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News from USL

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    USL PRO News Release

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    BRADENTON, Fla. – The 2014 USL PRO Combine presented by Nike concluded on Sunday as the 102 players in attendance competed in one final scrimmage in front of the assembled USL PRO, MLS and international scouts gathered at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy.

    The level of play remained high, and all three scrimmages saw positive passages of play. The day’s opening game saw Team 1 rally back to take a 2-1 victory against Team 6 as Reading United’s Mario Pinto capped his weekend with a pair of goals. Team 6 took the lead early in the second half as Julian Berrios tucked home a finish from Brad Vanino’s knockdown, but Team 1 replied in similar fashion 11 minutes later as a good header across goal by Greg Rosenthal was put home by Pinto. The Brazilian forward then gave his side victory as he was first to Tyler Fabian’s knockdown and slid his finish home.

    Team 2 grabbed a late 1-0 victory against Team 3 as Otavio de Luca scored the only goal in the final minute. Team 2 came close to taking the lead in the first half as former Austin Aztex player Eddie Campbell stole possession on the right and centered for the Chicago Inferno’s Gordon Gurson, only for former Aztex goalkeeper Robert Mueller to make a good reaction save before Houston Dutch Lions forward Westin Vallentine hit the crossbar with the rebound. The goal would come with almost the final attack of the game, however, as Campbell cut into the penalty area and centered low for de Luca to finish.

    Team 5 completed an undefeated weekend as a pair of second-half goals gave their side a 2-0 victory against Team 4. Ocean City Nor’easters midfielder Kenny Tribbett opened the scoring as he flicked home a header from a corner on the right. Then, the Ocala Stampede’s Jack Bailey timed a run in behind the defense well, and finished calmly, to put his side up 2-0.

    Eight of the nine scrimmages at the 2014 USL PRO Combine are now available to be seen on-demand via the USL PRO YouTube channel. Follow USL PRO on Twitter (@USLPRO) and Facebook, Google+ and Instagram (@USLPRO) as it builds toward the new season this spring, with 10 USL PRO teams now affiliated with Major League Soccer clubs in the second season of the partnership between the two leagues.


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  • 01/27/14--10:46: Cole Returns To Hammerheads
  • Wilmington Hammerheads News Release -- www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    WILMINGTON, N.C. – Wilmington Hammerheads FC have officially announced that defender Troy Cole will be returning to Wilmington for the 2014 USL PRO regular season. Cole debuted with the Hammerheads in 2012 and will return to the squad for the upcoming season after playing with VSI Tampa Bay FC last year.

    “I am glad to have Troy back,” said David Irving, Head Coach of Wilmington Hammerheads FC. “He was a big part of our success in 2012 and a good ambassador for our club in the community.”

    Cole is currently on the defensive line for his second season with Major Indoor Soccer League’s Rochester Lancers. Better known on the Lancers as one-half of the duo the ‘Bash Brothers’, Cole has featured in each game this season tallying two goals and one assist. MISL will conclude its 2013-2014 season in March.

    “The atmosphere in Wilmington is exhilarating and I am really looking forward to be back in action,” said Cole. “It has been said numerous times, but Wilmington truly does have some of the best fans in the league.”

    Prior to signing with the Hammerheads and going to the USL PRO Championship in 2012, Cole signed with FC New York. Cole signed his first professional contract with AC St. Louis of the USSF Division 2 Pro League in 2010.

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


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    CFC Azul News Release -- www.cfcazul.com

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    NEWTOWN, Conn. – David Kelly will continue his tenure as CFC Azul’s Head Coach. The club is excited to announce today that Kelly has agreed to coach the PDL squad for a third season.

    “I am excited to be back for another year with CFC Azul,” Kelly said. “It’s a fantastic club with big plans, and they’re a group that try to do things right. It’s a really professional setup, and I am delighted that I will be in charge of the first team again. With the support of owner Peter D’Amico, President Steve Coxon, and General Manager Robin Schuppert, this year will be the club’s best yet.”

    Kelly, who also serves as the Assistant Coach for the Central Connecticut State University men’s soccer program, has been the first team head coach since the club’s inaugural PDL season in 2012.

    New to the PDL, Kelly led the Azul to a fourth-place finish in the Northeast Division with an overall record of 6-5-5 in 2012. The Azul finished third in the Division in goals scored (24) and second in goals against (14). In an injury ridden 2013 campaign Kelly led the Azul to a 2-6-6 record, good for a sixth place finish in the Northeast Division.

    Kelly will name his coaching staff for the 2014 season in the coming weeks.

    “I’m extremely happy Dave has decided to return for another season,” CFC Azul General Manager Robin Schuppert said. “Last year’s results were no indication of his qualities but rather the effects of the injury-bug which stuck with our team all season. He’s a great coach, works extremely hard and holds the players to a very high standard. I know he’s in the process of putting together a great squad for the upcoming season.”

    The club has announced the first two dates of open tryouts for the 2014 PDL season scheduled for February 4th and 5th. CLICK HERE to register.

    For more details about CFC Azul please visit our website, “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or e-mail us at info@cfcazul.com.


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    Orlando City News Release -- www.orlandocitysoccer.com

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City SC announced Monday the signing of midfielder Austin Da Luz and former Orlando City U23s midfielder Joseph Toby to the 2014 USL PRO squad, pending USSF approval. Toby and da Luz join the Lions in their final USL PRO season, with Head Coach Adrian Heath retooling the roster with an eye toward the club’s entry into Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2015.

    Toby has spent time in the Orlando City pyramid system, playing for the Orlando City U23s in the Summer of 2012. Toby becomes part of a line of players who have been promoted from the U23s, including such standouts as Adama Mbengue and Oumar Diakhite. The midfielder was the second-ever signing by the Orlando City U23s when it began operation in early 2012.   

    “He’s has a lot of physical tools, as we’ve seen through our U23 team,” said Heath. “He’ll come in as backup to (Luke) Boden and it’ll be up to him to see if he can break through the squad. Our U23 team gives us a chance to watch and evaluate the players, which is of benefit to them as they may get a shot at the pro team.”

    The Flagler College standout most recently played for IMG Academy Bradenton for the 2013 PDL season. Toby was one of the team’s standouts throughout 2013, appearing in 11 games while notching two assists in 913 minutes played.

    Da Luz is familiar with Heath’s system, playing for him while in Austin for the Aztex in 2008. After the Aztex, and a successful career in college with Wake Forest, da Luz was drafted in the first round (14th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by the New York Red Bulls. He made his debut at the 2010 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, scoring the winning goal in a penalty-kick shootout against the Houston Dynamo.

    After a successful 2010, da Luz was traded to fellow MLS side D.C. United in July of 2011, making 14 appearances with the club. The midfielder most recently played for the Carolina Railhawks, scoring four goals while notching five assists in 1,146 minutes played.

    “Austin just had a great season in Carolina and has spent time in the MLS,” Heath continued. “He’s certainly got the talent. As people have seen him in the MLS, he’s a very talented footballer."

    The Lions roster currently consists of forward Dennis Chin, midfielders Jamie Watson, Kevin Molino, Yordany Alvarez, Anthony Pulis, James O’Connor, Kevin Molino, defenders Rob Valentino and Luke Boden, goalkeepers Miguel Gallardo, Carl Woszcynski alongside da Luz and Toby. Former Midfielder/Assistant Coach Ian Fuller has moved into a permanent assistant coaching role while O’Connor has been promoted to player/coach.

    Alvarez and Molino recently signed with the club for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, guaranteeing their spots on the MLS roster. The Toby and da Luz signings are for the 2014 season, but Heath has said multiple times that he is only bringing on players that he sees possess potential for a future slot on the MLS squad.

    “We are preparing a squad that consists of players who we believe might make that jump with us,” said Heath.


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  • 01/28/14--16:02: Reed Steps Away From Eagles
  • Charlotte Eagles News Release -- www.charlotteeagles.com

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With mixed emotions, the Charlotte Eagles will say goodbye to three-year starter Eric Reed this offseason. The USL PRO 2013 Goalkeeper of the Year finalist has accepted an assistant coaching job at Bowling Green State University after coaching at Davidson College last season.

    Reed has been the starter for the Charlotte Eagles the past three seasons and in that time has racked up an Eagles' record 28 wins.  He was a finalist for USL PRO's Goalkeeper of the Year award in both 2011 and 2013. Reed was also the backbone of a run to the 2013 USL PRO Championship Game while recording 10 wins and eight shutouts on the season.

    "Eric will be a huge loss to our organization and it is with mixed emotions that we send them into the next phase of his life. We will miss his goalkeeping, leadership, and professionalism," said Eagles' Coach Mark Steffens. "I wish Eric and Maria all the very best as they move on to impact the lives of young people in the field of coaching. They are family to me so it is very hard to let them go, although I know it is exactly where he is meant to be."

    Reed attended UCLA, where he started at least 16 matches in each of his final three seasons. As a junior in 2005, he earned All-Pac-10 First-Team honors as well as NSCAA/Adidas All-Far West Third-Team accolades, after leading the Bruins to the conference title. In his senior season of 2006, Reed recorded shutouts in three of five NCAA Tournament games, as UCLA advanced all the way to the national championship match.

    While at UCLA, Reed played for Charlotte's PDL affiliate, the Southern California Seahorses. In 2006 he earned PDL Goalkeeper of the Year while playing for the Seahorses.

    Reed's list of on the field accomplishments are long and storied but he would say that it was the off the field moments that will last the longest with him. "It would be easy to tell stories of championship runs and big wins but my absolute favorite memories all include seeing lives changed and seeing Jesus realized in people's hearts," Reed added "From kids at camp to teammates getting baptized during the season, the work of God amongst the Eagles has been miraculous and powerful."

    Reed is extremely excited about where God has called him. Bowling Green State University is located in Bowling Green, Ohio.  He and his wife are expecting their first child soon and she is from the northern Ohio area. Reed is excited to take what he has learned at the Eagles and pass it on to future generations.

    "There are so many incredible things that excite me about BGSU," Reed said. "If I had to choose one thing then it would be the opportunity to work with other great individuals in order to invest in the lives of young men.  I have been blessed to train and learn under some incredible coaches and leaders.  I hope that my investment in the future generation can carry the same weight and value as others have passed on to me."


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    Pacesetter Soccer Club News Release -- www.pacesettersoccer.net

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    TOLEDO, Ohio -- Pacesetter Soccer Club is excited to announce an official partnership with Aston Villa Football Club of the English Premier League. It is the first agreement of its kind for Pacesetter and Aston Villa, with the goal in mind of developing top-level soccer players in North America.

    "The partnership is an exciting opportunity for both Pacesetter Soccer Club and Aston Villa" said Jimmy Walker, Executive Director of Coaching at Pacesetter Soccer Club. "Aston Villa Football Club is one of the oldest and most successful football clubs in England and was a founder member of the English Football League, established in 1874. They have had a massive history, including winning the European Cup, the English League Championship along with multiple F.A. and League Cups. Aston Villa is one of the top five teams in the history of the English Premier League and it is a fantastic opportunity for the Midwest and for American soccer that this link has been formed."

    The Partnership will involve the Academy staff at Aston Villa working alongside Pacesetter Soccer Club Coaches. The goal is to share coaching education techniques and ideas to help develop top players in North America. The agreement will also serve as a potential scouting network between top American players and Aston Villa, with the hopes of one day seeing a local player in the English Premier League. This opportunity will also serve as an avenue to promote the Aston Villa brand in America and grow its fan base throughout the USA.

    “We’re very happy to support Pacesetter Soccer Club and we wish the partnership every success" Aston Villa Chief Executive Paul Faulkner said. "James Walker and his family have had a long association with Aston Villa and this new venture is really exciting. The club already has strong links with the U.S., with Brad Guzan our current No. 1 goalkeeper and Brad Friedel, amongst others, also having played an important role for us in recent times, and we hope that an association such as this could pave the way for other American players to join Villa in the future.”

    Pacesetter Soccer Club is ranked the No. 1 club in Ohio North featuring boys and girls teams from the ages of 8-20. Since 1980 the Pacesetter Soccer Club has fielded teams that have competed at state, regional and national levels. The club has provided soccer expertise and helped to develop soccer players during the past 30 years. Many Pacesetter alumni have gone on to play in college, professionally, and at the national team level.

    In 2013 Pacesetter Soccer Club and Aston Villa put together a Super-20 League Team that advanced all the way to the National Championship in Florida. After unprecedented success in their inaugural season, both parties agreed to move forward with the club partnership which kicks off in January 2014.

    For all the latest news and information on Aston Villa visit www.avfc.co.uk.  You can also follow Villa on Facebook www.facebook.com/avfcofficial and Twitter @AVFCOfficial.  Official Aston Villa merchandise is also available for purchase immediately for all soccer enthusiasts and supporters in the U.S.A.   For all purchasing information visit http://www.avfc.co.uk/page/Shopping.


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    Los Angeles Blues News Release -- www.labluespro.com

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    FULLERTON, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Blues are pleased to announce the hiring of Jon Spencer as the club's new General Manager. Spencer brings a wealth of experience, including as a key figure with former PDL club the Orange County Blue Star, which saw a number of recent top MLS players come through its ranks over the years. 

    We sat down with Spencer to discuss his new role, and his vision for the Blues as they prepare for the 2014 USL PRO season.

    Q: What did you do previously?
    A: I joined the Blues in 2013, primarily to evaluate the club. I was previously GM and manager of the Orange County Blues Star of the PDL. I also currently coach Servite High School in Anaheim.

    Q: What enticed you about joining the Blues organization?
    A: I've been involved in professional soccer for about 6 years in the scouting and managing side, evaluating players and seeing their potential. Managing the OC Blues Star I gained a lot of experience on how the Orange County market works and its potential. I ran into Ali Mansouri, the owner, at the 2013 MLS All-Star Game and told him he has great opportunity to build something in Orange County that can be a long standing professional team recognized internationally. I felt intrigued. There is a niche the Blues can hold in the U.S. soccer market and specifically in Southern California. We obviously have two professional clubs, LA Galaxy and Chivas USA, but I feel that this club could establish itself as a developing club to the top tier in MLS but at the same time also be attractive to international clubs.

    Q: What are your goals for the Blues?
    A: 
    First and foremost, we want to win the championship this year. I’m hoping that we can put a top product on the field that can a win a championship. We also want to create a niche as a club, and be recognized for being able to develop players. I want MLS and other leagues to be able to identify the talent as we help them progress in their career.

    Q: What excites you about the Blues playing in Orange County?
    A: 
    I have a long history here. I went to school at UC Irvine. After graduating, I played in Kansas City for a bit, also played a season with the Orange County Blue Star. During that time many  famous players, some who are still playing today were on the team. I was the midfielder, Jurgen Klinsmann played on the team, Matt Taylor who currently plays in Germany, Robbie Rogers was about 16 years old, and a number of other guys. I have a passion for talent in Orange County, we are very rich in youth development, a lot top national team players have come through Orange County and Southern California. I love the beach and the weather. There is an opportunity to create a club that is recognized not only here in Orange County, but nationally and internationally.

    Q: What characteristics do you value most when signing new players?
    A: 
    We’re definitely are looking for players who are trying to progress in their career. We want to be a club that’s young, energetic, but full of potential, and able to reach that potential throughout the season.

    Q: What do you expect from the starting line-up?
    A: 
    We’re going to have a mix of some USL PRO veterans, some guys that have MLS experience, and some up-and-coming players who will hopefully be playing at a much higher level in the future. I expect that we are able to compete with anyone.

    Q: Can you describe how you and Coach Yazdani will work together throughout the season?
    A: 
    Coach Daryoush Yazdani joined the coaching staff midway through last season, so I’m excited that he will start from scratch with a pre-season this year. He’s really adamant about seeing our team grow. We identified a few areas where we felt we could improve in, and he’s really excited about being able to implement that going into this season. We both want  our team to compete for in championship this year.

    Q: Anything you’d like to say to the fans?
    A: 
    We hope that our fans are able to come enjoy a great family atmosphere, watch some entertaining soccer, and see our team compete for a USL PRO championship. We want to have a professional soccer environment in Orange County. Our club is going show the world  that Orange County has a viable, strong, fun, professional soccer club.

    Our club has made a lot of exciting new developments. I’m very excited about our new brand, and what we’re going to bring in 2014. We want to make the steps in Orange County to be a home for people who want to watch professional soccer in their backyard, we want to the place that they want to go. Hope everyone comes out and watches us play!


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  • 01/29/14--12:58: Eagles Add Dixon To Squad
  • Charlotte Eagles News Release -- www.charlotteeagles.com

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Eagles are excited to announce that they have signed Jamaican defender Richard Dixon, pending USSF approval.

    "Richard is one of the most athletically gifted players I have ever coached," said Eagles Assistant Coach Dave Dixon. "He will add great depth and versatility to our back line with his ability to play anywhere in the back." Dave Dixon coached Richard Dixon for two seasons at the PDL level with Mississippi Brilla. 

    Dixon, 24, is a native of Hanover, Jamaica but grew up in Royal Palm Beach, FL. He played collegiately at the University of West Florida, with 2013 Eagles defender James Moore, where he scored 12 goals and added five assists in his career. Dixon was the first player in West Florida's history to win two Gulf South Conference Player of the Year awards. Dixon played in 15 games last season for VSI Tampa Bay FC.

    Tickets are on sale now for the 2014 Eagles USL PRO season.  You can purchase your tickets by clicking HERE. There is also an early bird special we don't want you to miss out on.  Until February 1st you can enter "EarlyBird" at checkout and receive a discount on your tickets.


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    W-League Feature

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    Having made more than 100 appearances for the U.S. Women’s National Team during her career, the Boston Breakers’ Cat Whitehill was always prepared for a challenge.

    The latest of her career came at the end of last season, when she was appointed player-coach of the Breakers after the departure of Lisa Cole with two weeks to play in the season. As you might expect, Whitehill stepped up to the mark and helped the side claim seven points from its final four games as the players responded to her leadership.

    “The girls were awesome,” Whitehill said by phone recently. “They were very accommodating, and that could have been a tough situation, but fortunately the team made it an easy transition and I’m hoping it will be the same way this year.”

    Whitehill will be an assistant coach, as well as a player, for the Breakers this season as Tom Durkin, formerly coach of the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the PDL’s IMG Academy Bradenton, takes the reins in Boston. After getting her feet wet last season, Whitehill is looking forward to developing as a coach under Durkin as she continues to help develop the Breakers young players on the field.

    “I’m honestly really excited to be learning from him,” Whitehill said of Durkin. “Yesterday I learned more from him, just talking to him, than I had in a long time. He just knows so much about the game, I think it’s going to be an easy transition.”

    Whitehill is also hoping to help develop young minds this Saturday as a keynote speaker at the Empowerment Through Sports Leadership Series event in Boston. As a longtime friend and former USWNT teammate of ETSLS founder Angela Hucles, Whitehill was excited when she was asked to speak at the event, which is set to be held at Simmons College.

    “Angela Hucles is a good friend of mine,” Whitehill said. “We’re close in age, so that kinda helped, but she was involved the first year I was here. We kind of hung out while she was up here and then sadly she moved away, but she’s just one of those people that I don’t think there’s a soul in this world dislikes. She’s just such a genuinely nice person and she emailed me and said ‘would you be interested?’, and it was nice that since I’m located here it’s an easy drive over to Fenway. I’m grateful to be a part of it, grateful that she asked, and just glad to help her out whenever because she’s doing such amazing things through all of this.”

    In addition to the time they spent competing together for the USWNT, Hucles and Whitehill also have another common bond, that of Charlie Naimo. While Hucles was Naimo’s assistant as the LA Blues claimed the 2013 W-League Championship, Whitehill played for Naimo on one of the greatest teams in the W-League’s history. With the United States’ Heather O’Reilly and Tobin Heath, England’s Rachel Yankey and Canada’s Karina LeBlanc among the many well-known players in the squad, the Wildcats lost just once on their way to a championship in 2005.

    “We had some quality players and a lot of them are still playing with the national team, like Heather O’Reilly,” Whitehead said. “The funniest thing is as amazing as the players were, and it was so fun to practice with them day-in and day-out, I just remember how great the camaraderie was. I made some amazing friends when I was up there, and we had a great time. It was one of those teams where we all just got along. It wasn’t too cliquey - we were truly a team - and we played like it. Charlie Naimo did a great job of teaching us all about possession, he loved possession, and I think a lot of it helped that we were such a close-knit team.

    “I still hold that team very dear to my heart because in 2005 with the national team we weren’t doing a whole lot, so we didn’t know what to do when it came to training, and fortunately Charlie Naimo called from the Wildcats, and it was just a great experience. I’m very appreciative of that summer.”

    Whitehill added that she appreciated what the W-League has meant to women’s soccer in North America, with a number of the rookies she will welcome to the Breakers this spring among the latest to move into the professional ranks from the league. Former Laval Comets standout Nkem Ezurike was the Breakers’ top draft pick, while the Long Island Rough Riders’ Kim DeCesare was also selected, as were W-League alumni Mollie Pathman and Jami Kranich.

    “The one great thing about the W-League is that it’s been around this whole time and it’s really helped everyone find a place to play,” Whitehead said. “Anytime you can get games, it’s very important. You can practice all you want, too, but games are where you really develop who you are as a player. I’m so grateful that it’s still around and allows younger players, especially college-age players, to keep playing in the summer.”

    The W-League has also proven important for players who have continued to play since leaving college, with Whitehill adding that the Breakers continue to monitor players in the league in the hopes of finding someone who can help the side. One such player was former Atlanta Silverback Libby Guess, who made the Breakers’ roster a season ago after playing in the W-League for three seasons.

    “We always keep our eye out,” Whitehead said. “We want to know how they’re training, who they’re training with, how many games they’re getting in. As a coach you just never stop looking at what’s out there. … It’s players like that, even, that aren’t players in college that you still keep a look out for to see if they’ve developed later in life, because a lot of players tend to do that.”

    While the W-League affords players the opportunity to train and compete as they push toward the top flight of soccer in the United States, Saturday’s ETSLS event offers the chance for young players to learn and grow from Whitehill and fellow W-League alum India Trotter. Whitehill hopes her message is one that will be well received, and will help those in attendance as they move towards college.

    “I want them to know that the responsibility is a good thing,” Whitehill said. “I think some people shy away from that and they’re afraid to show they’re confident. It’s not cockiness, it’s confidence, and be proud of who they are in whatever they choose to do. I think that’s so key, especially with women there are so many insecurities that go along with deciding what you want to be and how you want to be that person.

    “I love what Beyonce did recently, challenging women to really be great role models and showing that as much as we are viewed as equals by a lot of people, we still aren’t in a lot of workplaces. I think that’s something that needs to get started from our generation, and telling these young women that we can’t accept anything less than equality and anything less than who you are and what you deserve.”

    As the NWSL grows and matures, Whitehill also hopes there will be opportunities for leadership positions within the league’s clubs, as has happened in recent years in Major League Soccer. With the examples of Jason Kreis, Mike Petke and Ben Olsen leading the way, former players are now getting their chances in the MLS coaching ranks, something Whitehill hopes will be available to her peers in the NWSL in the future.

    “I don’t know if that’s where I’m going to be – I’ll never rule it out because I love coaching, it’s a lot of fun for me – but I hope that more players get involved,” she said. “I love seeing Cindy Parlow-Cone being part of an NWSL team; I wish that more women would get involved just because we now have a lot of experience internationally, we now have that experience collegiately that a lot of coaches when I was growing up didn’t have.

    “Thankfully, because of Title IX, we’re able to learn as a player what you can bring as a coach, so I would love to see more players getting involved as coaches because I think the influence out there is undeniable. It’s amazing how much you listen to a coach that’s been there and done that, and I know coaches like Ben Olsen have respect from their peers because he’s been in the trenches, he knows how it feels, and he can help coach them through it. I just think that’s really neat, and I hope women can do the same thing.”


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

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    OKLAHOMA CITY – OKC Energy FC, the USL PRO affiliate of Sporting Kansas City, signed center-midfielder Michael Thomas, General Manager Jason Hawkins announced today. Thomas, a native of Olathe, Kan., is the first player signed in franchise history.

    Thomas started the 2013 MLS season with Sporting Kansas City before being acquired by Toronto FC on July 2, 2013 via a trade. Thomas has eight career MLS games and 356 minutes played on his resume. He played for Sporting KC during the 2012 season as well, and was with the team during the 2012 MLS Playoffs and two international friendlies.

    “I had the pleasure of playing with Michael in Kansas City,” Energy FC Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen said. “He’s one of the most hard-working guys on and off the field and that’s exactly the professional attitude I expect him to bring to our team. He’s a guy you can rely on. I expect a lot out of him, and he’s a key player that I’m proud to have on board.”

    Thomas was taken 19th overall during the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by the San Jose Earthquakes. He opted to sign with Halmstads KK of the Allsvensjan in Sweden. He then moved to Ljungskile SK, also in the Swedish top division in July 2010.

    “I’m excited to be a part of the inception of an organization that has the potential to be one of the most prestigious clubs, not only in USL PRO, but hopefully some day in the MLS,” Thomas said. “The organization has a clear vision of where it wants to be and how to get there. Playing for a club that has high expectations, a very professional environment, and a great following is something that every professional athlete strives for. I feel Energy FC has all three of these characteristics and that only makes playing soccer for the organization more appealing.”

    Thomas played four years at Notre Dame, where he started 81 matches for the Fighting Irish. He scored 19 goals and had 13 assists en route to earning first-team All-BIG EAST honors as a senior.

    Thomas prepped at St. Thomas Aquinas High School where he led the Saints to three state titles and was named to the 2005 NSCAA/adidas Boys High-School All-America team.

    Season tickets for OKC Energy FC are available by calling the Energy FC office at 405-235-KICK (5425). Fans are encouraged to act quickly. Seats in the prime areas are being purchased quickly.


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    LA Blues News Release - www.bluessoccerclub.com

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    LOS ANGELES – The LA Blues are announced that they have signed forward Katie Stengel and goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe for the 2014 W-League season. Both Stengel and Bledsoe recently finished their NCAA careers at Wake Forest, and find the Blues a beneficial option in their preparations to play professionally overseas after the season.

    “Our staff is excited to start releasing the players we have brought on board for 2014 and what better players to start with,” Blues Manager Charlie Naimo said.

    Stengel, Wake Forest’s most decorated player in program history, is a three-time All-American who holds career records for goals and assists. She ended her career with 50 goals scored and 25 assists for the Demon Deacons.

    “I could not be more excited to have Katie for an entire season,” Naimo said. “She spent limited time with us down the stretch last year and made major contributions to the championship run. Many would agree that Katie is the absolute best forward coming out of college this year and the fact that she is playing with the Blues makes us all feel great that we have built a program worthy of her decision.”

    As a freshman in 2010, Stengel scored 16 goals and assisted on five others in 24 games. She was named the ACC Freshman of the Year, and was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist in addition to other conference, regional, and national honors.

    Stengel added 19 goals and eight assists the following year, making her Wake Forest’s first player to be named to the All-American First Team and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year. In 2012, Stengel scored 15 goals and earned nine assists, and added six goals and eight assists in her final season before a season-ending injury.

    Stengel has participated in U-16, U-18 and U-23 US Women’s National Team training camps and games, and won the U-20 FIFA World Cup in 2012.

    “I am honored to be offered a spot back with the Blues this year,” Stengel said. “I enjoyed getting to play with them last year and am looking forward to training and playing this year. It seemed like a no-brainer to stay in beautiful Southern California all summer preparing for our next professional step in our career. I'm looking forward to playing with this great group of girls and coaches.”

    Bledsoe, also a three-time All-American, finished her collegiate career at Wake Forest as the most accomplished goalkeeper in program history. She holds the record for career shutouts (33), goals-against average (0.91), and minutes played (8,697). In 2011, she set the school’s single-season shutout record with 14.

    “We have a history of great ‘keepers here, and Aubrey will certainly add to that family,” Naimo said. “She is another fantastic battle-tested ACC and U-23 National Team player that plans to make in impact on our team and in the league.”

    In addition to three All-American team selections, Bledsoe’s achievements include being named the ACC Tournament MVP in 2010, an All-ACC First Team selection in 2011, All-ACC Second Team and All-ACC Tournament selection in 2012, and an All-ACC First Team member in 2013.

    Bledsoe has also played with the U-18 and U-23 US Women’s National Teams.

    “I'm so excited to have the opportunity to play for the LA Blues this summer,” Bledsoe said. “I'm looking forward to playing with some of the best players in the country. I can't wait to start working with the coaches and be a part of the team's success. This will be the perfect environment to prepare me for playing overseas after the season.

    “I'm also blessed to be able to keep playing with Katie Stengel. She's the best forward in the country, so training with her day after day really challenges me. She'll help take the LA Blues to a whole new level of competition.”


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    USL PRO News Release

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO is pleased to announce that the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer will own and operate a USL PRO franchise - LA Galaxy II - beginning with the 2014 season. The Galaxy are the first MLS club to form and fund a USL PRO team to operate within the club’s player development structure.

    USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS in 2013 that has strengthened the competition in both leagues and established a solid foundation for future collaboration. MLS teams will choose to either field a second team in USL PRO or affiliate with an existing USL PRO franchise by 2015, with 10 USL PRO teams already having entered into MLS affiliation agreements.

    “We are thrilled to welcome LA Galaxy II into USL PRO as our newest expansion club,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said.  “Entering the second season of our partnership with Major League Soccer, the addition of LA Galaxy II into our competition is an exciting development for all the league’s stakeholders and fortifies our continued efforts to remain the strongest league below and in support of MLS on and off the field.  It is particularly fitting that the LA Galaxy, one of Major League Soccer’s true groundbreakers and pioneers across so many different fronts during the past two decades, are now the first to fully embrace the value and potential of placing a team in USL PRO.”

    The addition of LA Galaxy II creates a 14-team league for USL PRO in 2014, with expansion sides in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Tulsa, Oklahoma already announced for 2015.  The 2014 USL PRO schedule will be released later this week.

    The Galaxy announced that Curt Onalfo has been promoted and named the head coach of LA Galaxy II and will be charged with leading the USL PRO side and developing players for the LA Galaxy first team.

    “We believe the LA Galaxy are taking a monumental step for player development in North America,” Galaxy President Chris Klein said. “The creation of LA Galaxy II, through USL PRO, provides the Galaxy with a fully realized, in-house player development program starting with the Under-12 Academy through the LA Galaxy first team. The investment of AEG and the Galaxy for LA Galaxy II will allow us to continue to develop the best players in Southern California while closing the gap between the Galaxy Academy and the LA Galaxy.”

    A first-of-its-kind program in MLS, LA Galaxy II will provide playing time and development opportunities for players within the LA Galaxy player development structure. The USL PRO side offers a 28-game season and will feature LA Galaxy first team players, players signed by Galaxy II and LA Galaxy Academy players. As part of the relationship between LA Galaxy and LA Galaxy II, any number of first team LA Galaxy players are available for loan to the USL PRO side. In addition, Galaxy II may utilize Galaxy Academy players for training and on game days with Academy products retaining their amateur status.

    LA Galaxy II will train and play all of its home matches at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

    Onalfo, a former MLS player and Galaxy assistant coach since 2011, will head up the Galaxy USL PRO team. While serving as an assistant coach under Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, Onalfo helped lead the Galaxy Reserves to back-to-back MLS Reserve League West Division titles in addition to winning MLS Cup in 2011 and 2012. The 44-year-old played for Arena at the University of Virginia and with D.C. United in 1998 and then served as his assistant coach with the U.S. National Team for four years, including at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

    “I’m honored to be named the head coach of LA Galaxy II,” Onalfo said. “I’m excited to be provided with the opportunity to coach and develop young players within the Galaxy system and compete for a USL PRO championship.” 


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    Richmond Kickers News Release -- www.richmondkickers.com

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers are pleased to announce that veteran midfielder Luke Vercollone and homegrown goalkeeper Ryan Taylor have re-signed for the 2014 season, pending USSF approval.

    After spending the offseason training with the Colorado Rapids, Vercollone returns to Richmond for his seventh season. Splitting time between the defense and the midfield, the 2013 Supporter’s Choice MVP has made 155 appearances and accumulated nearly 13,000 minutes in Richmond while tallying 11 goals and 11 assists. Additionally, he is the founder and director of the Richmond Kickers Little Kicks program, which brings a soccer enrichment program to preschools.

    “Luke leads by example as one of the first to arrive on the training ground and usually one of the last to leave,” said Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer. “His work ethic, tenacity and overall desire to succeed elevates everyone around him.  Once we realized Luke was considering playing one more season we knew we had to bring him back to Richmond.”

    Prior to signing with Richmond, Vercollone spent two seasons with the Charleston Battery, where he made 66 appearances, notching three goals and six assists for 12 points overall. The 5-foot-10 midfielder began his career when he was drafted by the Columbus Crew in the 2004 MLS Super Draft and made five appearances over two seasons with the New England Revolution later that season. 

    Taylor made his professional debut during the 2013 USL PRO Regular Season Championship season when he backstopped the Kickers to a 2-2 draw in Phoenix.

    “We are delighted that Ryan has agreed to return to the Kickers,” said Cowlishaw.  “Ryan impressed us all throughout his rookie season and we recognize that we have signed a confident, motivated goalkeeper with all the attributes needed to be a top class goalkeeper in USL PRO.”

    Taylor finished his collegiate career at Radford University with the third-lowest goals against average in the Big South at 0.99 after playing every minute of Radford’s 18 games his senior year, earning All-Academic Team, 2012 NSCAA All-South Regional Second Team and Big South All-Conference Team honors.  The Midlothian, Va. native played club soccer at FC Richmond and was selected First Team All-Dominion District, Second Team All-Central Region and All-Metro as a senior at Midlothian High School.

    Don't miss a minute of Kickers Pro action as they kick off their 22nd season in 2014.  Richmond Kickers season passes offer unbeatable value, VIP benefits and incredibly low prices to all regular season home games. Guaranteed to see all regular season home games for the best possible pricing, Kickers games are a fantastic way to get together with friends, family and colleagues for an unforgettable entertainment experience - order now!


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    W-League Feature

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    The Canadian Women’s National Team is set to take on the United States on Friday night at Toyota Stadium, with a number of former W-League standouts set to lead their side in what has become arguably the biggest rivalry in women’s soccer internationally. Eighteen members of the 19-players squad selected by John Herdman are alumni of the W-League, with two having competed in the league in 2013.

    Defender Kadeisha Buchanan of the Toronto Lady Lynx and forward Josee Belanger of the Quebec City Amiral are both included in the squad as they continue their national team careers. Buchanan made four appearances for Toronto last season while also appearing regularly for the CWNT, and had a strong freshman season for West Virginia last fall as they claimed the Big XII championship.

    Belanger, meanwhile, will aim to make her first appearance for her country since 2010, when she played against Brazil. The forward had three goals in six games last summer for the Amiral, and joins an attack led by USL Hall of Famer Christine Sinclair, formerly of the Vancouver Whitecaps Women, and Jonelle Filigno, also formerly of the Lady Lynx.

    All three goalkeepers bring W-League experience, including former New Jersey Wildcats keeper Karina LeBlanc, now of the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars. LeBlanc earned All-League honors in 2005 as the helped the Wildcats claim the league championship and could go up against former Wildcats teammate Heather O’Reilly, who is included in the squad for the U.S. at Toyota Stadium.

    Other former W-League standouts selected include former All- League selection Marie-Eve Nault, who previously played for the Ottawa Fury, and Vancouver’s Sophie Schmidt, who alongside Sinclair, Brittany Baxter (née Timko) and Erin McLeod helped the Whitecaps claim the 2006 W-League championship against Nault’s Fury.

    Kickoff for Friday night’s contest is set for 8 p.m. ET, with all of the action available live on Fox Sports 1 in the United States.


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    USL PRO News Release

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO announced its 2014 regular season format and schedule today, with each of its 14 clubs playing a 28-game regular season schedule opening on March 22 and concluding on September 7. As the league enters the second season of its groundbreaking partnership with MLS, every USL PRO squad will once again play a pair of regular season games vs. MLS Reserve teams.

    Three new teams have joined USL PRO in 2014: the LA Galaxy II, OKC Energy FC and Sacramento Republic FC. Expansion teams in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Tulsa, Oklahoma have been added for 2015, with more announcements in the near future. Antigua Barracuda FC and VSI Tampa Bay FC will not return in 2014.

    2014 USL PRO Games to Watch

    3/22 – Charleston Battery vs. Orlando City - Defending champions open their final season in USL PRO on the road against the 2012 champion.
    3/22 – LA Galaxy II vs. Los Angeles Blues - The first MLS-run club in USL PRO makes its debut at home to its cross-town rival.
    3/29 – LA Galaxy II vs. Sacramento Republic FC - The Republic make their first appearance as they make the trip down the coast to Southern California.
    4/5 – Los Angeles Blues vs. OKC Energy FC - The Energy and Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen begin their inaugural season on the west coast.
    4/12 – Phoenix FC Wolves vs. OKC Energy FC - The Wolves’ home opener at the Peoria Sports Complex sees the Energy come to town.
    4/26 – OKC Energy FC vs. Orlando City - The two affiliates of Sporting Kansas City meet in the Energy’s inaugural home opener at Pribil Field.
    4/26 – Sacramento Republic FC vs. Harrisburg City Islanders - The Republic welcome the City Islanders for their inaugural home opener at the Cal Expo.
    5/9 – Charleston Battery vs. Wilmington Hammerheads FC - Viewers north of the border will have an eye on Blackbaud Stadium as the affiliates of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC face off.
    5/21 – Orlando City vs. Charlotte Eagles - A rematch of the 2013 USL PRO Championship game, the Eagles visit Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex to take on the Lions.
    6/14 – Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds - The Keystone Derby concludes with three games between the Pennsylvania rivals set for the month of June.
    6/14 – OKC Energy FC vs. Sacramento Republic FC - Two of USL PRO’s expansion franchises meet for the first time, with a return fixture set for California on August 9.
    7/4 – Sacramento Republic FC vs. Los Angeles Blues - The Republic host their first Fourth of July contest as their California rival visits the Cal Expo.
    7/19 – Richmond Kickers vs. Charleston Battery - One of the oldest rivalries in U.S. soccer continues as the Battery visit City Stadium in the 22nd season for both clubs.
    8/9 – Wilmington Hammerheads FC vs. Dayton Dutch Lions - The Hammerheads host the Dutch Lions in what could be a key game for playoff position down the stretch.
    8/23 – Rochester Rhinos vs. Harrisburg City Islanders - The City Islanders visit the Rhinos in what has become a premier rivalry within USL PRO.
    9/6 – Orlando City vs. Richmond Kickers - The top two finishers from the 2013 regular season meet on the final weekend of the season.

    USL PRO will once again feature a single-table format.

    2014 USL PRO Table (link)

    Charleston Battery
    Charlotte Eagles
    Dayton Dutch Lions
    Harrisburg City Islanders
    LA Galaxy II
    Los Angeles Blues
    OKC Energy FC
    Orlando City SC
    Phoenix FC Wolves
    Pittsburgh Riverhounds
    Richmond Kickers
    Rochester Rhinos
    Sacramento Republic FC
    Wilmington Hammerheads FC

    The 2014 USL PRO Playoffs will include the top eight finishers in the table, with the quarterfinals (No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, etc.) set for the weekend of September 12-14. The semifinals featuring the four remaining teams will be played the following weekend, with the 2014 USL PRO Championship set for the weekend of September 26-28. All playoff rounds feature a single-game knockout format and teams will not be re-seeded following each round.

    Each of the 14 USL PRO teams will compete in two inter-league games against MLS Reserve League opponents.  With eight teams remaining in the MLS Reserve League, a geographically influenced unbalanced schedule will be in place for interleague games.  All inter-league games will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings. 

    The interleague schedule gets underway on Sunday, March 30, when the Phoenix FC Wolves travel to face the Colorado Rapids Reserves at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and the Dayton Dutch Lions travel to face the New York Red Bulls Reserves at Red Bull Arena.

    Every USL PRO game in 2014 will stream live for free via YouTube, the largest global video sharing site. Live games and on-demand content will be available on each team’s YouTube channel, with archived games available shortly after each game’s completion. 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 uncovers the personalities throughout the league. Please visit http://www.uslsoccer.com/connect for links to each USL PRO account.

    2014 USL PRO Schedule


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  • 01/31/14--12:14: Mosen Re-Joins Toronto Lynx
  • Toronto Lynx News Release -- www.torontolynxsoccerclub.com

    Friday, January 31, 2014

    TORONTO -- The Toronto Lynx announced today the return of Coach Brett Mosen to their senior coaching staff. Mosen returns to the Toronto Lynx following stints as the Head Coach and Director of Coaching with both the Hamilton Rage FC and more recently K-W United of the PDL. His return will reunite a coaching partnership with longtime Lynx Head Coach Duncan Wilde and Technical Director Billy Steele as Toronto looks to make yet another step forward in 2014.

    Mosen was previously brought in alongside Wilde and Steele when the Lynx competed in the USL First Division, and when the club was also in the process of launching its Super Y-League program. He was also responsible for launching the club's first season of Lady Lynx W-League competition, and he brings a major amount of knowledge and experience to one of Canada's leading player development programs.

    "I am excited at the opportunity to work with both Duncan and Billy again, we share the same philosophy in the game which has a clear focus on player development," Mosen said. "The Lynx have had a major overhaul since I was last coaching here, with new ownership & a player development structure in place which has a clear pathway from youth into the senior game. Alongside my professional experience with the Lynx, I remember fondly my very first Under-15 Toronto Lynx Super Y team in 2005, which included both Kyle Bekker and Ashtone Morgan, it's fantastic to see these players excel in their professional careers. Sherif El Masri, Macca Wilde, Jonathan Parolini and Taylor Lord, who all went on to represent Canada at the U20 National level, together with Erik Hakim and Stephen Fattore, who also recently played PDL for the Toronto Lynx during their college years were a part of that team.

    "The Junior Lynx have come a long way forward since then, assisting more than 350 players with scholarship opportunities and one of the most respected development programs not only within the USL but North America. I am very much looking forward to the challenge ahead and being part of the club's future development."

    Lynx Head Coach and Academy Director Duncan Wilde was very direct when asked about the details of Mosen's appointment.

    "Our club has been gaining momentum for the past few years at all levels within USL," Wilde said. "We qualified no less than six of our nine teams for USL Playoffs in 2013, reaching three semifinals and one North American final, but unfortunately as of yet, no championship. I believe the re- appointment of Brett Mosen, his reunion with Billy Steele, Danny Stewart and myself, will impact significantly throughout the club, together with boosting our ongoing objectives of continued success within the elite player development process and our collective ambitions of achieving a North American Championship title in the very near future".

    Mosen will re-join Wilde's Senior Technical Staff and will primarily focus on PDL initiatives, while also assuming the Head Coach position of the club's Super-20 League men's squad, together with the Senior boys Academy program.

    "It's fantastic to have him back here," said Wilde, "Brett is already assisting Danny with some of our W-League objectives and I am very much looking forward, to formerly introducing him to the entire Junior Lynx Academy, at our very next training session at Monarch Park Stadium Dome on Saturday afternoon".

    More information and tryout opportunities are posted on the club's official web site at www.torontolynxsoccerclub.com or contact admin@torontolynxsoccerclub.com.


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    Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC News Release -- www.ragainsports.com

    Friday, January 31, 2014

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- In front of a packed crowd at Jack Quinn’s Pub & Restaurant, Ragain Sports announced that of the seven hundred submissions and votes in the Name the Team Contest, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club or Switchbacks FC will be the name of the new USL PRO team in Colorado Springs slated for play in 2015.

    Among those in attendance at the announcement were former Seattle Sounders player James Riley, and former Colorado Rapids and Rochester Rhinos player Scott Palguta.

    “At the end of the day, two names drew majority fan support and of those two names, we can truly own only one name,” said Nick Ragain, team President. “We are excited to be named the Switchbacks Football Club." 

    A switchback is a sharp turn in a road or path as it traverses a steep incline which can be seen striping Pikes Peak from virtually any location in Colorado Springs. The unique name and visual elements will provide some unique branding opportunities to the team as it moves forward in the next branding phase of the 2014 build up year.

    Season ticket deposit holders will be requested to participate in deeper discussions about logo design as Ragain Sports brings on a branding agency to hone in on the visual representations of the club. 

    Brought to you by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and the Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group.


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    PDL News Release

    Friday, January 31, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The PDL released its 2014 alignment and schedule today, with the 448-game regular season getting underway on Saturday, May 3. Among the exciting developments for the PDL in 2014 is the addition of a pair of MLS-affiliated clubs.

    A total of eight new teams have joined the PDL for 2014, with the Montreal Impact U23 and San Jose Earthquakes of MLS leading the trend of professional clubs placing teams in the PDL. A pair of USL PRO clubs also have added to their developmental structure for 2014, with the Cincinnati Dutch Lions (Dayton Dutch Lions) and Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 also making their debuts.

    The Albuquerque Sol F.C. and Las Vegas Mobsters continue the PDL’s expansion push in the southwest U.S., while Floridians F.C. joins the Southeast Division and Oregon-based Lane United FC joins the Northwest Division.

    The defending PDL champion Austin Aztex open their 2014 season when they welcome the Houston Dutch Lions to House Park on Saturday, May 10. The regular season runs through Sunday, July 20, with the playoffs – featuring 19 teams – slated to kick off the following week. The 2014 PDL Championship presented by Nike will once again feature the four conference champions with the host to be determined.

    Several teams have announced name changes including F.A. Euro (F.A. Euro – New York Magic), the Midland/Odessa Sockers (West Texas Sockers), NJ LUSO Parma (NJ LUSO Rangers) and Puget Sound Gunners FC (North Sound SeaWolves).

    PDL clubs will again play 14-game schedules in 2014, seven home and seven away.

    2014 PDL Schedule / Alignment

    The PDL will feature 64 teams in four geographic conferences and 10 divisions, with the Mountain Division added to the Western Conference following the additions of Albuquerque and Las Vegas. The Eastern and Western conferences feature three divisions while the Southern and Central contain two divisions each.

    Several divisional alignment shifts have seen the Chicago Inferno join the Heartland Division, the Mississippi Brilla join the Mid South Division, the Northern Virginia Royals join the Mid Atlantic Division, the River City Rovers join the South Atlantic Division and the Westchester Flames join the Northeast Division, while the BYU Cougars, FC Tucson and the Real Colorado Foxes join the new Mountain Division.

    YouTube Live will serve as the official video platform for the PDL in 2014. Live games from throughout the league as well as team highlights and weekly league videos will provide fans a front row seat during the season. Select games will be available live for fans to view for free on the largest global video sharing site. 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 team accounts.


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    Dayton Dutch Lions Feature -- www.dutchlionsfc.com

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

    DAYTON, Ohio -- New Columbus Crew defender Matt Wiet credits his time with the Dayton Dutch Lions last year as a great transition between college soccer and Major League Soccer.

    “It was nothing but a positive experience,” the Worthington Kilbourne High School graduate said recently. “It definitely helped. And I think there will be a lot of players to benefit from the experience.”

    Wiet, pictured left, also played for the Ventura County Fusion in the PDL, and praised the Dutch Lions’ family-oriented attitude as he found everyone from the coaches to the front office staff to be incredibly welcoming and helpful.

    A native of Columbus, Wiet recently became the Crew’s sixth Homegrown Player after an exemplary collegiate career at both Indiana and UCLA. He claimed a laundry list of awards during his time there, including Big Ten All-Freshman, Defensive MVP, Second Team All-Pac-12, and First-Team NSCAA All-Far West Region honors. He would go on to log four starts with the Dutch Lions in a shortened USL PRO season after beginning the summer out west with the Fusion.

    It was little wonder that the Crew swooped in to sign Wiet, especially since he was a highly-touted prospect for the recent MLS SuperDraft. But signing with a team that has embraced the Homegrown Player program certainly has its benefits.

    “I’ve played in the Crew’s system," Wiet said. "I know the system. Having good friends like Chad (Barson), Ben (Speas), and Wil (Trapp) on the team is really helpful. They were the trailblazers, paving the way for players like me.”

    With a new head coach in Greg Berhalter, and new ownership group led by Andrew Precourt at the helm, Wiet knows that the 2014 Crew will be a different team from last season, but he is excited for the opportunity his first full professional season will offer.

    “For them to put faith in me, it’s an honor. I’m excited to play for a great city. This is my home. I want to make an impact.”

    Wiet seems primed to do just that, on and off the field. And it all started with an opportunity to play in USL PRO with the Dayton Dutch Lions. Given the newly established partnership between Columbus and Dayton, established this offseason, it's doubtful that Wiet will be the last young Crew player who will benefit from the opportunity the play for the Dutch Lions.


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    Washington Spirit Reserves Feature -- www.washingtonspirit.com

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    BOYDS, Md. – As the owner and coaching staff of the professional Washington Spirit awaited their follow-up to first-round pick Crystal Dunn at last month’s NWSL college draft, they pondered the options for an ideal fit capable of immediate results on the pitch.  When Washington’s second-round announcement of former W-League Reserve player Molly Menchel rang out in the room, the Spirit staff knew they had secured a well known commodity to bolster an already solid attacking backline.

    No stranger to the Spirit faithful at the Maryland SoccerPlex, Menchel spent the previous two summers playing in the W-League in preparation for her return each fall to the Starting 11 at the University of Virginia.  The Alexandria, Va. native initially played for D.C. United Women in 2012 before the organization rebranded as the Washington Spirit the following year. 

    The speedy Menchel posted the majority of her starts at defender; however both her UVA and Spirit Reserves quickly learned her effectiveness as an outside wing on the frontline. In her senior season with the top-ranked Cavaliers, she nabbed six goals and six assists while splitting time between the two positions.

    “Playing in the W-League for a couple of years has been a good segue to the professional level,” said Menchel.  “D.C. United Women and the Spirit Reserves have helped me in getting ready to play at this next level.”

    Menchel quickly rose on the national radar as a standout among numerous standouts, playing for arguably the best collegiate team during the regular season last year.  She finds her experiences with the Spirit Reserves instrumental in showcasing her abilities to a wider audience in the NWSL, specifically former W-League head coach Mark Parson who now leads the professional Washington side. 

    “I am extremely excited to play for Mark (Parsons) at the professional level,” said Menchel.  “With the Reserves, Mark's approach to each training session and game was extremely professional and challenging while making those around him better people and players.

    “His passion, knowledge, and love for the game are undoubtedly contagious.”

    The feeling of excitement is mutual, as head coach Parsons summarized the consensus of the entire Washington organization shortly after the draft. 

    “Molly is already a part of the Spirit family after being a key player in our Reserves,” said Parsons. “We are so pleased we had the opportunity to draft her.”

    The Spirit Reserves will kick off their season at the Maryland SoccerPlex this May.  The full schedule should be release in the next few weeks and will include doubleheaders with the Washington Spirit professional side.


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