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News from USL

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  • 04/25/14--14:44: Cobras Welcome New Ownership

    W-League News Release

    Friday, April 25, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The Carolina Elite Cobras have announced an ownership change, with Mountain View, California-based business executive Lauren Whitt, PhD and Head Coach Sandy Burris taking the helm as co-owners as the club prepares for its third season in the W-League and second in W-20. Whitt will oversee business operations for the Cobras, while Burris will also serve as general manager in addition to her W-League coaching duties.

    Whitt and Burris purchased the Cobras from Ewell Gordon, who founded the W-League team in 2011 as the Central SC Cobras. The Greer, South Carolina-based club partnered with nationally recognized Carolina Elite Soccer Academy prior to the 2013 season. The Cobras enjoyed a breakthrough season on the field in 2013, capturing the Southeastern Conference playoff crown and advancing to the 2013 W-League Championship weekend.

    In two seasons, the Cobras have had four players named to league All-Conference teams, and one player honored as W-League Defender of the Year.

    “Former youth national team member and current health and wellness executive Lauren Whitt will bring vast experience and expertise as a proven business leader which will complement and build upon the foundation Sandy Burris has built in South Carolina,” W-League and W-20 Senior Director Amanda Duffy said. “This change of ownership signifies the club’s intentions of becoming one of the most prominent and comprehensive W-League clubs in the country.”

    Currently the health and wellness manager for a large global technology company, Whitt uses her experiences as an elite soccer player and vast education to empower corporate employees toward making healthy choices a way of life. Previously the wellness director and a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama and Alabama Power Company, Whitt played collegiately at Clemson and Vanderbilt and won a Pan American Games gold medal in 1999 with the U.S. U21 Women’s National Team.

    “The game of soccer has given me some incredible opportunities both as a player and a coach, so it is with great excitement I enter my new role as a team owner,” Whitt said. “Soccer is an outstanding avenue for young people to learn teamwork, leadership and commitment, but more than that it gives young players the opportunity to dream. Our organization looks forward to instilling these life lessons into our work with youth players and our involvement with the Greenville community,”

    Burris will return for her third season as the head coach of the W-League Cobras, hoping to build upon the trip to the 2013 W-League Championship final four. Burris was instrumental in bringing the Cobras to the Greenville market and the addition of the W-20 team (coached by Andrew Hislop) in 2013, earning a spot at the championship weekend.

    Burris completed her seventh season at South Carolina State University in 2013 – her first as head coach – and has helped lead the Bulldogs to their most successful seasons in school history. Burris previously coached at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, and has been part of the South Carolina Olympic Development Program for the past seven years.

    “Firstly, I want to thank Ewell Gordon for having the vision to bring the Cobras to South Carolina,” Burris said.  “Gordon's passion to develop top-level athletes has been the foundation for the Cobras. 

    “I am very excited about the partnership with Lauren.  We have been friends and have talked soccer for many years. What Lauren and I both bring to the table will not only supersede the founding vision, but will continue the growth of women's sports.”

    The Cobras open the 2014 W-League season on Sunday, May 18 when they travel to face the Dayton Dutch Lions in a key Southeastern Conference matchup. The W-20 Cobras kick off the 2014 season on Friday, May 30 when they head south to meet Atlanta Metros FC.

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    USL PRO Game Report

    Saturday, April 26, 2014

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Orlando City took sole possession of first place in the USL PRO standings as it took a 2-1 victory against OKC Energy FC on Saturday night at Pribil Stadium. Energy FC brought a sellout crowd for its inaugural home opener, but goals by Dennis Chin and Kevin Molino gave the Lions a two-goal lead either side of halftime before a late consolation by Steven Perry for Oklahoma City.

    Both teams had chances to take the lead in the opening 20 minutes, but it would be Orlando (4-0-2) who took the lead in the 26th minute on a goal from Chin, who scored from close range off a cross by Yordany Alvarez. The Lions had the better of the chances, and doubled up Energy FC on shots in the first half with a 10-5 advantage at the break. Lions goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo made his only three saves in the opening half, while Energy FC (2-3-0) goalkeeper Jon Kempin had four saves before the break.

    The Lions made it 2-0 in the 57th minute as Molino took advantage of an errant pass and got around a defender and beat Kempin from a narrow angle on the left. Energy FC was able to get on the board in stoppage time as Edmond, Okla., native Perry scored to cut the lead to 2-1, but there would be too little time remaining for Okahoma City to find an equalizer.

    The two clubs meet again next weekend on Sunday, May 4 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the game airs locally on 96.1 FM KXY. Energy FC returns home on Saturday, May 10 against the Orange County Blues. Tickets are available online at or by phone at 235-KICK.

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    Laval Comets News Release -

    Friday, April 25, 2014

    LAVAL, Quebec -
    The Laval Comets announced today the signing of Canadian National Team standouts Rhian Wilkinson and Josée Bélanger for the 2014 W-League season, pending league approval.

    With more than 150 international matches played since 2003, Wilkinson bring brings experience and maturity to the Comets. Equally effecctive from any position on the field, Wilkinson will open up many options for the Laval coaches. She most recently played for the NWSL's Boston Breakers in 2013 and has also featured for LSK Norway, the Ottawa Fury and Lakeshore.

    "Rhian is fast, strong and has lots of character," Laval CEO Philippe Ciarlo said. "I think this acquisition is a perfect marriage considering our new agreement with the Quebec Soccer Federation. In addition to being an important part of the team, she will be the perfect example for our young players."

    Bélanger, also a member of the Canadian Women's National Team, is a fast and dangerous attacker. She was previously signed by the Comets, but a knee injury prevented her from playing in Laval. She later continued her W-League career with the Quebec City Amiral, and also wore the green and gold jersey of the University of Sherbrooke.

    "We are rebuilding our attack for 2014 and Josée helps us to replace Nkem Ezurike (drafted by Boston of the NWSL) and Valerie Sanderson and Amandine Pierre- Louis, who will be playing in the U20 Women's World Cup."

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    USL PRO Game Report

    Saturday, April 26, 2014

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento Republic FC set a new USL PRO regular-season attendance record, but the Harrisburg City Islanders claimed all three points as they took a 2-1 victory at Hughes Stadium in front of 20,231 fans on Saturday night. Robbie Derschang and Morgan Langley both scored for the Islanders, who took their first win of the season.

    Harrisburg came out quickly and scored in the 5th minute when Yann Ekra found Dershang, who was able to get past his defender and finish to put the Islanders ahead 1-0. The goal was the former Austin Aztex player's first as a professional.

    Republic FC seemed to take the early goal as a spark and pressured the Islanders' defense. Midfielder Max Alvarez harassed the defense and eventually was fouled setting up a 32nd-minute free kick.  Alvarez took the free kick that was bent beautifully in front of the goal, where Davis, Calif. native Adam Jahn headed home his first Republic FC goal.

    The score remained knotted at one going into the break, but Harrisburg again came out strongly to start the half and scored again in the 52nd minute. Langley found the back of the net after he showed fancy footwork to get around his defender and shoot the ball past an advancing Dominik Jakubek.

    Republic FC again came alive following the goal, but was unable to convert any of its chances. Sacramento's best look came in the 90th minute when defender Nemanja Vuković whipped a ball into the penalty area where substitute forward Chad Bartlomé chested the ball down but was unable to get a free look.

    “We need to get sharper,” said Jahn, on loan from Sacramento's MLS partner the San Jose Earthquakes. “We had a lot of good build up plays but quality was not good enough and finishing wasn’t good enough either.”

    The sell out crowd at Hughes Stadium helped create an electric atmosphere felt by all.

    “To get 20,000 people is incredible,” Jahn said of the fans.  “It shows the following and it is really exciting going forward”

    Republic FC will continue its three-match home stand on Saturday, May 3 against Orange County Blues FC.  Match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT and will be held at Hughes Stadium.

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  • 04/27/14--11:04: Blues Set To Host Galaxy II
  • Orange County Blues FC News Release --

    Saturday, April 26, 2014

    IRVINE, Calif. -- Orange County Blues FC will face the LA Galaxy II for the third time this season on Sunday afternoon at UC Irvine’s Anteater Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m. PT.


    In LA Galaxy II’s inaugural season, Los Dos has a record of 3-1-2 after drawing with Arizona United 1-1 on Friday night. OC Blues FC and LA Galaxy II have squared off twice already this season. On March 22nd, the first day of the 2014 USL PRO season, LA was victorious over Orange County, 3-1 at StubHub Center in Carson. Three weeks later on April 19th, the Southern California rivals met again at StubHub Center, and the result was the same, a 3-1 victory for LA.

    Orange County is coming off a big win against Harrisburg City Islanders on Thursday night. With the second loss to LA still fresh in their minds, the Blues came out with a charge against the side from the Pennsylvanian capital. Former UC Irvine soccer standout Christopher Santana made his professional debut on his home field, and didn't skip a beat from his college career. The younger Santana brother scored two goals in the first half, and Chris Cortez added two of his own in the second half to lead the Blues to their second victory of the season, 4-1.

    Even though Orange County has seen “Los Dos” twice before, the third matchup will still be a tough task. LA forward Charlie Rugg has been a thorn in the Blues’ side, scoring in both previous matches. 19-year-old phenom Jack McBean came on as a substitute in the second half of the April 19th tilt, and immediately made an impact, assisting on two goals. Forward Chandler Hoffman leads LA with three goals on the season.

    After this match, Orange County will make their first true road trip of the season, traveling north to Sacramento for a match on May 3rd at Hughes Stadium. The Blues return home five days later for a Thursday-night matchup against the Charlotte Eagles on May 8th.  LA Galaxy II has eight days off until their next match, at home against Charlotte Eagles on May 5th, before traveling east to play Dayton Dutch Lions at the opening of their new home venue, DOC Stadium, on May 10th.

    Tickets at the gate for Sunday’s match vs LA Galaxy II will be $15. OC Blues FC is also offering 2-pack tickets to Sunday’s match against Galaxy II and the next home match vs Charlotte Eagles on May 8th for $20 at the gate (regularly $30). For best pricing on seat packages, call (714) 738-8011, email, visit, or hashtag #myocblues for more information.

    If you can’t make it to the match, you can watch the live stream online, thanks to a new partnership between USL PRO and YouTube. OC Blues FC v LA Galaxy II will be streamed live, for free, via the OC Blues FC YouTube channel (

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    Rochester Rhinos News Release --

    Friday, April 25, 2014

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Rhinos will open their 19th season in Rochester on Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. at Sahlen's Stadium against the Charleston Battery. Sunday's contest will also see the first class inducted into the Rochester Soccer Hall of Fame, with former U.S. Men's National Team Player Brian Bliss and U.S. Women's National Team standout Abby Wambach among the inaugural class.


    The Rhinos have played their first three matches of the 2014 USL PRO season on the road. The Rhinos opened the season with a 3-1 loss to defending USL PRO champion Orlando City on April 5th. However, Rochester head coach Bob Lilley's young side have taken four out of their last six points. The Rhinos played to a 1-1 draw in Dayton against the Dutch Lions on April 11th before defeating the Chicago Fire Reserves 2-0 at Toyota Park this past Monday. The point haul could have been even better – Dayton scored its equalizer in the 94th minute.

    “It's a decent start with three consecutive games on the road not necessarily being ideal. ” Lilley said. “I think we've been beter every game, and we are maturing as a team. We've been getting more fluent on offense and more organized on defense. Charleston is a tough opener, but we are hoping to continue to make progress.”

    Lilley brought in 19 new faces during the off-season after Rochester missed the playoffs for the first time in the club's 18-year history last season. However, fourth-year midfielder JC Banks has had the biggest impact on the score sheet with two goals in the first three matches. Banks was a 2012 USL PRO First Team selection and won the Rhinos 2012 MVP award, but he suffered a ruptured ACL in August 2012 that required reconstructive surgery in September. After a 2013 Rhinos season that saw Banks continue to recover from his knee injury, he appears to be back in form at the start of the 2014 season. The 24 year-old midfielder already has 10 goals and 14 assists in his career.

    Sunday's opponent, the Charleston Battery won the USL PRO Championship in 2012, and the club has been one of the perennial powers in USL PRO since the league's formation in 2011. The club has finished in the top four in each of the league's first three seasons, and the Battery have finished in the top three each of the past two seasons. While Charleston sits in 12th place before the weekend, their 0-1-3 record is deceptive as they have had to play Orlando City and the Richmond Kickers in three of their first four matches.

    The Battery have the chance to pick up three points in Pittsburgh on Saturday night before visiting Rochester on Sunday afternoon. After formalizing their MLS affiliation with the Vancouver Whitecaps during the off-season, Charleston has no more than six Whitecaps players on loan. The MLS contingent includes former MLS SuperDraft number one overall selection Omar Salgado, Connecticut rookie Mamadou Diouf, and Jamaican Andre Lewis.

    “Charleston is very good defensively” said Lilley. “They are well organized, well coached, and very good on the counter attack. Charleston are one of the top teams year-in and year-out, but we're hoping to get three points at home on Sunday.”

    Tickets for the home opener as well as any other match on the Rhinos home schedule will be available by by calling (585) 454-KICK (5425), by visiting the MVP Health Care Box Office at Sahlen's Stadium, or by visiting Rochester Rhinos season tickets, flex packages and group ticket sales are also currently available.

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  • 04/28/14--09:12: Galaxy II Sweep Past Blues
  • USL PRO Game Report

    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    IRVINE, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy II got goals by Rafael Garcia, Travis Bowen and Gyasi Zardes as they claimed a 3-0 victory against the Orange County Blues at Anteater Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The victory moved the Galaxy II back into a tie with Orlando City at the top of the USL PRO standings as they handed the Blues their heaviest defeat of the season.

    The first half-hour was evenly played, but the tide turned in the 33rd minute when Rauwshan McKenzie conceded a free kick right at the top of the penalty area. Garcia stepped up and curled a spectacular free kick over the wall and beyond the reach of Blues’ keeper Mohammad Mohammadi to give the Galaxy II the lead.

    From then on it was all Los Dos, who took the lion’s share of possession for the remainder of the first half, and then added to their lead in the 50th minute as Kyle Walker slid a pass through for Bowen, who had outwitted the offside trap. Bowen calmly stroked home his first goal of the season past the advancing Mohammadi.

    Zardes completed the rout in the 65th minute. After the Galaxy II won possession in their own half, a quick pass upfield allowed Zardes to turn and run at the Blues defense, which kept backing off. The second-year man took the space and fired the ball into the bottom-right corner of Mohammadi’s net.

    The Blues’ misery was compounded in the 76th minute as right back Mershad Momeni was shown his second yellow card, which reduced Orange County to 10 men. The Galaxy II looked to add to their lead late on, but settled for a comfortable victory, their third against their crosstown rival this season.

    The Blues will next head to face Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night at Hughes Stadium at 7:30 p.m. PT. The Galaxy II will return to the StubHub Center on Monday, May 5 as they host the Charlotte Eagles at  7:30 p.m. PT.

    Orange County returns home on May 8th to face last seasons runners up, the Charlotte Eagles. For best pricing on seat packages, call (714) 738-8011, email, visit, or hashtag #myocblues for more information.

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  • 04/28/14--09:32: Highlanders Split Scrimmages
  • Victoria Highlanders FC News Release --

    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    PORT ANGELES, Wash. – The Victoria Highlanders travelled to Port Angeles, Wash. on Saturday to compete in the 2014 Rumble in the Rainforest, hosted by Peninsula College. The first game of the day ended in a 2-0 loss to the University of Washington while the offense clicked in a 5-2 victory over Oregon IPS.

    Returning Highlander Elliot Mitrou made the start in net in both games, with Brandon Watson providing relief in the second half of the opening match. Goals in the 5-2 victory came from recent signings Carlo Basso and Ian Greedy, who finished with three and two goals, respectively.

    Saturday’s opening match saw the Highlanders attempting to find their rhythm as they fell victim to several turnovers that allowed the Huskies side to continually regain possession. The Highlanders began to settle play before UW’s Darwin Jones put his side up 1-0 at the 20-minute-mark of the half.

    Minutes later, Victoria’s Blair Sturrock received a long ball in the attacking zone, pushing inside the 18-yard box before firing it just right of the net. Teammate Cam Hundal followed up Sturrocks chance with a promising rush of his own, blowing past Washington defender Andy Thoma before eventually being taken off the ball. Hundal would later find teammate Basso inside six yards of the goal, but the six-foot-four striker was unable to put a finishing touch on his first opportunity of the day.

    The second half of play saw increased possession and pressure by the Highlanders, who played the ball neatly around the attacking zone, yet strong defense by the Huskies prevented any major chances directly on net.

    Perhaps the best opportunity to tie the match came off the foot of Greedy in the 80th minute of play—a hard blast on goal that was swallowed up by the Washington ‘keeper.

    A miscue in the Highlanders defensive zone in the dying minutes of the second half resulted in the Huskies second goal of the game, a lead they would hold through to the final whistle.

    “We knew UW was going to bring their best team today,” said Highlanders head coach Steve Simonson. “They are a very good team, they are strong and fit and we dropped a goal early and we had to fight back. I thought we found some cohesion as the game went on. The first goal of that game was to get some cohesion against a good team and I think we started to find our feet.”

    Just under two hours later, Victoria returned to the pitch for their second match of the day in a 60-minute tilt against Oregon IPS. Two big saves from Mitrou in the opening ten minutes of play kept the game scoreless before Basso would net his first of the day, finishing a cross-pass from recent signing Dominic Colontonio with a header to the back of the net. Minutes later, Basso would again receive the ball inside the box, firing a blast to the back of the net to give the Highlanders a two-goal cushion.

    Oregon would cut the lead in half off a penalty kick, but they could not stop the Highlanders attack, as Greedy netted his first of the game off an Adam Ravenhill cross to restore the two-goal lead. Basso and Greedy would both find the back of the net again as the Highlanders rolled to a 5-2 victory to close out their day.

    “The second game was a different look and different message,” added Simonson. “The first game we asked them to figure out the passing shapes, we didn’t really create any attack. The second game I said lets go for it and really try to stress the back four and get in behind and it was a completely different outcome in terms of goals and goal chances.”

    The Highlanders Youth Academy was also out in full force, competing in several of their own matches at Peninsula College while also attending and supporting the men’s first team in their opening match of the day.

    The Highlanders begin their quest towards their first PDL championship in one week, May 4 against the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park. For more information on the Highlanders organization, please visit

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    Sounders Women News Release -

    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    BOTHELL, Wash. – The Sounders Women scored their first two preseason goals for a 2-1 victory against Washington State University Sunday. The match was a special exhibition match at Pop Keeney Stadium in partnership with FC Alliance.

    The Sounders Women opened the scoring with late first half and early second half goals, only to be kept on their toes when WSU scored in the 74th minute. The Sounders held on for the win.

    After a good half hour for Washington State, the Sounders struck first in the 35th minute. The Sounders earned a corner kick which was flighted in by Laura Rayfield toward the back post and met by Nicole Stewart for the first goal of the season. Stewart, who subbed in a couple minutes prior, rose higher than her mark to head the ball home.

    In the 41st minute Sounders goalkeeper Jamie Arturs held the lead with an excellent save. The Cougars set up a free kick from the top of the penalty box and Kailiana Johnson drilled a shot on frame. Arturs quickly raised a palm to touch it over.

    Stewart nearly added a second goal a few minutes later when a long diagonal ball from Olivia Mackey found Stewart rin stride, but she volleyed just wide.

    The second half was the first chance for Sounders fans to see newly signed Brittany Baxter in a goal scoring position. She timed a run to get behind the defense for a breakaway. Her shot was saved by Alexis Thode and produced a foot race between Kennya Cordner and the Cougars' goalkeeper. They arrived at the same time, rolling the ball over for a corner.

    The Washington State goalkeeper was again in action in the 53rd minute as she cut down the angle to save Cordner’s shot from close range.

    The lead was made comfortable in the 64th minute by Stewart and Cordner. Stewart picked the ball up at the mid-line and struck a firm through-ball behind the Cougars defense. The ball held up in the wind perfectly for Cordner to beat the charging WSU keeper. Momentum took Cordner around the keeper and she tucked the ball home from the edge of the box.

    The final 15 minutes were ensured to be exciting when the Cougars cut the deficit in half in the 74th minute. After extended action in the WSU attacking third, Kailiana Johnson touched the ball over to Kaitlyn Johnson, who shot well into the far corner.

    The Cougars were inches from evening the score in the 77th minute as a shot from Kaitlyn Johnson was nearly a perfect pass to the far post, but Cara Wegner’s slide to poke it home was an instant too late.

    The Sounders Women's next exhibition is slated for Friday, May 9 against Western Washington. The match will be held as the first half of a doubleheader, to be followed by the Sounders U-23 vs. Bellingham United men’s teams.

    The next home match is May 16 against longtime rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps. For tickets and details, see  

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    USL PRO Game Report

    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Rhinos opened their 19th season in upstate New York with a 1-0 victory against the Charleston Battery on Sunday afternoon in front of 6,385 fans at Sahlen's Stadium. JC Banks scored the only goal of the match in the first half, while rookie goalkeeper John McCarthy recorded his second consecutive shutout as the Rhinos moved into fifth place in the USL PRO table.

    The only goal of the game arrived in the 19th minute as Rhinos midfielder Lance Rozeboom received a short pass in the middle of the pitch from fellow holding midfielder Alec Sundly and played a 20-yard pass into the feet of target player Tyler Rosenlund at the top of the box. Rosenlund had his back to goal, but held off Charleston center back Taylor Mueller, and flicked the ball into the path of Banks,who took two touches before he fired past Charleston goalkeeper Eric Shannon and into the lower left-hand corner of the Battery goal.

    “Rosey was able to get into a pocket of space and receive the ball at his feet.” Banks said. “He flicked the ball onto me, and I was able to control it and put it in the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if the goalkeeper was able to see it, or if he was screened, but I felt like I struck it well.”

    The goal was Banks' third in four matches to start the 2014 USL PRO season. Banks is now tied for second in USL PRO in goals scored, and third in points. After a 2013 season that saw Banks limited by his rehabilitation, the fourth-year Rhino has returned to form after reconstructive surgery on his ACL in September 2012. In 2012 Banks was named First Team All-USL PRO, the Rhinos team MVP, and USL PRO assist leader with five goals and eight assists.

    The Battery waited until stoppage time to get their first shot on goal of the match, but it was an effort that could have easily been the equalizer. Maikel Chang played a corner kick into the far post in the 92nd minute and Battery captain Colin Falvey got on the end of the service and directed a header on goal from inside the six yard box. Falvey's header was powerful enough to beat Rhinos goalkeeper John McCarthy, but Rhinos right back Pat McMahon worked in behind the goalkeeper to cover for him, and was able to clear his header up over the crossbar to save all three points for the home side. The clean sheet was McCarthy's second in as many starts after a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire Reserves on Monday. 

    The Rochester Rhinos return to action next weekend with a back-to-back road trip to Richmond and Wilmington. The Rhinos will visit the Richmond Kickers on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET at City Stadium. Rochester will visit the Wilmington Hammerheads on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.  ET at Legion Stadium. Both matches can be seen live in their entirety on YouTube Live.

    The Rochester Rhinos next home match is on Saturday, May 10th at 7 p.m. ET against the defending USL PRO champion Orlando City. Tickets for any match on the Rhinos home schedule will be available by by calling (585) 454-KICK (5425), by visiting the MVP Health Care Box Office at Sahlen's Stadium, or by visiting Rochester Rhinos season tickets, flex packages and group ticket sales are also currently available.

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    LA Blues News Release -

    Monday, April 28, 2014

    LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The LA Blues are excited to announce that they have signed UNC Tar Heels Brooke Elby and Paige Nielsen ahead of the 2014 W-League season, set to begin on May 16.

    Elby, from Arcadia, Calif., was a standout on the Strikers team that reached the Western Conference Championship in 2013. At UNC she has totaled three goals and six assists for the Tar Heels and has one NCAA Championship, achieved in 2012.

    “I am so excited to be coming back out to California to play this summer with the LA Blues," Elby said. "Last year I had the time of my life with the Strikers and cannot wait to have another summer with some of those girls and some new faces.”

    Elby commented on the chance to be a part of the program that many former Tar Heels have played on.

    “Playing under Tracey [Kevins] was a great new experience where I learned and developed tremendously as a player. I'm excited to work with her again, with Charlie [Naimo], and all of the other Blues staff because I've heard such great things from past UNC players and I'm excited to see for myself. I'm most eager about seeing where this program will go with these two amazing programs [LA Strikers and Pali Blues] joining together and getting out on the field.”

    “I am excited to once again be working with Brooke,” Blues Technical Director Kevins said. “Her tough tackling and her ability to break up opposition attacks made her a key component of the Strikers last season and I'm sure she will add some steel to our midfield this season.” 

    Nielsen, from Lincoln Nebraska, is also a midfielder for the Tar Heels. She finished the 2013 season fourth on the team with six goals and four assists, and was another member of the championship team in 2012.

    “I am very excited and thankful to become a part of such a competitive team,” Nielsen said. “I hope we can put in the work and hopefully I can contribute in winning another championship.”

    “Paige is another excellent addition from a long line of UNC players to play for the Blues,” Kevins said. “Paige offers us versatility with her ability to play in both midfield and in the forward line. I am very excited to work with her and to continue her soccer development.”

    The LA Blues will begin their 2014 W-League campaign on May 16 on the road against the Sedona FC Strikers. They will open at home against them the following week on Friday, May 23, at Occidental College’s Patterson Field at 7:30 p.m. PT. Fans can purchase tickets and get more information at

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    USL News Release

    Monday, April 28, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The PDL’s South Carolina United FC Bantams will host a free grassroots youth soccer clinic on May 31 in conjunction with United Soccer Leagues and the National Guard.

    The clinic will be held at the BB&T Soccer Complex in Columbia, S.C. and will be free to all registered participants and designed to benefit boys and girls youth soccer players ages 15-18. The training sessions will be led by Bantams coaches and players, and are designed to introduce, sharpen, and challenge every player and take them to the next level of their development.

    “We are excited that the National Guard is supporting tomorrow’s leaders through programs like this clinic,” Bantams General Manager George Sasvari said. “Space will be limited so we hope everyone registers early to reserve their spot for this unique event.”

    National Guard soccer camps and clinics bring quality training to local communities at no cost to the player. With opportunities to take instruction from top club and collegiate coaches, the Guard soccer events provide an outlet for players to get a leg up on the recruitment process.

    Check-in for all registered participants will take place from 8:15-9 a.m. with a technical training session (passing and receiving) kicking off at 9:15 following a short warm-up session. Parents will enjoy a National Guard presentation during the technical training, and players will move to tactical training from 10-10:45 a.m.

    Following small-sided games the participants will enjoy lunch and a National Guard presentation, with the afternoon featuring more training (combination play; shooting; finishing) before a mini-tournament concludes the event at 4:10 p.m.

    USL and the National Guard have teamed for the second consecutive year to offer a series of free development clinics for youth soccer players throughout the nation. The clinic curriculum focuses on individual foot skills, technical drills, tactical practices, small-sided games and coached scrimmages, all presented in a fun, positive learning environment.

    Interested players of all skill levels can register for the free clinic by completing the online registration form located at Space is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

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  • 04/29/14--11:48: USL Mourns Death Of Morris
  • USL News Release

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer Leagues was deeply saddened to hear of the death of former Indiana Blast and Indiana Blaze owner Alex Morris, who passed away on Saturday after a battle with colon cancer.

    “We are all greatly disappointed to hear of Alex’s death,” USL President Tim Holt said. “Alex was one of the great characters in USL history, and the Morris family did an outstanding job of bringing a high level of men’s and women’s soccer to Indianapolis. We send our condolences to his family, and all of the friends that he made over a full and rich life.”

    Morris founded both the Blast and the Blaze in 1997, with the Blast beginning in the D-3 Pro League before the club joined the A-League in 1999 after having claimed the North Central Division title in 1998. The Blaze, meanwhile, claimed a pair of W-League 2 Midwest Division titles in 1999 and 2000, with Joy Aschenbrener being named the league MVP in 1999.

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    USL PRO Feature

    Monday, April 28, 2014

    At its launch, Sacramento Republic FC’s motto was ‘On The Map, 2016’, a nod to the club’s aspirations to join the five teams to make the move from USL professional leagues to Major League Soccer.

    The club’s inaugural home opener on Saturday night, which drew a USL PRO regular-season record 20,231 fans to Hughes Stadium, certainly put the club on the map in the eyes of local and national media.

    “The opener was quite the spectacle. No question,” Sacramento Bee columnist Ailene Voisin wrote. “With a bed of blue and white clouds hovering in the background, 20,231 soccer enthusiasts squeezed into a facility that normally enjoys this amount of activity only on the holiest of nights.”

    Republic FC has reported season-ticket sales for its inaugural season of more than 5,500 fans, which certainly would project to more sellout crowds when the club moves into its permanent home at the 8,000-seat Bonney Field. While the final score didn’t go Sacramento’s way, Harrisburg played spoiler with a 2-1 victory, the enthusiasm of the Tower Bridge Battalion wasn’t dampened, a sign of a bright future for the club both this season and beyond.

    "To get 20,000 people out here is incredible," forward Adam Jahn, who grew up in Sacramento County and scored Republic FC’s goal on Saturday night, told ABC News 10. "It just shows the following in Sacramento and it's going to be really exciting going forward."

    And as it turned out, local and national media weren’t the only ones paying attention.

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    USL PRO News Release 

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO named its Team of the Week for Week 6 of the 2014 season on Tuesday and Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino was named Player of the Week after he scored three goals in two games as the Lions took a pair of victories on the road.

    Molino, the 2012 USL PRO Most Valuable Player, scored twice as the Lions took a 3-2 victory against the FC Dallas Reserves last Tuesday night. After fellow Team of the Week selection Adama Mbengue opened the scoring, Molino added his side’s second with a good near-post finish from a cross from the left. Molino added a second which proved to be the game-winner soon after Dallas had cut the Lions’ lead in half.

    Molino also scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Lions’ win on Saturday night, with his finish from an acute angle after he had rounded OKC Energy FC goalkeeper Jon Kempin the Lions’ second in a 2-1 victory.

    In addition to Molino and Mbengue, Harrisburg’s Matt Bahner and Arizona’s Paolo DelPiccolo earned selection to the Team of the Week midfield. Bahner played a key role for the City Islanders as they took a 2-1 win against Sacramento on Saturday, holding possession well before he switched to center back for the final 20 minutes following an injury and helped his side hold onto victory.

    DelPiccolo, meanwhile, scored his first professional goal to earn United a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy II Friday night. The former River City Rovers player finished well after a good buildup to tie the game with just over 20 minutes to play.

    The Team of the Week’s attack is led by Richmond’s Matt Delicâte, who had a pair of goals in his side’s 5-1 victory against Dayton. Orange County’s Christopher Santana also had a pair of goals in his professional debut as the Blues took victory against Harrisburg Thursday, while Rochester’s JC Banks earned selection after he scored in each of the Rhinos’ two wins last week.

    Banks was joined on the Team of the Week by rookie goalkeeper John McCarthy, who recorded his first two shutouts as the Rhinos defeated the Chicago Fire Reserves and Charleston Battery. A standout for Reading United and the Ocean City Nor’easters in the PDL, McCarthy was excellent as the Rhinos moved into fifth place in the USL PRO standings.

    The LA Galaxy II’s Rafael Garcia led a trio of defenders selected as he scored an outstanding free kick goal and helped control Orange County’s attack in a 3-0 victory on Sunday. He was joined by Charlotte’s J.J. Greer, who was central to the Eagles’ 2-0 shutout of the Wilmington Hammerheads on Saturday, and William Yomby, who led from the back in Richmond’s win against Dayton.

    The 2014 USL PRO season continues on Friday night as the Richmond Kickers host the Rochester Rhinos at 7 p.m. ET, with both teams looking to build on positive results this past weekend. Also on Friday, the Harrisburg City Islanders host the Charleston Battery at 7 p.m. ET with the Battery still looking for their first win of the season.

    Saturday night brings a pair of intriguing west-coast contests as Arizona United SC hosts the Charlotte Eagles at 10 p.m. ET and Sacramento Republic FC hosts the Orange County Blues FC at 10:30 p.m. ET. The weekend concludes with a rematch between Orlando City and OKC Energy FC at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.

    Every game of the 2014 USL PRO season can be seen live on YouTube, with live updates also available via Twitter (@USLPRO), Facebook and Google+. Stay up to date with news, previews and match reports from throughout the league via

    USL PRO Team of the Week





















    Honorable Mention – Arizona: Evan Newton, Brandon Swartzendruber; Charleston: Odisnel Cooper, Zach Prince; Charlotte: Jorge Herrera, Brock Duckworth; Dayton: Jesjua Cruyff, Shintaro Harada; Harrisburg: Robbie Derschang, Morgan Langley; LA Galaxy II: Travis Bowen, Alejandro Covarrubias; Oklahoma City: Steven Perry, Cyprian Hedrick; Orange County: Chris Cortez, Rauwshaun McKenzie; Orlando: Dennis Chin, Yordany Alvarez; Pittsburgh: Michael Lisch, Anthony Obodai; Richmond: Shay Spitz, George Davis IV; Rochester: Minh Vu, Pat McMahon; Sacramento: Adam Jahn, Max Alvarez; Wilmington: Ashani Fairclough, Tom Parratt.

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    PDL Feature

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The biggest conference in the PDL, the Eastern Conference has seen realignment this season with new additions to the Northeast and Mid Atlantic Divisions. The Ocean City Nor’easters return as defending conference champions, while eight of the conference’s teams will compete in this season’s U.S. Open Cup.

    Photo courtesy Glenn RiegellNORTHEAST DIVISION

    CFC Azul – After finishing with a winning record in their inaugural season, the Azul slid down the division standings in 2013. The side was competitive throughout the season and finished with a division-high six draws, but returning coach David Kelly will look for a bounce-back season and chance at the club’s first playoff berth.

    GPS Portland Phoenix – The Phoenix earned a third consecutive playoff berth in 2013 and will return to the Open Cup for a second consecutive year with another solid squad. Coach Ally Bain’s focus will be set on reclaiming the division crown against some strong returning and new clubs to the division, and will have returning All-Conference defender Gilbert Manier to build around at the back.

    Montreal Impact U23 – A new addition to the league, the Impact U23 is in fact the club’s U21 side and includes a number of top young Canadian prospects. Among them is U20 international Anthony Jackson Hamel, who competed at last year’s CONCACAF U20 Championships, and he will be backed by a squad that could immediately contend for the division title.

    Real Boston Rams – The official PDL affiliate of the New England Revolution, the Rams will aim to make a jump forward in their second season under new head coach Hobie Hare. A key figure in this will be Providence goalkeeper Keasel Broome, while Cole DeNormandie starred for the Crew Juniors Super-20 side as it claimed the league championship in 2012.

    Seacoast United Phantoms – After a winless 2013 the Phantoms will try to rebound with the major focus for Coach Ian Scott set to be a restoration of scoring punch to a side that had just two goals last season. Former New Hampshire standout Bradley Hilton, a two-time America East All-Conference selection, will bring important experience to the side.

    Vermont Voltage – Vermont had a strong second half to the 2013 season which propelled it into third place in the division and an Open Cup berth this season. Bo Vuckovic will hope his side can build on its success and claim a playoff berth for the first time since the 2003 season.

    Westchester Flames – A newcomer to the Northeast from the Mid Atlantic Division, the Flames hope a new division brings greater success than in recent seasons. Holdovers from last season’s squad include Zach Gosse and Richard Heredia, who had a pair of goals, but Coach Gus Skoufis will look for some new faces to step up and help the Flames make a move up the standings.

    Western Mass Pioneers – Consistently a solid side in the division, the Pioneers will try to break through and earn the first playoff berth in team history this season as Coach Federico Molinari returns to lead the side. The Pioneers have some solid players to call upon including goalkeeper Warren Gross and forward Alencar Junior, and certainly should challenge for a postseason berth.


    Baltimore Bohemians – After reaching the playoffs in their second season the Bohemians will have to cope without Coach Steve Nicholls and All-Conference selections Pete Caringi and Hugh Roberts, both now in USL PRO’s ranks. New coach Santino Quaranta will bring a wealth of knowledge to the side, however, and returnees such as Mamadou Kansaye and Matt Shinsky will try to help the side pick up where it left off.

    F.A. Euro – F.A. Euro took a sixth-place finish in its inaugural season but will need to improve if it is to emulate the Bohemians’ breakout season of a year ago. Again led by Joe Balsamo, an early-season schedule that includes Ocean City, Reading and Baltimore will tell the story as to whether the jump into becoming a playoff contender will happen this season.

    Jersey Express – The Express have been a perennial power in the Mid Atlantic, but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009 last summer as they were edged out on tiebreakers by Baltimore and Reading. Head coach Jeff Matteo will be eager to return his side to the postseason, and conduct a strong run in the U.S. Open Cup, and he will again have a strong squad to pull from with returnees Joe Ovenseri and Chris Karcz, who finished tied for a team-high with six goals, set to lead the way.

    Long Island Rough Riders – The Rough Riders were in contention for the playoffs with four games to play last season, but four consecutive defeats to the teams that finished above them in the standings put paid to their hopes. A solid squad returns including the side’s three leading scorers from a season ago in Tyler Botte, Dominick Sarle and Stephen Roche, as Long Island looks to contend again.

    NJ LUSO Parma – Formerly the NJ LUSO Rangers, Carlos Rasolio’s side took a step back in 2013 after having a franchise-best 27 points in 2012. The side will feature some new faces in attack this season, but Yusuf Hamza is back to lead the midfield after appearing in all 14 games a season ago, as is defender Pedro Vilar.

    Northern Virginia Royals – After finishing third in the South Atlantic Division a season ago the Royals move into the Mid Atlantic looking to make an immediate impact. Leading scorer Franck Tayou is set to return to the side after eight goals last season while the side is headed again by Richie Burke, who returns for his second stint in charge. Burke led the Royals to the postseason in 2011, and will hope for more success this season.

    Ocean City Nor’easters – The defending division and conference champions, Ocean City has a number of key players returning to its ranks including All-Conference selection Dwayne Reid and Frank Tweneboa. Another key player set to suit up for the side this season is Jason Plumhoff, who claimed All-Conference honors a season ago for Reading United, which will make the Nor’easters formidable one again.

    Reading United AC – A playoff participant for the past six seasons, Reading will have David Castellanos at the helm as he takes over as head coach from Brendan Burke. United should remain a strong contender, even with some key losses to the pro ranks, with Philadelphia Union Academy players Darius Madison and Shane Campbell both back for their second seasons, and other veterans such as goalkeeper Alex Bono, midfielder Manolo Sanchez and South Florida duo Lucas Baldin and Wesley Charpie all set to return.


    Carolina Dynamo – The defending division champions, Carolina will look to adjust to the appointment of Steve Diamond as the club’s head coach just prior to the  season after Chris Little, an offseason appointment, chose to take the head coaching position at Elon University. Diamond will have a strong squad at his disposal with Boyd Okwuono, Mamadee Nyepon and All-Conference selection Brandt Bronico all returning as the Dynamo look to replicate their run to the 2012 PDL Championship Game.

    Cincinnati Dutch Lions – A newcomer to the league, the Dutch Lions will aim to emulate the success of their USL PRO partner in Dayton. Set to be coached by Terry Nicholl and Alan Grothaus, Cincinnati will include Rowin van Zaanen, a veteran forward with Eredivisie experience in Holland, and will also look to bring some of the top local players as it looks to hit the ground running.

    River City Rovers – A newcomer to the division from the Central Conference, River City will try to bounce back under new coach Tyrone Marshall. The former Jamaican international and MLS All-Star will have a solid roster at his disposal, including returnee Dylan Terry, who had five goals and three assists a season ago to lead the side.

    SC United Bantams – The Bantams and Coach Gary Winchester will look to make a move up the standings after finishing fifth in a congested battle in the middle of the division last season. The Bantams were in contention at the midway point last season, but only four points in their last seven games left them looking for better this summer.

    Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors – Entering their third season, the King’s Warriors will be hoping for a breakthrough after struggling in the second half of 2013. Forward Billy Forbes returns to Scott Reitnour’s squad after scoring seven goals and adding three assists a season ago, and he will be joined by a contingent of players from NCAA Division III champions Messiah College, all of whom will be looking to shine on a bigger stage.

    West Virginia Chaos – After a pair of winning seasons that saw the side just miss out on the playoffs, the Chaos took a step back in 2013 as they recorded their lowest points total since 2008. The side will look to rebound this summer with Dion Peters back on the squad after recording four goals with the Michigan Bucks last season. Peters led the Chaos with seven goals in 2012 and will be a key figure for the side this season.

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    Sounders FC U-23 News Release --

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    TACOMA, Wash. – The Sounders U-23 have signed one of the brightest Sounders Academy stars, Jordan Morris, for the 2014 Premier Development League season. Morris is currently a sophomore at the University of Stanford and holds caps for the United States U-20 and U-21 National Teams.

    Morris, a sophomore at Stanford, burst on to the national soccer awareness after scoring 27 goals in 28 matches for the Sounders Academy and being named the U-17/18 US Soccer Development Academy Player of the Year in 2013.

    “Jordan Morris is an exciting young player and he seems to excel at every level he gets the opportunity to play at," Sounders U-23 GM and Head Coach, Darren Sawatzky said. "The U-23 team is a great place for him to continue his rise in the game during the summer months.”

    Morris went on to make First Team All-Pac 12 as a freshman and earn call-ups to the United States U-20 and last week, U-21 National Team. His ability, technique, and vision, mixed with his 5’11, 185 pound frame, make Morris a truly unique prospect with professional soccer on his horizon.

    “The competitive games in the Northwest Division of the PDL has helped many players in their journey to become professional players and it will be the same for Jordan,” Sawatzky said. 

    The Seattle native scored six goals last fall for Stanford and led all freshmen in the Pac-12 with seven assists. Morris will join the Sounders U-23 following the spring semester at Stanford.

    The Sounders U-23 will host their first preseason game against Western Washington at 7p.m. on May 5 at Sunset Stadium. 

    Season Tickets for the 2014 Sounders U-23 season are on sale on for only $60. The 2014 Season Ticket Flex Pack eliminates the risk of missing games. Instead of one ticket specifically associated with each match, with the Sounders U-23 Flex Pack, fans will receive eight tickets, and each of those tickets will be accepted at any match during the 2014 season. It's the ultimate deal in flexibility.

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  • 04/30/14--12:12: SC United Purchases Bantams
  • SC United Bantams News Release --

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina United FC is pleased to announce it has purchased the franchise rights to PDL team Palmetto FC, formerly based in Greenwood, S.C.

    The PDL is a pre-professional league, which provides elite amateur players the ability to train and compete at the highest level while maintaining collegiate eligibility. Competing in the PDL’s South Atlantic Division, the SC United Bantams will seek a top-two finish to earn a place in the PDL playoffs this season, and also give the club the opportunity to qualify for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2015.

    The overall mission of franchise will be to provide South Carolina-based college players and those native to South Carolina’s youth soccer system a platform for developing their craft for the professional level.  The team will play seven league matches and two Exhibition matches at stadium venues throughout the Midlands, including three at USC’s Stone Stadium. The team’s road matches will see the club visit clubs such as the River City Rovers, Cincinnati Dutch Lions, Carolina Dynamo, West Virginia Chaos and Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors this summer.

    United’s home schedule begins on May 23 as it hosts the Chaos at WC Hawkins Stadium at 7 p.m. ET. The 2014 PDL Championship is scheduled for August 3 at a site to be determined.

    “We are excited about being part of the next step as players grow from youth to amateur and eventually to the professional ranks” said Ron Tryon, CEO of South Carolina United FC. “We look forward to making our “Famously Hot” city even more enjoyable for families and fans who love sports by bridging the gap between the Gamecocks’ last pitch on the diamond and first kickoffs at Williams Bryce and Stone stadiums.”

    Gary Winchester will return in his second season as Bantams Head Coach. 

    “As the head coach, I want to develop the principles that were set since our inaugural season and continue to develop the players showcasing their talents and pushing them to win in the right way,” said Winchester.

    The Bantams will introduce themselves through their “one community” theme by playing home games at several local venues. 

    “Greater Columbia and our local communities provide us the chance to showcase homegrown players and those competing at the college level in South Carolina,” said General Manager, George Sasvari.  “Come out and meet the Bantams and the future pros at a stadium near you as part of our introduction to Columbia during our ‘Q93.5 One Community’ Tour.”

    The Graveyard (USC) will serve as the regular home venue while the Bantams also are scheduled to visit Lexington and Spring Valley for home stops on The Bantams “Q93.5 One Community” Tour.

    Tickets are on sale at

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    Albuquerque Sol News Release --

    Monday April 28th, 2014

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Albuquerque Sol have announced that five players from the Colorado Rapids Youth Development system will join the team this summer.  The players, who are part of the Colorado Rapids Homegrown program, are all finishing their freshmen year in college and will join training camp in Albuquerque upon completion of their finals.

    Photo courtesy ColoradoRapids.comAlbuquerque Sol FC head coach Chris Cartlidge is thrilled with the relationship and the five additions to the squad.

    "The Colorado Rapids are committed to developing talented young players and helping them along a pathway to their first team," said Cartlidge. "These five guys are not only talented players, they are also young men committed to working towards a career in the game and understand the maturity and dedication it takes. They are the great additions to our roster.”

    “We have spent a significant amount of time with the staff and administration of the Sol.  We feel that this is the best situation for these players to receive the training and competition needed to progress at this point in their careers,” said Brian Crookham, Sr. Director of Youth Development for the Colorado Rapids. “Albuquerque has always been a market that has supported soccer and we are excited about the opportunity to work closely with a first class organization like the Sol.”

    Chris Gurule - University of New Mexico
    Thrust into the starting lineup due to injuries in middle of Conference USA play, Gurule finished the season with seven appearances, five of them as a starter. Gurule logged 435 minutes in his seven appearances, after having competed for the Colorado Rush of the USSF Developmental Academy prior to joining the Lobos.

    Ricardo Perez - Creighton University
    Perez previously played for the Colorado Rapids Reserves, beginning in 2011 when he made his debut at age 15. The captain of the Rapids’ U-18 team in final his two seasons before arriving at Creighton, Perez was ranked the No. 19 player in the latest TopDrawerSoccer Boys IMG Academy 150 entering the 2013 season.

    Bryan Windsor - Princeton University
    Windsor spent time in both the U.S. and Swiss youth national team systems, where he trained with the U15 U.S. National Team and with the U16 Swiss National Team. Windsor also trained with the youth team of the professional club Grasshoppers from Zurich, and has most recently been training and playing games with the Colorado Rapids Reserve team.

    Alex Bramman - St. Marys University
    Bramman was one of just three players to start all 20 matches during the Gaels' season (along with his brother, Ben, and Bobby Conner), and earned honorable mention All-West Coast Conference honors. In addition he was named to WCC All-Freshman team after he led the team in scoring with 11 points and goals with five.

    Ben Bramman - St Marys University
    Like his brother, Bramman started all 20 matches during the season, and led the Gaels in minutes (1,927). He recorded two assists on the season, one each against LIU Brooklyn and San Diego, and his assist against the Toreros was to his brother which tied the game in the 87th minute. 

    Season tickets for the Sol's inaugural season are also still available but seating is limited. Fans can purchase a basic package for just $89 that includes 7 PDL games and three friendly matches and an inter-squad scrimmage match on May 17th at St Pius X High School. Individual game tickets are $10 and are available online at

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    PDL Feature

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    TAMPA, Fla. – The PDL's Central Conference has been the domain of a handful of sides in the past few seasons, with Thunder Bay emerging last season from a tough conference championship weekend against 2012 champion FC London and perennial contender the Michigan Bucks. With a new season comes new alignment, however, and potential new challengers for the playoff positions.


    Chicago Fire U-23 – The Fire’s development model, utilizing the club’s Super-20 and PDL teams to keep players within its system after they graduate the club’s academy, is paying dividends this season with Harry Shipp. The side should see some solid returnees this summer, with Chris Prince and Felipe Cortez potential leaders for Mark Spooner’s squad.

    FC London – The defending division champions fell to Thunder Bay in last season’s conference championship game, but return a strong squad that will be aiming for a fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs. One player to watch, however, will be James Pucci, who scored 10 goals for the West Virginia Chaos a season ago, and will be relied upon to provide scoring punch.

    K-W United – United missed out on a playoff place via tiebreakers last season, but with Stuart Neely newly introduced to replace the departed Brett Mosen as head coach, the side will be aiming for more this summer. Jay Chapman returns to the side to lead the defense, and may add to this three goals and two assists offensively, while both Nathan Ingham and Darrin Macleod return to form a strong goalkeeping tandem.

    Michigan Bucks – After claiming three consecutive division titles, the Bucks were knocked from top spot by FC London a season ago. The club will be eager to return to the top of the tree, but Coach Demir Muftari will have to rebuild a squad that will be absent players such as Matt Walker and Kevin Cope, both of whom joined the professional ranks this season.

    Pittsburgh Riverhounds U-23 – The lone newcomer to the division, the Riverhounds U-23 will try to make an impact in their first season in the league. Set to play at Highmark Stadium alongside the club’s USL PRO team, the U-23 side promises to offer a bridge for former members of the club’s youth academy to compete at a higher level.

    Toronto Lynx – The Lynx came close to their first playoff appearance since 2008, only to fall in their final game of the season to K-W United. Duncan Wilde has boosted his squad for this season, however, with two key players from K-W arriving in Toronto this season in Liam Collins and William Grocott. Another to keep an eye on will be Mario Pinto Neto, who played a big role for Reading United last season.


    Chicago Inferno – The Inferno make the jump to the Heartland Division with some solid new additions to their roster, including the duo of goalkeeper Reece Richardson and forward Martin Lange, both of whom arrive from FC London. Gordy Gurson also returns after impressive workouts at the USL PRO Combine in January, and will be looking for a big season to boost his professional chances.

    Des Moines Menace – The Menace will be aiming for a return to the playoffs after a two-year absence, and will have a strong chance to get there should they improve in attack after scoring 19 goals in 14 games a season ago. Nico Wright (3 goals) led the side last season, and returns alongside Brandon Fricke, while former Portland Timbers U-23s All-Conference goalkeeper David Meves appears set to start between the sticks.

    Springfield Demize – With a new head coach in Ian Henry, the Demize have built what appears to be a solid roster as they aim for a first-ever berth in the postseason. Among the players joining the side this season are former New England Revolution man Brandon Manzonelli, while Eric Martin returns after leading the Demize with six goals last season.

    St. Louis Lions – The Lions finished with their best point total since 2010 last season, and will be aiming to keep moving up the standings as Tony Glavin’s squad returns leading scorer Vadim Cojocov. The question will be whether the Lions can tighten up defensively, having conceded 28 goals in 14 games a season ago.

    Thunder Bay Chill – The defending conference champions, who claimed their third PDL Championships appearance in four seasons last summer, will have another strong squad as it looks to claim a fifth consecutive division title. Led by Tony Colistro, the Chill will be hopeful that Marquette’s Axel Sjoberg returns defensively after earning All-League honors a season ago.

    WSA Winnipeg – Eduardo Badescu’s side has shown glimpses of promise in its first two seasons, and will be looking to make a jump forward in year three. Last season’s leading scorer Moses Danto returns after eight goals last summer, but the key for Winnipeg will be to improve defensively and provide greater offensive support for Danto.

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