PRO regular season. In conjunction with the creation of the logo came the collaborative decision to add ‘FC’ to the end of Wilmington Hammerheads.

    “Logos are the foundation of an organization’s brand identity,” said George Altirs, Owner of Wilmington Hammerheads FC. “Adding ‘FC’ originated during the process of redesigning the logo. Our goal is to give the logo and name a bigger association with soccer, but not losing the integrity of local association that would resonate with fans.”

    Seeking a more modern look while retaining the recognizable aspects of the Hammerheads brand, the team is proud of the new logo which combines the past with present.

    The logo utilizes the Hammerheads blue, elite navy, and white color palette and features an aggressive-looking form of the hammerhead sharks in a symmetrical approach. The logo contains several features to that of the past logo with the distinctive shield, soccer ball imagery and Hammerheads blue and white striping in the background.

    The star, found in the previous logo signifying the 2003 USL PRO Championship, will be present on the match day uniforms only.

    The Hammerheads are pleased to announce the launch of their newly redesigned website as a component of rebranding alongside the updated logo and name. The new Wilmington Hammerheads FC site, created by Sage Island, a leading marketing agency in the Wilmington area, showcases fan experience while featuring a clean, user-friendly and engaging design.

    The goal of the website is to reflect the energy the Hammerheads team and fans have on the field. The custom-designed site features toggling social media feeds to view the latest posts in real time, a calendar highlighting games, player appearances and community events, as well as a Spanish translation feature. The site offers streamlined navigation and content that caters to its dedicated fan base and makes it easy to find news and information. It also features online ticket purchasing through the Etix platform, new for this season.

    “This rebranding is a reflection of preserving the old, while embracing the new through the redevelopment and renovation of existing elements,” said Jason Arnold, Wilmington Hammerheads FC General Manager. “We want this new energy to be resonated throughout our community and fans.”

    Wilmington Hammerheads FC have also recently located to a new office in the downtown Wilmington area with the objective of increasing public visibility and being more accessible to current and potential fans.

    There will be a ceremonial ribbon cutting on Wednesday, January 29 at 3:00 p.m. to inaugurate the new Wilmington Hammerheads FC location at 108 Grace Street. This event is for media and invitees only. The Hammerheads will be holding an Open House for fans from 6:00-8:00 p.m. the same day.

    For more information regarding Wilmington Hammerheads FC, please contact (910)777-2111 or visit www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com.


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    W-League News Release

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – Led by former Long Island Rough Riders forward Crystal Dunn, selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Spirit, former W-League standouts featured prominently in the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League Draft, held on Friday morning in conjunction with the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia. Dunn led a group of five former W-League and W-20 players selected in the first round, and 17 overall, who will join the NWSL for its second season this spring.

    Dunn was the second consecutive W-League alum taken with the No. 1 pick, following former LA Strikers player Zakiya Bywaters in 2013. Dunn’s selection continued the W-League’s history of helping develop top college players as they move toward the professional ranks. Sydney Leroux (No. 1, 2012 WPS Draft), Alex Morgan (No. 1, 2011 WPS Draft) and Tobin Heath (No. 1, 2010 WPS Draft) all preceded Dunn and Bywaters as top selections who arrived in the professional ranks with W-League experience.

    Hayes was joined in being selected from the Rough Riders by Kim DeCesare, who was selected by the Boston Breakers with the 34th pick of the draft. DeCesare and Dunn were teammates in 2011, and the Duke defender made 26 appearances during her Rough Riders career.

    Also selected in the first round was former W-20 standout Vanessa DiBernardo, who starred at the 2010 W-20 Championships for the Chicago Red 11. After a stellar college career at Illinois, she was selected with the No. 4 pick by the Chicago Red Stars. Former LA Blues defender Kassey Kallman was taken with the No. 5 pick by FC Kansas City and was one of two members of the Blues’ starting 11 for the 2013 W-League Championship Game to be selected, alongside Elizabeth Eddy, who was picked by the Sky Blue FC.

    One of their opponents in that contest, Nkem Ezurike of the Laval Comets, was also taken in the first round with the No. 8 pick by Boston Breakers, while former New Jersey Wildcats standout Maya Hayes returned to her home state and Sky Blue FC with the No. 6 pick.

    A pair of former W-League honorees will make the move to the top level of women’s soccer in North America, with 2012 All-Western Conference selection Michelle Pao of the LA Blues being taken with the 24th pick by Sky Blue FC, and 2013 All-League selection Kristen Hamilton of the Colorado Rapids Women being taken with the 36th pick by the Western New York Flash.

    Other notable players to be selected include former LA Blues and Vancouver Whitecaps Women midfielder Jenna Richmond, who helped UCLA claim its first NCAA Championship this past fall, and former Colorado Rush goalkeeper Kelsey Wys, who helped Florida State reach the championship game before it fell against the Bruins. In addition, Molly Menchel made the jump from the Washington Spirit Reserves, for whom she made 16 appearances in two seasons, to the Spirit’s first team as she was selected with the No. 26 pick. 


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    USL PRO News Release

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla.USL PRO is pleased to announce that every USL PRO regular season and playoff game will stream live on YouTube starting in 2014 via team channels. The largest global video sharing site, YouTube will allow fans worldwide to follow every moment of action during the USL PRO season. 

    Being a part of the YouTube Partner Program will allow USL PRO greater flexibility in content management while YouTube’s visibility and comprehensive structure will present USL PRO fans with a set of interactive features like never before. Live games and on-demand content will be available for free on each team’s YouTube channel, with archived games available shortly after each game’s completion.
     
    "Online streaming is a vital component of the growth of the league," USL President Tim Holt said. "YouTube eliminates barriers that previously stood between fans and the action on the field. We want fans worldwide to take notice of the high quality of play in USL PRO and see the importance of the league in the North American soccer landscape. YouTube makes this process much easier and we’re thrilled to have this relationship.”

    The USL PRO YouTube channel will showcase all of the archived and on-demand content produced by each team, including the USL PRO Goal of the Week as well as USL PRO Weekly, an audio podcast that will uncover the personalities behind the league.

    Some of the features YouTube Live will present to fans during live games include DVR, chat, full HD support, and social media interactivity. Fans are encouraged to subscribe for free to the team-specific YouTube channels. Please visit http://www.uslsoccer.com/connect for links to each USL PRO account.

    YouTube Quick Facts

    • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
    • More than six billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube - almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50 percent more than last year
    • Approximately 40 percent of all YouTube viewing happens on mobile devices
    • More than one billion unique viewers visit YouTube each month

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    USL PRO News Release

    Monday, January 20, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO today announced the coaches for the 2014 USL PRO Combine presented by Nike, which is set to kick off at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy on Thursday and run through Sunday. Among those set to lead more than 100 players through training and scrimmages are coaches from the professional ranks and the PDL, as well as former professional players.

    “We are very pleased to welcome back a number of familiar faces for this year’s Combine,” USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor said. “The experience brought by this year’s Combine coaches will prove invaluable as they provide input and leadership for all of the players in attendance as they try to prove their readiness to make the jump into the professional ranks.”

    Two notable figures who return to the Combine are the Chicago Fire’s Larry Sunderland and U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeping coach Paul Rodgers. Sunderland, the Fire’s Academy Director, brings extensive experience in the professional and academy ranks, with the work he and his staff have put in for the Fire bearing fruit most recently in the form of Homegrown Player signings Harrison Shipp and Chris Ritter.

    Rodgers, pictured at last year’s event, has been on the staff of the U.S. Women’s National Team for four years, being part of the team’s Olympic Gold Medal-winning staff in 2012. Rodgers has helped develop players such as Hope Solo, and holds a USSF ‘A’ license, UEFA ‘B’ license and UEFA Goalkeeper License.

    From the PDL ranks, Victoria Highlanders coach Steve Simonson joins the Combine after leading his side to a Western Conference championship in 2013. Toronto Lynx coaches Duncan Wilde and Billy Steele return for a second consecutive season, and former Michigan Bucks coach Gary Parsons, the 2012 PDL Coach of the Year, is also set to help guide players as they look to make the jump to the professional ranks.

    A number of former professionals will also lead squads, as former Manchester United midfielder Gordon Hill returns for a second consecutive year. Paul Buckle, who played professionally for 18 years and managed English clubs Torquay United, Exeter Rovers and Luton Town before moving to the United States late last year, will also participate, as will Gwynne Williams, the new Technical Director of the Puget Sound Gunners in the PDL.

    Two top coaches from IMG Academy are also set to guide players through the weekend, with former English professional Aidan Davison and the Academy’s head goalkeeping coach Scott Bowers both set to return to the combine’s sidelines.

    The eighth edition of the USL PRO Combine presented by Nike is set to kick off on Thursday, January 23 at IMG Academy, with the weekend’s scrimmages set to be streamed live by Tourbeau Sports on the USL PRO YouTube channel. Final rosters for the event will be released on Tuesday.


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    Mississippi Brilla News Release -- www.brillasoccer.org

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    CLINTON, Miss. -- It’s hard to imagine a Mississippi Brilla FC season without Phillip Buffington, and the 2014 campaign will be no different from six of the seven previous Brilla seasons. Buffington, a Jackson, Miss. native, has committed to return for his seventh season wearing the sky-blue Brilla uniform.

    “Phillip has been such a big part of Brilla since our very first season,” said President and General Manager Rusty Bryant. “I dread the day that he is not on our roster, and I’m really glad that we won’t have to worry about that in 2014.”

    Buffington made his first appearance with Mississippi Brilla during their inaugural PDL season in 2007. Since then, he has appeared in 61 games over six seasons, tallying 25 goals. Buffington had a couple of professional stints in USL PRO, and also Australia, but has been a mainstay in Mississippi throughout the last eight years.

    “Buff is a natural goal scorer,” said Head Coach Drew Courtney. “He was our leading goal scorer from last season despite his injuries. If he can stay healthy, I expect big things from him this season."

    Joining Buffington as a holdover from the 2013 season is Tom Gavin, arguably Brilla’s best player from a year ago. Gavin scored three goals in 11 games on his way to earning Team MVP honors. The Hartlepool, England native is a sophomore at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss.

    “Tom brings a level of competition that you want from every player,” said Courtney. “He is committed to every match, every training session, and the betterment of the team.”

    “Every few years one of those special players comes along, and Tom falls into that category for us,” added Bryant. “He was at the top of the list to re-sign for 2014.”

    Mississippi Brilla FC will kick off its 2014 season in mid-May. Visit www.brillasoccer.org for updates.


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    Phoenix FC News Release -- www.phoenixfc.com

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    PHOENIX – Phoenix FC will play the 2014 USL PRO season in the West Valley at the Peoria Sports Complex. As part of the agreement, the team will play its games in the main stadium, which will be reconfigured for soccer for the season. The Peoria Sports Complex is located in the heart of the P83 Entertainment District, which includes numerous restaurants, many shopping options, theaters and much more.

    Besides offering soccer in 2014, the complex hosts the Mariners and Padres MLB Spring Training season along with numerous community and sporting events throughout the year. Fans will be able to easily reach the stadium located off Loop-101 and Bell Rd. with access to 2,800 parking spots located at the stadium. More information about the stadium can be found at peoriasportscomplex.com.

    “Soccer is such a dynamic, worldwide sport and we are proud to have this opportunity to host a professional team here in the West Valley. Through collaboration between Phoenix FC and the City of Peoria, we feel we can produce a great entertainment product soccer enthusiasts will enjoy while creating some new soccer fans along the way,” said Mike Hyland, Operations Coordinator at the Peoria Sports Complex.

    The team’s operations and practice fields will also be at the Sports Complex for the length of the season. “Phoenix FC is excited to play at one of the best sporting facilities in the Valley,” says General Manager Rui Filipe Bento. “The City of Peoria and the Peoria Sports Complex have done an amazing job to make us feel welcome. We look forward to working with them to make our second season a success.” Season Ticket and Group Ticket information will be released in the next two weeks.

    “We are excited to be a part of Wolves’ future in the Valley,” said City of Peoria Mayor, Bob Barrett. “Not only does Peoria have some of the best soccer venues in the Valley, but the Peoria Sports Complex is an outstanding destination for soccer fans to watch the pros up close.”

    Last week, the team also announced it will be hosting tryouts for the first roster on Feb. 8 and 9 in Peoria’s Pioneer Park. Aspiring players will be able to showcase their skills and talent in front of Head Coach David Robertson and his technical staff. More information about the tryouts and stadium is available at PhoenixFC.com.


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    Orlando City News Release -- www.orlandocitysoccer.com

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City SC announced Wednesday that midfielder Yordany Alvarez will join the club as its second Major League Soccer (MLS) signing for the inaugural 2015 season. Alvarez comes back to Orlando after leading the Lions to their first USL PRO Championship in 2011, earning league Most Valuable Player honors, having gained valuable experience during his time in MLS with Real Salt Lake.

    “We’re obviously delighted to have Yordany back,” said Orlando City Head Coach Heath. “We have an MLS-calibre player returning to us. I’m really excited to have him with us again and looking forward to the future with him on the squad.“

    To acquire Alvarez, the club traded its lowest 4th round SuperDraft pick in 2017.  In 2014, Alvarez will be on a loan from Real Salt Lake, playing for the Lions in their final season in the USL PRO.

    During his time in Orlando in 2011, Alvarez was named the USL PRO’s Most Valuable Player for his contributions, which included three goals in 25 overall appearances. Prior to the 2011 season, Alvarez was a standout on Heath’s squad during his time with the Austin Aztex, playing in a total of 41 games while scoring five goals spanning the 2009 and ’10 seasons.

    In 2012, Orlando transferred the Cuban international to Real Salt Lake (RSL) of Major League Soccer, where he appeared in 15 MLS games in 2012, starting five times for Team Captain Kyle Beckerman.

    In 2013, Alvarez’s production increased, starting 11 games in 18 appearances, totalling 981 minutes for the Claret and Cobalt. The starts came in place of MLS All-Star Kyle Beckerman, with Alvarez impressing the RSL coaching staff with his high-level of play.

    Alvarez’s story is a humbling one, personifying the American Dream. Five years ago, the 28-year-old midfielder was among three players who snuck out of the back door of a Florida hotel- defecting from their native Cuba in the middle of an international tournament.

    After making it across the country on just $500, the midfielder tried out for the Austin Aztex, catching the attention of Heath. Alvarez made the move to Orlando with the club in the 2010 offseason, providing immediate dividends in the 2011 USL PRO season.

    The midfielder joins Kevin Molino as the club’s first MLS acquisitions for the 2015 season. Both will be playing for Orlando’s final USL PRO season in 2014.

    “I’m excited to be back in Orlando,” said Alvarez. “Orlando City has a special place in my heart for giving me a chance.”

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


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    USL PRO News Release

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The list of final participants and rosters for the 2014 USL PRO Combine presented by Nike, were announced on Wednesday, with top PDL players leading those selected to train and compete at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. from January 23-26. A total of 102 players will assemble at the world-class facilities at IMG Academy aiming to catch the eye of the USL PRO, MLS and international scouts on hand.

    “We are excited by the group of players that will join us at IMG Academy,” USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor said. “We believe there are a number of players that have the ability to play at the next level, and we are delighted to offer them the opportunity to compete in front of not only coaches from USL PRO, but clubs from MLS and overseas.”

    Team 1’s squad is highlighted by a pair of standout goalkeepers, with the Des Moines Menace’s Scott Angevine and Ocean City Nor’easters’ Brian Billings both coming off strong seasons. Also in the squad is Reading United’s Mario Pinto, who had 15 points in 12 games in the PDL this past summer, and FC Tucson midfielder David Clemens, who had five goals to lead his side.

    Team 2 is led by Panama City Beach Pirates goalkeeper Sean Lewis, who finished 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. Also included in the squad is the Austin Aztex’s Eddie Campbell, who helped his side claim the PDL championship this past summer.

    Another member of the Aztex is set to play on Team 3, with All-Conference selection Max Gunderson part of the squad’s defensive group. One of Gunderson’s opponents in the 2013 PDL Championship Game, the Thunder Bay Chill’s Paul Dillon, is also included in the squad, as is Tommy Ramos, who had four goals for Phoenix FC in USL PRO.

    Team 4 is highlighted by Ocala Stampede midfielder Kyle Breitmeyer, who helped lead his side to a second consecutive Southeast Division title with six goals and six assists in 2013. Experienced central midfielder Joseph Niouky of the Jersey Express will also be one to watch after his previous stint with the New England Revolution.

    Team 5 includes Ocean City Nor’easters midfielder Kenny Tribbett, who recorded four goals and three assists before finishing second in points for Drexel while claiming NSCAA All-Region honors. The Ocala Stampede’s Jack Bailey is also in the squad after he scored eight goals in nine games for the side in 2013, while FC London holding midfielder Brandon helped his side claim the Great Lakes Division.

    Rounding out the squads is Team 6, which includes Thunder Bay Chill goalkeeping standout Stephen Paterson, a former All-Conference selection who recorded a 0.625 goals-against average and five shutouts in eight games this past summer. Also in the side is the Ocala Stampede’s Kenny Hogg, who led the Stampede with 20 points in a three-pronged attack with fellow Combine attendees Breitmeyer and Bailey.

    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. Eight of the nine scrimmages will be streamed live on the USL PRO YouTube channel by Tourbeau Sports, with live updates also available on Twitter (@USLPRO) and daily updates on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram (@USLPRO).


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    Wilmington Hammerheads FC News Release -- www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    WILMINGTON, N.C. – Wilmington Hammerheads FC announced today that they have formed an affiliate partnership with Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. As the official USL PRO affiliate of Toronto FC, the Hammerheads will receive a minimum of four MLS-contracted players for the 2014 USL PRO regular season.

    “The affiliation announcement with Toronto FC is a monumental day for Wilmington Hammerheads FC and the city of Wilmington,” said Jason Arnold, Wilmington Hammerheads FC General Manager. “Having an exclusive affiliation with a Major League Soccer club will impact our club in such a positive way and bring new opportunities to us both on and off the field. Toronto FC is forging ahead with ground breaking signings and business affiliations and we are proud to be a partner of theirs at this exciting time.”

    Business practices will be shared between the two clubs and Toronto FC will have an open door policy in Wilmington that will allow coaches to be present at matches and training sessions for observation.

    The Hammerheads will be present during Toronto FC’s preseason in Florida next month to get a first look at their procedures while working together on building two successful clubs.

    “We are very excited to partner with Wilmington Hammerheads FC and continue to enhance the development of professional footballers in North America,” said Toronto General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “The deal represents the first time our club has established a full development trajectory for our Academy players from the U12 level up through the first team. On the first team it can be a challenge getting younger players sufficient match experience required for their development during the course of a season. This partnership with Wilmington will allow our players to earn those valuable match minutes and continue their growth during the season in a professional environment in USL PRO. Today we have filled a developmental gap within our club.”

    In January 2013, MLS and USL PRO announced a multi-year partnership that will enhance the development of professional players in North America while establishing a foundation for future collaboration among teams.

    The complete list of players joining the Hammerheads on loan from Toronto FC will be announced at a later date.

    The Hammerheads will be holding an Open House on Wednesday, January 29 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. for fans and supporters at their new office in downtown Wilmington. There will be a ceremonial ribbon cutting that afternoon at 3:00 p.m. to inaugurate the new Wilmington Hammerheads FC location at 108 Grace Street. The ribbon cutting event is for media and invitees only.

    For more information regarding Wilmington Hammerheads FC, please contact (910)777-2111 or visit www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com. 


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    USL PRO Combine Notebook

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    BRADENTON, Fla. – Among the group of top goalkeepers brought to IMG Academy for the 2014 USL PRO Combine presented by Nike, Ocean City Nor’easters goalkeeper Brian Billings has an impressive resume.

    A standout at Bradley University, where he capped his college career with MVP honors at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament last fall, Billings also claimed NSCAA All-Region honors for a third time in his senior season. Add in that he was also a key component as Ocean City claimed the Eastern Conference championship, and you have a player who could be ready to move into the pro ranks.

    Certainly, his experience with the Nor’easters last summer was one that surprised even him as the side battled through a tough Mid Atlantic Division before it fell to the host Austin Aztex in the semifinals.

    “Coming from my college team to Ocean City, I wasn’t really expecting anything, but then I got on the field with such phenomenal players, and making it to the national semifinals in the PDL, you couldn’t ask for anything more,” Billings said after Thursday's training session.

    Billings has seen former teammates from Bradley move into USL PRO in recent seasons, including Christian Meza playing well for the Charlotte Eagles in the past two years. Given the league’s new growth and partnership with MLS, Billings said earning a berth with a USL PRO team would be an ideal start to his professional career.

    “A couple of my buddies played in USL for the Eagles and the Richmond Kickers last year,” Billings said. “They said it’s a very good level, and a lot of MLS teams are starting to be affiliated, so what better start than to try to start off the bat, get a couple of starts here and there, and hopefully make the jump. You’ve got to start somewhere, and I’m glad to start at a level such as this.”

    LEWIS AIMS TO RAISE LEVEL: Panama City Beach Pirates goalkeeper Sean Lewis was a standout in his first season in the PDL this past summer, finishing in the Top 10 in goals-against average as the Pirates claimed a playoff place for the first time in their short history.

    Lewis continued his strong performances into the college season, earning the Horizon League’s Defensive Player of the Week honors three times this past fall as the confidence that grew during the summer translated to a strong senior season.

    “I got a lot of confidence from it,” Lewis said of his time with the Pirates. “Playing in the PDL, it’s probably the best level you can play while you’re still in college, and it’s great. You get to work with a whole lot of good quality players, and the whole level just gets sped up.”

    That experience and the time spent at Oakland has given the Lewis the belief that he has the capability to compete for a place in USL PRO.

    “I think I am [ready],” Lewis said. “Obviously, I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I’m willing to learn, but I think I always adapt to the level I’m playing at, so I just want to play at the highest level.”

    CUP RUN DREAM FOR D’ARRIGO: Two of the goalkeepers at this year’s USL PRO Combine got to experience the thrill of a run in the U.S. Open Cup, with the Des Moines Menace’s Scott Angevine getting to face his former team in the third round in Sporting Kansas City, and FC Tucson’s Michael D’Arrigo advancing to face the Houston Dynamo.

    For D’Arrigo, who also featured this past fall for the University of San Diego, the chance to play at BBVA Compass Stadium was a dream come true.

    “It was awesome, it was a dream come true for me,” D’Arrigo said. “Growing up, you always dream about playing in the big stadiums and playing against the best teams, so getting to travel to San Antonio and beat them on PKs, and then getting to travel to Houston, although we lost, it was one of the best experiences of my life so far.”

    D’Arrigo is one of a number with FC Tucson ties attending the Combine, with Head Coach Rick Schantz on hand to not only scout, but also provide support as some of the club’s players look to move into the pro ranks. After a cross-country flight to Florida, D’Arrigo is appreciative of having a familiar face around as he trains and competes this weekend.

    “That’s good to see my coach here,” D’Arrigo said. “Brings a little more comfort when you’re far from home.”


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    Sacramento Republic FC News Release -- www.sacrepublicfc.com

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC has entered into separate affiliate agreements between the Portland Timbers and the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer (MLS), making Republic FC the official USL PRO affiliate to both MLS clubs. The agreements come following a development partnership between MLS and USL PRO in 2013 to help further the development of professional soccer in North America.

    Each respective affiliate agreement between the Timbers, Earthquakes and Republic FC, set to play its inaugural season in USL PRO in 2014, encompasses multiple strategic elements including but not limited to player development.

    “We are excited to partner with the Timbers and Earthquakes in an effort to develop talent on the field, emulate each club’s business success and to entertain our fans with the high quality talent from each club," said Warren Smith, president of Sacramento Republic FC. “Our organization is twice blessed with the ability to learn from not one, but two MLS clubs, their experienced operating teams and engaged, passionate supporters. Each affiliate agreement is an important part of our efforts to provide Sacramento Republic FC, as well as the entire Sacramento region, one of the most talented USL PRO clubs in the league and a MLS vision for our community.”

    In addition to providing loan opportunities for select players, Rod Underwood, an assistant coach for the Timbers Academy and Timbers U-23s and a longtime professional coach, will join the coaching staff of Republic FC as an assistant coach to Head Coach Preki.

    “We are pleased to form an affiliation with Sacramento Republic FC for 2014,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager. “This partnership allows us the ability to aid in the development of players by getting them more consistent playing time in a competitive environment, while helping Republic FC strive for success on the field.”

    The Timbers and Earthquakes annually will loan a minimum of two players to Republic FC for the entire USL PRO season to further aid in player development, but will retain the ability to recall those players as needed.  Each MLS Club’s agreement with Sacramento Republic FC are one-year in duration.

    "We are excited to team up with Republic FC as our USL PRO affiliate," said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. “Establishing a USL PRO affiliation is a critical step in our continued investment in player development that includes our Academy, our PDL team, and our homegrown player efforts.  Beyond the player development benefits, we feel that it is important to help develop professional soccer in Sacramento with an eye to eventually making it a home of its very own MLS team."

    On January 23, 2013 MLS and USL PRO announced a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership aimed to enhance the development of professional soccer players in North America, strengthen the competition in both leagues and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration.


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    Charleston Battery News Release - www.charlestonbattery.com

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    CHARLESTON, S.C. – Major League Soccer club Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Charleston Battery of USL PRO announced today an initial one-year partnership that will make the Battery the official USL PRO affiliate of Whitecaps FC.

    “The Battery are a well-respected club with a tradition of success on and off the pitch," Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi said. "We have a long-standing relationship with the Battery's President, Andrew Bell, dating back to our days in the USL First Division, and we are excited to formalize an official partnership.

    "This affiliation will greatly benefit the development of our younger players by providing an opportunity for them receive more minutes in a professional environment, and as a result it will help with player transition from our Residency and U-23 programs into the first team.”

    Whitecaps FC will loan a minimum of four players from their MLS roster to the South Carolina outfit during the 2014 USL PRO season. As a result, the ‘Caps will not participate in the MLS Reserve League in 2014.

    In addition to the player benefits, Whitecaps FC and the Battery will share best practices on and off the field including technical coordination and strategic initiatives.

    "We are very excited about the potential that this brings," Charleston President Bell said. "We’ve been working on the details for some time now and it’s great to finally formalize the partnership. Vancouver Whitecaps FC is an ambitious and forward-thinking club and it’s been refreshing to note all the synergies between our organizations.  We are looking forward to working with them closely and hopefully contributing to their future success."


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    USL PRO News Release

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The 2014 USL PRO Combine presented by Nike opened on Thursday afternoon at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy, with 12 top goalkeepers put through a rigorous technical training session by the assembled coaches. As USL PRO coaches looked on, the goalkeepers were put through a series of challenging exercises as the goalkeeping staff worked on player technique.

    “We’re very pleased with the quality of the goalkeepers,” USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor said. “Without a doubt, everybody deserves to be here, and already we feel there are certainly two or three that in the consensus of the coaching staff are certainly more than capable of playing USL PRO.”

    Among the coaches that worked with each group of four goalkeepers was U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeping coach Paul Rodgers, Portland Timbers Academy and Goalkeeping Director Adam Smith, and IMG Academy Goalkeeping Director Scott Bowers. With the decades of experience among the Combine coaching staff, the goalkeepers were looking to get the most out of the time they got to works individually before the outfield players arrive on Friday.

    “We got to focus on some details, which was nice,” former Panama City Beach Pirates goalkeeper Sean Lewis said. “You get whatever you put into it, if you really want to learn from the coaches, you ask them questions, you’re going to learn a lot.”

    The USL PRO Combine continues with a pair of training sessions on Friday, the morning a second session dedicated to goalkeepers and a full-squad session in the afternoon that will bring all 102 players together for the first time.

    Saturday will then bring the start of three rounds of scrimmages between the six teams. Eight of the nine scrimmages will be streamed live on the USL PRO YouTube channel by Tourbeau Sports, with live updates also available on Twitter (@USLPRO) and daily updates on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram (@USLPRO).


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    Harrisburg City Islanders News Release -- www.cityislanders.com

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Harrisburg City Islanders have officially sold defender Andrew Ribeiro to Chivas USA of Major League Soccer.  The 6-foot, 180-pound defender played in 24 matches last season for the City Islanders. Ribeiro tallied more than 1,600 minutes on the pitch and was able to record one assist for the City Islanders. 

    “Andrew did a great job for us last year; he was able to fill in at center back after some critical injuries," said City Islanders coach Bill Becher. "This is a great opportunity for Andrew and we wish him the best of luck in his endeavors.”

    Prior to his time with the City Islanders, Ribeiro played collegiately for the Creighton Blue Jays in the Missouri Valley Conference.  During his time at Creighton, Ribeiro helped lead the Blue Jays to two NCAA College Cup Appearances.  

    The recent transfer makes Ribeiro the eighth City Islander player to move up to Major League Soccer since 2009. Coach Becher has helped send a wide array of City Islander players to the ranks of the MLS.  Included in this list are current Philadelphia Union players Sheanon Williams and Yann Ekra.

    For tickets and information regarding the Harrisburg City Islanders, and the upcoming 2014 USL PRO season, please contact our office at 717-441-GOAL (4625).


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    W-League Feature

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The 24-player U.S. Women’s National Team squad for three exhibition games against Canada and Russia was announced by Coach Tom Sermanni on Friday afternoon, with 18 former W-League players set to feature.

    Former LA Blues player Sam Mewis, who was part of the side’s run to the 2013 W-League Championship, is joined in the squad by sister Kristie, marking the first time since 1998 that sisters have been called up to the same full national team squad. Sam Mewis is one of five former Blues to earn selection, with Lauren Holiday, Christen Press, Kelley O’Hara and Whitney Engen also called into the squad.

    The Seattle Sounders Women and New Jersey Wildcats are also both well represented, with Sydney Leroux leading a contingent for the Sounders that also includes Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and Stephanie Cox. The Wildcats alumni, meanwhile, include Heather O’Reilly and Carli Lloyd, while recent No. 1 NWSL SuperDraft selection Crystal Dunn, formerly of the Long Island Rough Riders, is also named.

    Other W-League alumni selected for the contests in Frisco, Texas, Boca Raton, Fla. and Atlanta include former Rochester Ravens forward Abby Wambach, who will look to continue to add to her world-record total of 163 international goals. Goalkeeper Jill Loyden, formerly of the Hudson Valley Quickstrike, was also selected alongside Solo, and a pair of NWSL award-winners from 2013 also return to the squad with FC Kansas City’s Becky Sauerbrunn (D.C. United Women) and Erika Tymrak (Bradenton Academics) looking to build on outstanding years.

    Rounding out the group is former Northern Virginia Royals defender Ali Krieger and former New Jersey Lady Stallions defender Christie Rampone. The U.S. Women’s National Team will face Canada at Toyota Stadium on January 31 at 8 p.m. CT (Fox Sports 1), and then head to the southeast for a pair of games with Russia on February 8 at FAU Stadium and on February 12 at the Georgia Dome.


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    USL PRO News Release

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    BRADENTON, Fla. – The 2014 USL PRO Combine presented by Nike continued on Friday, with a wide array of coaches from USL PRO, MLS and overseas on hand as the outfield players trained for the first time at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy. With 102 players in attendance, all those on hand got the chance to impress as the Combine’s staff coaches worked an efficient 90-minute workout.

    http://usl2.uslsoccer.com/imgs/USLPRO-Combine0124.jpgAmong the short-sided games and crossing and shooting drills, there were some excellent passages of play across the six squads assembled. According to Chicago Fire Academy Director Larry Sunderland, one of this weekend’s Combine coaches, giving players the best opportunity to prove themselves is his primary focus over the weekend.

    “We just try to get across the idea that this is all about them,” Sunderland said. “We’re here to help them to show themselves as best as possible, so if we can give them a little bit of organization to how we’re going to play, then really the rest is up to them, we’ll let them have it.”

    For those coaches in attendance, many of whom are looking for pieces for their squads this season, the Combine remains an important event as they get a chance to look closely at some of the top PDL players that have come to Bradenton. For Phoenix FC coach Davie Robertson, there are certain types of players he is on the lookout for over the weekend.

    “One thing I learnt in the league is that it’s a lot of hard work,” Robertson said. “It’s not all the fancy tricks, all that stuff, it’s the good hard work, hard graft, and keeping the game simple. If you look at the teams that have been successful in the league, the Charleston’s, the guys that have been around for a long time, the players they look for are the hard-working guys who play the game pretty simple.”

    As the partnership with MLS and USL PRO grows, the chance for players to graduate from the USL PRO Combine to USL PRO clubs, and then on to Major League Soccer, as has happened in the case of Combine alumni Lawrence Olum, Luke Mulholland and Mark Bloom, appears set to increase. For Sunderland, a long-time member of the Fire’s staff, the partnership between the two leagues is moving North American soccer in a positive direction.

    “I think these are real exciting times, the discussions with USL PRO and even up with MLS,” Sunderland said. “I think there’s been a hole in this country with that connection, and we’re finally being able to fill it. It’s going to provide a lot of opportunities for these guys to get into a league where they can continue their development, and hopefully get into MLS, and for us in MLS it’s also a place where we hope to bring some of our young guys through and find a home as well.”

    The USL PRO Combine continues on Saturday as each team will play a pair of scrimmages. All of Saturday’s scrimmages can be seen live as Tourbeau Sports broadcasts on the USL PRO YouTube channel, and there will also be live updates also available on Twitter (@USLPRO) and daily updates on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram (@USLPRO).


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    USL PRO News Release

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

    BRADENTON, Fla. – The 2014 USL PRO Combine presented by Nike continued on Saturday with six scrimmages that saw the 102 players in attendance get the chance to compete in front of the assembled USL PRO, MLS and international scouts gathered at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy.

    As teams sought to find chemistry, goals were few and far between in the morning session as some excellent goalkeeping and defending produced three 1-0 results. Former Chicago Inferno forward Gordon Gurson got the distinction of scoring the first goal of this year’s Combine, as his first-half finish gave Team 2 victory against Team 1, while former Des Moines Menace man Chris Harmon won a penalty, and then converted from the spot, to lift Team 3 past Team 4.

    The best goal of the morning session came in the third contest, when the SC United Bantams’ Jack Metcalf took control of a free kick just outside the penalty area for Team 5. Metcalf curled a fine shot into the top-right corner of the net that gave the goalkeeper little chance to give his side victory against Team 6.

    The afternoon brought better action as the teams began to develop more chemistry, and both former Ocean City Nor’easters GK Brian Billings (Team 1) and Bryce Boyd (Team 4) were called upon to make saves that kept their sides scoreless at the break in the first scrimmage of the second session. Team 4 would open the scoring just before the midway point of the second half, however, as a good pass by Ali van Gurp found Matthew Hamilton in space for a low finish into the left corner of the net, and that would prove enough for another 1-0 win.

    The second game of the afternoon ended all square, as Team 3 and Team 6 played to a 1-1 draw. Harmon almost added to his goal earlier in the day, only to hit the post for Team 3, and Nathan Douglas forced a good save for Team 6, but it would be Team 3 that took the lead just before halftime as former Phoenix FC forward Tommy Ramos clipped home a finish from former Austin Aztex standout Max Gunderson’s cross. Team 6 would get back on level terms in the second half, though, as Brad Vanino’s free kick from the left eluded everyone, and snuck in at the far post.

    Team 2 and Team 5 played an entertaining contest to close out the day, but the defenses again remained on top in a 0-0 draw. Stanford goalkeeper Jason Dodson (Team 2) saved a penalty kick in the first half from Xavier’s Tanner Petrick (Team 5) as the teams went to the break scoreless, and was in fine form throughout. In the second half, he made a number of good saves as the game opened up, including a stop on a long-range blast by Metcalf, but neither side was able to finish off its chances as the game ended scoreless.

    The USL PRO Combine continues on Sunday as each team closes out the event with one final scrimmage. Two of Saturday’s three scrimmages can be seen live as Tourbeau Sports broadcasts on the USL PRO YouTube channel, and there will also be live updates also available on Twitter (@USLPRO) and daily updates on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram (@USLPRO).


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