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Articles on this Page
- 06/28/14--09:20: _K-W United Downs Ri...
- 06/28/14--08:56: _Chaos Take Big Win ...
- 06/28/14--07:32: _Washington Claims C...
- 06/29/14--01:54: _Blues Rally To Take...
- 06/28/14--23:14: _Second-Half Goals E...
- 06/28/14--22:07: _Southeastern Clash ...
- 06/29/14--02:15: _Menace Edge Past Th...
- 06/28/14--22:46: _Hertzog Leads Lions...
- 06/29/14--13:05: _Laredo Hands Austin...
- 06/30/14--09:06: _Menace Claim Sweep ...
- 07/01/14--09:33: _Hammerheads Partner...
- 07/01/14--09:12: _Kickers To Host Mex...
- 07/01/14--09:12: _Heat Face Return Co...
- 07/01/14--09:11: _Dutch Lions Look To...
- 07/01/14--11:11: _Lions Make Landmark...
- 07/01/14--12:53: _Hertzog Named Playe...
- 07/02/14--09:56: _Big Second Half Lif...
- 07/02/14--09:28: _Austin Takes Victor...
- 07/02/14--09:03: _Kickers Earn Draw W...
- 07/02/14--11:32: _Pitman Finds Home A...
- 06/28/14--09:20: K-W United Downs Riverhounds U23
- 06/28/14--08:56: Chaos Take Big Win Against Dutch Lions
- 06/28/14--07:32: Washington Claims Conference Title
- 06/29/14--01:54: Blues Rally To Take Dramatic Victory
- 06/28/14--23:14: Second-Half Goals Earn Energy Victory
- 06/28/14--22:07: Southeastern Clash Finishes Even
- 06/29/14--02:15: Menace Edge Past Thunder Bay
- 06/28/14--22:46: Hertzog Leads Lions Past Galaxy II
- 06/29/14--13:05: Laredo Hands Austin First Defeat
- 06/30/14--09:06: Menace Claim Sweep Of Chill
- 07/01/14--09:33: Hammerheads Partner With Cape Fear
- 07/01/14--09:12: Kickers To Host Mexico U-21s
- 07/01/14--09:12: Heat Face Return Contest With Aztex
- 07/01/14--09:11: Dutch Lions Look To Build On Win
- 07/01/14--11:11: Lions Make Landmark Signing Of Kaka
- 07/01/14--12:53: Hertzog Named Player of the Week
- 07/02/14--09:56: Big Second Half Lifts Whitecaps U-23
- 07/02/14--09:28: Austin Takes Victory Against Laredo
- 07/02/14--09:03: Kickers Earn Draw With Mexico U-21s
- 07/02/14--11:32: Pitman Finds Home Across The Pond
PDL Game Report
Friday, June 27, 2014
WATERLOO, Ont. -- K-W United FC made a statement on Friday night as they defeated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 3-1 at University Stadium. In their last meeting against Pittsburgh, which was also their last home game, K-W got away with a 2-1 win and were certain not to do that again. With a season-high 20 shots and 13 shots in the first half, K-W got first-half goals by Stefan Vukovic and Jarek Whiteman to take control of the game early and claim all three points.
"It's a tough team to play against, Pittsburgh. In this league, anyone can beat anyone and they draw you in," head coach Stuart Neely said. "I'm happy with the boys and we came away with three points."
In the first, K-W came out flying. Nine minutes in, Vukovic sent a shot flying past Pittsburgh keeper Albert Civitarese to put United ahead.
The shots kept coming at Civitarese, and United put on the pressure. K-W's back for allowed two shots the entire first half against keeper Nathan Ingham. In the 24th minute, Jeff Addai fed Vukovic, who sent a brilliant pass to Whiteman, and he made no mistake as he beat Civitarese for a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, United had a few defensive lapses. Pittsburgh began to put on the pressure and became a regular presence in the attacking third. In the 63rd minute, Ingham misplayed a ball back to him and the Riverhounds' Bruce Cullen retrieved the loose ball to cut the lead in half.
But United wasn't giving up its home advantage, and Paris Bateman scored his first of the season on a strike from the 18-yard line to put K-W ahead 3-1.
With the Michigan Bucks losing to the Chicago Fire, K-W now joins the three-way race for first place in the Great Lakes Division. K-W will play the Fire on Sunday for a potential shot at first place, with a game in hand.
"Tonight was good, we're still making the same mistakes so we need to correct that. But the players are realizing that they are becoming quite the tight family. That's important for the club and that's important for the boys," Neely said.
PDL Game Report
Friday, June, 27 2014
CINCINNATI -- The West Virginia Chaos took a 3-1 victory on Friday night to hand the Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC their first loss of the season at the Xavier Soccer Complex. In a battle between the top two teams in the PDL's South Atlantic Division, the Chaos took an important victory to move five points clear at the top of the division.
The Dutch Lions came out on the front foot, and had several shots on goal in the first five minutes, but West Virginia’s goalkeeper Sean Teepen was up for the challenge and was able to withstand the pressure. The Dutch Lions continued to create opportunities in West Virginia’s end, frustrating the Chaos, but Teepen continued to come up big for the Chaos. Cincinnati's best chance of the half came midway through the half as Rowin van Zaanen crossed high across the penalty area to the waiting head of Jeff McClure, but the shot was blocked. Kyle Smith fired off a rocket at the Chaos goal as well, only to find a waiting Teepen.
Although the Lions had more chances in the first half, the Chaos would take the lead in the 44th minute when a quick transition from defense to offense gave the Chaos their opportunity. West Virginia’s Jake Szabo would find Nick McDonald down the right and as Dutch Lions goalkeeper Eric Osswald came out McDonald put the ball over him and into the back of the net for a 1-0 halftime lead.
Cincinnati pushed hard for an equalizer early in the second half as van Zaanen would cross the ball to Steven Meyers, who put a touch to the far post but again Teepen would make the grab. The Chaos would double their lead in the 50th minute, however, as a turnover by Cincinnati’s Jordan Grant led to another counter-attack for West Virginia. Daniel Stratford broke down the left, and a quick cross in front of the Lions goal found Szabo, who would place the ball in the far left corner of the Dutch Lions' goal.
Cincinnati continued to press, but the West Virginia defense and Teepen remained tight and did not allow the Dutch Lions offense to take advantage of any opportunities. Any mistakes by Cincinnati saw West Virginia transition quickly and the Dutch Lions were pushed back to their own end. Cincinnati would get back into the game with five minutes to go when Kevin Walker went down the right side and put a ball across the goal where Chris Harmon was on hand to head home to halve the deficit. West Virginia put the game away in stoppage time, though, as Dion Peters scored on a one-on-one with Osswald to wrap up all three points.
“It’s a huge disappointment to suffer this first loss," Cincinnati’s Coach Terry Nicholls said. "We created more chances in our first loss than we have in a few of our other games. We had a few days off and I think that might have affected us a little bit. Even though they played last night, they seemed to be taking advantage on the counter when we would press. You have to put your chances in, or else you are going to be more susceptible, because you push more men forward and they came back on us on the break.
I am not worried about the third goal because that was just us trying to get an equalizer at the end. The second goal after half time hurt me bad. I am going to be talking about that one because we missed a great chance on their end. We should have scored up there, but they ran down the other end and made it two to nothing. So instead of one to one it’s zero to two for them. That one was really, really frustrating. So far, the lads have done well and we have had a good season, but now it’s time to bounce back for our game on Sunday.”
The Dutch Lions will welcome the SC United Bantams to the Xavier Soccer Complex on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. For tickets and information go to www.cincinnatidutchlionsfc.com.
Washington Spirit Reserves News Release - www.washingtonspirit.com
Friday, June 27, 2014
ARLINGTON, Va. - The Washington Spirit Reserves became the first team to clinch a spot in the W-League post-season Friday, defeating the Long Island Rough Riders 3-0 to improve to 8-0-2 and earn the home-field advantage for the Northeastern Conference playoffs. First-half goals from forward Katie Yensen and midfielder Kelsey Pardue and a second-half tally from defender Maddie Huster gave Washington the victory against Long Island.
Despite Long Island bunkering down on defense, the Spirit Reserves maintained possession from the start. Washington finally capitalized in the 13th minute on a beautiful cross from defender Jen Skogerboe to the head of Yensen, who redirected the ball just past the outreached hand of Long Island goalkeeper Diana Poulin.
The Rough Riders rarely made it past the midfield line and when they did, the Spirit Reserves defense smothered any offensive attempts. After a flurry of near misses and a series of spectacular saves from Poulin, the Spirit Reserves finally were able to hit the back the net again in the 42nd minute. Washington forward Aaran Parry crossed the ball into the box and it rolled across the mouth of the goal past Yensen to the waiting feet of Pardue, who was able to tap it in past Poulin for a 2-0 Spirit Reserves lead entering the half.
The Rough Riders started the second half more aggressively and their best chance of the game came in the 49th minute when a hard shot by midfielder CJ Ludemann was saved by Adelaide Gay, who was shaken up on the play as she fought through a crowd to control the ball. Fortunately, she was able to continue.
Washington continued to keep Poulin busy as she faced several excellent chances. In the 67th minute, Washington defender Melissa Downey came on for Yensen and immediately forced Poulin to make a save to keep the score at 2-0. The Spirit continued to substitute fresh legs to keep the pressure on the Rough Rider defense. In the 72nd minute forward Lina Grenados came on and made a dangerous run that was thwarted by the Long Island defense.
Despite Long Island’s best efforts, the Spirit Reserves offense had another goal in it when Huster found herself with space and drove the ball into the upper right corner from 20 yards out to put her team up 3-0.
The Rough Riders had a chance in the 89th minute when second-half substitute midfielder Shelby Halasz launched a shot into the waiting arms of Gay. Washington continued to challenge Poulin well into the waning minutes of the game and into extra time, only stopping when the final whistle blew.
The Spirit Reserves’ next game will be Sunday June 29 away at the New Jersey Wildcats before they return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex on July 13th to face the North Jersey Valkyries at 4 p.m.
USL PRO Game Report
Saturday, June 28, 2014
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Three unanswered goals, including a stoppage-time winner in the 94th minute, propelled the Orange County Blues FC to a 3-2 victory over Arizona United SC on Saturday night at the Peoria Sports Complex.
Arizona United SC took a two-goal advantage in the first half on goals from Jon Okafor in the 19th minute and Kadeem Dacres in the 36th minute, but as Arizona United SC pushed for a third goal before the halftime break Orange County Blues FC countered in the 41st minute and drew a penalty after goalkeeper Evan Newton clipped Enrique Cardenas. Allan Russell stepped up to take the penalty, and calmly cut the lead in half.
Orange County Blues FC equalized in the 66th minute on a James Turner long ball that sailed over the Arizona United SC backline to an unmarked Josh Suggs, who chipped Newton inside the box.
Arizona United SC looked as if they took the lead back in the second minute of stoppage time on a Dacres header inside the box from Tyler Ruthven’s service, but Dacres was deemed offside.
The Blues completed the comeback in the fourth minute of stoppage time when a lofted ball over the Arizona United SC backline found a streaking Andrew Hoxie, who dribbled into the box, cut a defender, and finished into the far post.
The loss was Arizona United SC’s eighth on the season, and snapped a two-match undefeated streak at home.
Okafor’s goal was the first on the season for him, as Paolo DelPiccolo provided the assist on free kick from the left wing. Dacres’ goal was his second on the season, and was setup from a brilliant ball by London Woodberry, who split the Orange County Blues FC backline. Dacres dribbled into the box, and finished into the far post.
Arizona United SC will head out of the road for its next three-matches. Next match is July 4 against LA Galaxy II, before a road contest against Orange County Blues FC on July 12. Arizona United SC will wrap up the road trip against OKC Energy FC July 17, and will then return home to host Orange County Blues FC Jul7 19.
USL PRO Game Report
Saturday, June 28, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY – OKC Energy FC extended its unbeaten streak to six games with a 2-0 win against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night at Pribil Stadium in front of 3,643 fans.
Energy FC’s Mark Howard scored the decisive goal, netting his first of the season with a header off an Adda Djeziri corner kick in the 53rd minute of the match.
Moments before Howard’s goal, Sacramento missed its best chance of the match when Rodrigo Lopez took a shot from about 35 yards out that hit the crossbar and deflected off OKC keeper Jon Kempin’s back. Kempin quickly gathered the ball from less than a yard in front of the goal line to keep the match scoreless.
OKC added to its lead in the 68th minute after Energy FC’s Dan Delgado worked the ball up the pitch with a series of moves before passing to Steven Perry near the top of the penalty area. Perry then sent a quick pass to his right to Mikey Lopez, who blasted a shot to the high-left side of the net past Sacramento keeper Dominik Jakubek for a 2-0 advantage.
Samir Badr made his second appearance of the season, replacing Jon Kempin at the keeper position in the 77th minute of the match after Kempin suffered an injury attempting a save several minutes earlier.
Energy FC registered six total shots on the match with three on goal, while Sacramento managed just a single shot on goal on 10 total shots. OKC is 3-0-3 overall during its current six-game unbeaten streak, with all three victories coming at Pribil Stadium.
Energy FC is back in action Saturday, July 12, when it takes on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in a 7 p.m. CT start at Pribil Stadium.
Charlotte Lady Eagles News Release - www.charlotteeagles.com
Saturday, June 28, 2014
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte Lady Eagles and Carolina Elite Cobras stayed even atop the Southeastern Conference after the 1-1 draw on Saturday night. A late goal by Carolina Elite's India Trotter earned the Cobras a draw after Leah Fortune had given the Lady Eagles the first-half lead.
The teams remain tied for first atop the Southeastern Conference table with identical records of 4-1-3 and 15 points.
The Lady Eagles started off strong, keeping possession and getting a good number of opportunities. In the third minute Fortune had a good shot on goal but it went just wide of the post.
In the 24th minute Carolina Elite defender Savannah Coiner was called for a hand ball inside the box, leading to a penalty kick for Charlotte. Fortune took the PK and the shot went off the post, sliding behind Cobras goalkeeper Elizabeth Hull.
The first half continued with the Cobras outshooting the Lady Eagles 6-2, but Charlotte goalkeeper Robyn Jones stood tall and made a number of big saves to maintain the lead. In the 38th minute Trotter took a point-blank shot on the goal but Jones made a vital save to keep the Lady Eagles up heading into halftime.
The second half continued with the Lady Eagles getting a good number of shots and putting pressure on the Cobras. In the 71st minute, second half substitute Ashley Cox had a chance to put the Lady Eagles up 2-0, only to have her shot saved.
Carolina pushed hard for the equalizer and in the 84th minute Trotter was played in on a breakaway. Her shot beat Jones to the far post to even the score at 1-1.
The Lady Eagles play at home again next Saturday, July 5 in the second men’s and women’s doubleheader of the season, facing the Gulf Coast Texans at 5:30 p.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased at a discounted rate until the day before the game and can also be purchased for full price at the gate.
PDL Game Report
Saturday, June 28, 2014
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – The PDL’s Heartland Division has a sole leader…for at least one night.
In a battle for first place, the Des Moines Menace edged the Thunder Bay Chill, 1-0, tonight at Valley Stadium. These heated rivals face off again on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Chris Hellmann’s team-leading fourth goal was the difference. In the 56th minute, Sean Dong played in a ball from the right-side end line. Thunder Bay goalkeeper Daniel Alvarado missed the ball on his diving attempt, and Hellmann slid in to poke the ball into the wide-open goal mouth.
This is the fifth PDL shutout win for the Menace (6-1-0). Goalkeeper Paul Blanchette earned the clean sheet in his Menace debut.
“It was a good team win,” defender Alec Bartlett said. “I thought we performed well. We got the goal and stayed on top. I thought we held our intensity well and fended off any of their chances.”
The Menace seeks its first home sweep of the Chill since 2006. These teams split a doubleheader in Thunder Bay two weeks ago, and the all-time series, in its 15th year, is deadlocked at 24-24-4.
“Tomorrow, they’re going to come out angry,” Bartlett said of the Chill. “If we get these six points, the sky’s the limit for us. We could put ourselves in the driver’s seat. That’s ultimately what we want, to control our own destiny.”
Midway through its PDL schedule, the Menace sits atop the Heartland Division. The defending PDL finalist Chill (5-4-0) is in second place, followed by St. Louis (3-2-3) and Springfield (3-4-3).
MAN of the MATCH: Alec Bartlett.for his role in the Menace defense’s shutout. Bartlett, a native of Overland Park, Kan., is going to be a redshirt junior this fall for Drake.
UP NEXT: The Menace and the Chill are back at it tomorrow (Sunday) at 7:30 p.m. The match follows the Iowa High School All-Star Game (boys), which kicks off at 5 p.m.
USL PRO Game Report
Saturday, June 28, 2014
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – In a marquee match that featured two teams at the top of the USL PRO standings, Orlando City SC (13-0-3, 42 points) defeated third-placed side LA Galaxy II (8-5-4, 28 points) 3-0 on Saturday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Corey Hertzog scored his first brace in Orlando City colors, propelling the Lions to 16th consecutive matches without a loss.
“I think we’re good enough to have those kind of runs, so I’m not surprised,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath on the unbeaten run after the match. “But we have to keep it going now, and that’s the standard that we set for ourselves. We’ve been a work in progress but things are getting better. Our combination play has improved and so has the players’ ability to understand their roles.”
It didn’t take long for Orlando City to jump on the score-sheet, as Hertzog tucked away Luke Boden’s driven ball across the box in the 18th minute. Boden’s assist moved the veteran defender into second place for assists in club history (13).
Hertzog would then go on to secure his brace in the 43rd minute after splendid link-up play between Span and Molino on the edge of the area. Span drove inside from the wing and played the ball to Molino, who cleverly flicked a no-look pass in behind the defense to Hertzog for a comfortable finish.
Less than two minutes later, Hertzog came close to producing his first hat-trick in Orlando City colors when Tyler Turner played a wonderful cross to the striker, who managed to re-direct it into the top corner. Unfortunately for the Lions, Hertzog was ruled offside by the assistant referee.
Hertzog had countless additional opportunities to score early in the match, as the City front-line proved to be a continual threat for Los Dos. Hertzog nearly snuck one past Laurendi early in the match, but the goalkeeper did well to get low and tip it wide for a corner. Valentino’s header on the ensuing corner-kick was on its way in but the Galaxy II defense managed to clear it off the line.
Four minutes later, Hertzog blasted a powerful effort that rattled off the crossbar, keeping Laurendi honest.
Orlando would eventually add a third in the 61st minute when Kevin Molino scored his 11th goal of the season to take his place at the top of the USL PRO goal scoring table. Molino was able to find the back of the net after playing Span in behind with a crafty through ball. Span, who made a good run to create space, attempted to chip the goalkeeper and hit the post. The Trinidadian midfielder was lurking nearby and clinically slotted the rebound home to put the game out of reach for Los Dos.
Molino nearly scored a second in the 89th minute when he battled with Diallao and attempted to roll it past the ‘keeper. Unfortunately for the Lions' first MLS signing, it went just wide of the post.
Los Dos had limited chances in the match, as the run of play was dominated by Orlando. Jack McBean made an effort to cut inside the box and test Gallardo in the first half, but Turner was able to produce a crucial tackle that kept the Mexican goalkeeper out of harm’s way.
Los Dos opened up the second half with a cracking effort, when Diallo fired at Miguel Gallardo from close-range. The veteran ‘keeper has been in fine form all season and did well to push it wide and rid the danger.
LA Galaxy II’s remaining efforts would prove to be half-chances with no real threats of danger, allowing Gallardo and the City defense to maintain the clean-sheet and come away unscathed.
With the win, Orlando gains an 11-point cushion on the Richmond Kickers who remain in second place in USL PRO. Next week, the Lions will travel to take on the Wilmington Hammerheads on Thursday night for the first time this season. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Legion Stadium.
For more information, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com.
PDL Game Report
Saturday, June 28, 2014
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Laredo Heat handed the Austin Aztex their first defeat of the season as they claimed a 1-0 victory on Saturday night at House Park. The win allowed the Heat to keep pace with the Midland-Odessa Sockers in the Mid South Division standings as they moved two points behind the second-places Sockers with a game in hand.
The loss was the first PDL home loss for the Aztex in 17 games, dating back to a 2-1 loss to the El Paso Patriots on June 16, 2012. The loss was also the first loss in league play since the Heat defeated the Aztex 1-0 in Laredo on July 3, 2013.
The Aztex nearly punched through the Heat defense in the 27th minute when Chuy Cortes fed Buba Jobe the ball on the left side of the penalty area. Jobe was able to wrap around the left flank of the defense before he hit a pass across the face of the goal. Heat goalkeeper Jorge Ortega was able to deflect the pass for a loose ball in front of goal, and a Heat defender cleared the ball away. However, Aztex midfielder Alesi Osorio got the ball from 25 yards out and ripped a shot that sailed just over the crossbar.
Laredo was able to strike first in the 39th minute when Salvador Luna received a through-ball and was able to break through for a one-on-one with Aztex goalkeeper Devin Perales. Luna took a heavy touch to the ball and Perales beat Luna to the ball to clear it away, but saw his clearance attempt deflect off of trailing defender Travis Golden. The ball bounced to Luna, who hit the ball with an opportunistic shot into the corner of the open goal.
The goal was the fourth time in as many games in which the Aztex conceded the first goal. In the previous three matches, the Aztex would bounce back to defeat their opponents. However, the fourth time was not a charm.
Aztex head coach Manuel Buentello made two adjustments in the lineup at halftime, bringing Eddie Campbell in for Jobe and Marshall Tucker in for Golden.
The Aztex looked the grab the equalizer in the second half and pressed high in pursuit of a goal. This resulted in more chances from set pieces for the squad, including two attempts from Andrew Fox.
Perales was sure to keep the Aztex in the match with two big saves in the second half. However, Laredo took the opportunity to stall action in the second half to maintain the lead.
The Hear are the only team to shut out the Austin Aztex at House Park, having accomplished the feat twice. Prior to Saturday night’s game, the only other time the Aztex were shut out at House Park was a 2-0 loss to the Heat on June 9, 2012.
The Aztex will begin a three-game road trip starting with a rubber match versus the Heat on Tuesday. The Aztex return to House Park on Friday, June 11 to host the second-place Midland/Odessa Sockers.
PDL Game Report
Sunday, June 29, 2014
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Entering this weekend, the Des Moines Menace and the Thunder Bay Chill shared the lead in the PDL’s Heartland Division. With two wins in two nights at Valley Stadium, the Menace have established a firm grasp of the division’s top spot.
The Menace took down the Chill, 2-1, on Sunday night to earn their first home sweep of Thunder Bay since 2006. One night after Sean Dong assisted Chris Hellmann for the lone score, Dong set up two more Hellmann goals.
Hellmann finished Dong’s crosses in the 37th and 41st minutes. The Menace held on for its fourth straight win – with three straight victories against its arch-nemesis. At 7-1-0, Des Moines is off to its best start since 2003. Defending PDL finalist and regular-season champ Thunder Bay is 5-5-0 a year after finishing 12-1-1.
The team’s leader with 13 points and six goals (all in the last six matches), Hellmann was quick to deflect praise to Dong and his teammates.
“Sean was one of the first guys here, and he really helped welcome me to the team,” Hellmann said. “He’s a good friend, and I think this carries onto the field. It’s not just between us; it’s the whole team. Everyone’s getting along really well, and it shows on the field.”
“I feel like I’m starting to click with the guys,” said Dong. “I’m earning more of their trust. The team’s coming together and we’re ready to finish strong.”
The Menace have enjoyed halftime leads in six of its seven wins, having outscored foes 11-1 in the opening half.
Hellmann nodded home Sunday night’s first goal. Dong got on the end of Charlie Bales’ through-ball, and he worked the left flank. Making a dramatic cut on the end-line, Dong lofted the ball to an unmarked Hellmann, who was 10 yards from the center of the goal.
Four minutes later, Dong put another cross on Hellmann’s right foot. Hellmann surprised Chill goalkeeper Daniel Alvarado with a powerful volley, as the Menace duplicated a 2-0 first-half lead from a 3-2 win at Thunder Bay on June 14.
The Chill pulled one back in the 66th minute, when Simon Cote-Kougnuma brought down a Dominic Roberts cross with his chest. Cote-Kougnuma controlled the ball in the Menace penalty area, and rocketed a volley over Menace goalkeeper Paul Blanchette’s head. This is the only goal the Menace has conceded in four PDL home matches.
Heading into the last month of the season, the Menace eye their first PDL playoff berth in three years. If all goes as hoped, Mike Jeffries’ team could have the opportunity to clinch a postseason spot in front of the home crowd on July 12 against St. Louis.
First, the Menace needs to extend their streak next weekend at WSA Winnipeg.
MAN of the MATCH: Chris Hellmann, who collected his first brace for the Menace. Hellmann, a native of Cologne, Germany, attends Lynn University (Fla.). In just six matches, he has racked up 13 points – more than the Menace’s team leader a year ago (Shadow Sebele, nine).
UP NEXT: The Menace hits the road for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at WSA Winnipeg. The matches start at 7 p.m. at Winnipeg Soccer Complex.
Wilmington Hammerheads News Release -- www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com
Monday, June 30, 2014
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Wilmington Hammerheads FC and Cape Fear Soccer Club have announced a long-term strategic partnership to support the growth and development of youth soccer throughout the region. This partnership between the area’s only professional soccer team and the largest youth soccer club will focus on developing players and creating a top club that can compete at the highest level in not only the state, but the country.
“This is an exciting partnership for the Hammerheads organization,” said Wilmington Hammerheads General Manager Jason Arnold. “It creates a direct pathway for young players in our community to reach their potential as soccer players, while supporting our first team and their success.”
The agreement will go into effect beginning August 1, 2014. Cape Fear Soccer Club will publicly become Hammerheads FC and their current logo will be replaced by the existing Wilmington Hammerheads FC crest, matching the professional team. The youth club structure of Classic, Academy and Recreation will remain unchanged while improving development opportunities for players and staff through new and existing resources.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity for our community and the youth soccer players in Wilmington,” said Kenny Bundy, Executive Director of Cape Fear Soccer Club. “This partnership will only increase the soccer culture in Wilmington and build the Wilmington Hammerheads brand throughout this country. Our players, parents, coaches and volunteers could not be more excited to wear Hammerheads blue.”
The partnership between CFSC and the Wilmington Hammerheads will consist of several new joint initiatives, including tournaments, youth camps, tickets, education and outreach support. All registered youth will have the opportunity to learn from the professionals on a continual basis while being exposed to the professional environment.
“We look forward to the day we sign our first player to a pro contract who has gone through our new system,” said Arnold.
For more information regarding Wilmington Hammerheads FC or to purchase tickets, please contact (910) 777-2111 or visit online at www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com.
Richmond Kickers News Release -- www.richmondkickers.com
Monday, June 30, 2014
RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers are pleased to host the Mexico U21 National Team in an international exhibition at City Stadium this Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The historic match will showcase top young talent from Mexico’s top flight, Liga MX, as the team prepares for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. General admission tickets for $20 are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.
"Our previous Mexico match-up produced an electric crowd that was one, if not the best, fan atmospheres we have ever experienced at City Stadium,” said Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer. “This is another fantastic opportunity for our fans and players to sample the energy, passion and authentic soccer atmosphere this Word Cup style event will bring to RVA.”
The Mexican Olympic Team is led by Head Coach Raul Gutierrez who took the helm after leading the Mexico U17 National Team to the 2011 FIFA U17 World Cup title. With a professional career spanning 14 years with Atlante and Club America, he also earned 37 caps with the full Mexico National Team and was a member of the team that competed in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
The El Tri U21 roster is comprised mainly of players from Liga MX powers including first team players Giovani Casillas (Chivas Guadalajara), Houston, Texas native Uvaldo Luna (Tigres), Abel Fuentes (Oaxaca) and Marcelo Gracia (CF Monterrey). Also highlighting the roster are Jorge Espericueta, who currently plays with Villarreal of the Spanish La Liga and Carlos Salcedo from Major League Soccer side Real Salt Lake.
The current U21s will likely form the core of the squad that will compete in the 2015 Pan American Games, 2016 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Mexico is the reigning Olympic champion as they won their country’s first gold medal in soccer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Tuesday’s match marks the second time in club history that the Kickers will face the Mexican Olympic National Team, having hosted an exhibition in April 2010 when the visitors posted a 3-1 win. Rain showers throughout the day did not deter nearly 4,000 eager fans that saw David Izazola claim an early lead for the Mexican side with a 22nd minute tally. Former Kickers midfielder Mike Burke notched the equalizer just after halftime, with the score remaining deadlocked until the waning minutes of the match. Two back-to-back goals during stoppage time by Isaac Acuna and Piccolo Rojo, respectively, broke the stalemate to finish the first of their three-game U.S. tour on top.
General Admission tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com for $20, youth and adult. Fans are encouraged to join the Kickers Red Army and experience an authentic World Cup atmosphere in Section O, located directly behind the Mexico bench for just $15 in advance. With the exception of the Richmond Kickers 2014 All-Access Pass, season passes will not be accepted at this match.
Laredo Heat News Release -- www.laredoheatsc.com
Monday, June 30, 2014
LAREDO, Texas – The PDL's Mid South Division turned into its final stretch with a trio of Texas clubs racing toward the Southern Conference playoffs. Inevitably, one will be left out with only the top two qualifying for the postseason tournament. The division-leading Austin Aztex (7-1-1, 22 points) visit the third place Laredo Heat (4-2-3, 15 points) on Tuesday at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex at 8 p.m. CT in what could stand as a decisive contest as the PDL season heads into its final month.
Laredo trails the upstart Midland-Odessa Sockers (6-3-2, 20 points), but holds two games – and thus a maximum of six points – in hand, having played two fewer matches to this point. The Heat have never missed a postseason they’ve been eligible for, while the Sockers have never qualified for a postseason campaign.
The Heat shattered the Aztex’s undefeated season – and dealt them just their second loss in as many seasons – with a 1-0 victory on Saturday in Austin. Since Austin joined the league in 2012, the Aztex and Heat have traded division crowns and second place finishes while Austin eliminated Laredo in last year’s Southern Conference final. A Laredo victory on Tuesday would pull the Heat even in the head-to-head standings, with the matchup currently teetering at a 4-5-0 apex.
The Heat do hold the sharpest of edges at home, a 2-1 advantage, on the soccer-specific natural-grass pitch at TAMIU.
Although the Heat and Aztex met just two days before, the Heat hope to recoup their lineup with the return of center back Sebastian Ramirez from a red card suspension. Team captain Yair Hernandez and youth academy products Jorge Rocha and Omar Lopez were moved into the defensive quartet on Saturday, limiting a limping Aztex lineup in the clean sheet.
Outside fullbacks Frank Lara and Salvador “Chava” Luna were the only natural defensive starters at Austin. Both featured in the Heat’s waves of attack more notably than defensively, with Luna ripping the net with his third goal in as many games. The pair’s speed penetrated Austin from the touchline toward the center of the park, with Luna’s game-winner produced by his breakaway pace and deft angle of attack.
A claiming of at least a point against Austin would push Laredo into an opportunistic position, with the most turbulent portion of their schedule behind them. The Heat close their season with three consecutive matches against the Mississippi Brilla (2-5-2, 8 points) – one away and two at home – and the finale at the Houston Dutch Lions (1-6-2, 5 points). The Sockers close their season against the Aztex – twice – and Houston, while Austin faces the Sockers and Houston twice.
With a maximum of 15 points on the line, Laredo’s push toward the postseason begins Tuesday against the toughest of its remaining opponents.
The match will be streamed live on YouTube, and at each Laredo home gamethe Heat offer four fans a chance at winning $500. If the randomly selected fans can bury an undefended penalty kick at halftime, they will win $400 for themselves and $100 to the evening’s selected benefactor.
Dayton Dutch Lions News Release -- www.ddlfc.com
Monday, June 30, 2014
DAYTON, Ohio -- The Dayton Dutch Lions (4-10-2) are set to host the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (1-9-5) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET at DOC Stadium. The Dutch Lions will be aiming to take victory in the second game of a home-and-home series after claiming a 1-0 win on Saturday night at Highmark Stadium.
Eli Garner scored the only goal on Saturday night as the Dutch Lions moved into 11th place in the USL PRO standings. Dayton is four points behind eighth-placed OKC Energy FC for the final place in the playoffs, and Head Coach Sid van Druenen is hoping his side can continue to make a move up the standings as the calendar turns to July.
“We all know how important this game is for us, a win is all the team is thinking off," van Druenen said. "We also know, after playing Pittsburgh last Saturday, that they have some very dangerous players and we will have to be on our best defensively once again to get the win on Tuesday.”
A player to watch on the Riverhounds is Collins John. The striker from Holland has four goals and one assist so far this season. John had two appearances for the Dutch national team and played for teams as FC Twente, Fulham and the Chicago Fire.
This game can be seen live via live stream on the Dayton Dutch Lions FC Youtube page. After this home game the Dayton Dutch Lions FC travel to Charlotte to play against the Charlotte Eagles on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Visit the Dayton Dutch Lions FC website for tickets and more information, www.daytondutchlionsfc.com.
Orlando City SC News Release -- www.orlandocitysc.com
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Orlando City SC announced today it has signed global soccer icon Kaká to a multi-year contract. The signing marks yet another historic milestone in the club’s journey to joining Major League Soccer starting in the 2015 season.
Kaka has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, such as Spain’s Real Madrid and most recently with Italy’s A.C. Milan. Simply put, Kaka, who has appeared for the Brazilian National Team more than 80 times, including as recently as last year, has compiled one of the most highly decorated resumes of any soccer player in history both on and off the pitch:
· 3-Time FIFA World Cup participant
· FIFA World Cup Champion
· FIFA World Player of the Year
· European Player of the Year (Ballon D’Or)
· FIFA Club World Championship MVP
· UEFA Champions League Champion
· UEFA Super Cup Champion
· FIFA Club World Cup Champion
· Serie A (Italy) Champion
· La Liga (Spain) Champion
Top 5 Social Media Followers in World
More Twitter Followers & Facebook Likes than any U.S. Athlete
First Athlete in world to amass more than 10 million Twitter followers
Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World (2008 & 2009)
United Nation’s World Food Program International Ambassador
Kaka has been signed as a MLS Designated Player. Per MLS Rules, each Club may sign up to three players which only have a portion of their salaries counted towards the club’s official salary budget. Kaka joins other high-profile MLS Designated Players past and present such as England’s David Beckham (LA Galaxy), France’s Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls) and United States World Cup stars Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders F.C.) and Michael Bradley (Toronto FC).
The signing marks the next chapter in what has been a long-standing relationship between Orlando City owner Flavio Augusto da Silva and Kaka. Augusto, who founded WiseUP which is an international chain of English-language schools, hired Kaka previously to serve as the company’s official spokesperson. While Augusto has since sold his majority ownership of WiseUP, his friendship with Kaka has remained strong. Further helping to solidify the agreement to join Orlando City is Kaka’s long-standing love affair with Central Florida where he has vacationed in the off-season for many years.
This player signing further strengthens Orlando City’s ties with the country of Brazil. In addition to Augusto being born and raised in Brazil, and Brazilians representing the highest number of visitors annually to Orlando (which is the world’s most visited city with over 70 million tourists last year), Orlando City recently became the first U.S. professional sports team to air its matches live via Portuguese-language broadcasts.
Kaka, whose full name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, goes by his nickname which was created by his younger brother due to his inability to pronounce “Ricardo.” The nickname stuck as a kid and he has been known throughout the international soccer community ever since simply as “Kaka.”
It was also announced today by Orlando City that it will loan Kaka for six months to Sao Paulo F.C., one of the top Brazilian clubs and Kaka’s hometown club. Kaka will then start play with Orlando City on January 1, 2015 in preparation for the club’s inaugural MLS season.
For more information, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com.
USL PRO News Release
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO named its Team of the Week for Week 15 of the 2014 season on Tuesday as Orlando City forward Corey Hertzog was named Player of the Week. Hertzog had a pair of goals as the Lions maintained their undefeated start to the season with a 3-0 victory against the LA Galaxy II on Saturday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Hertzog’s movement put him in positive positions to score throughout the game against the Galaxy II, and he was on hand to put home a first-time finish from close range after a good piece of combination play by Adama Mbengue and Luke Boden set up Orlando’s opening goal. Fellow Team of the Week selection Kevin Molino then set up Hertzog’s second, another first-time finish after a beautiful heel-flick pass from the Trinidad & Tobago international, who later added his league-leading 11th goal of the season to wrap up victory.
OKC Energy FC also had a pair of players selected to the Team of the Week as midfielder Mikey Lopez and defender Mark Howard were both named after their side’s 2-0 win against Sacramento Republic FC. Howard was solid defensively as goalkeeper Jon Kempin had to make only one save, and headed home powerfully to give his side the lead. Lopez was influential throughout, and was rewarded with his first professional goal as OKC moved into the playoff positions.
Lopez and Molino were joined in the Team of the Week midfield by Charlotte’s Wells Thompson, who had the assist on both of the Eagles’ goals as they took four points from two games in Harrisburg and Rochester. Wilmington’s Tom Parratt completed the quartet after his goal gave the Hammerheads the lead in their 1-1 draw with Richmond. Orange County’s Allan Russell joined Hertzog in attack after his penalty kick and energetic play powered the Blues to a comeback 3-2 victory against Arizona on Saturday night.
The Kickers’ Hugh Roberts lined up alongside Howard in the defensive group, as the former Baltimore Bohemians standout first professional goal earned Richmond a point in Wilmington, while Sacramento’s Emrah Klimenta’s also bagged his first professional goal to give Republic FC a 1-0 win against Arizona United. Harrisburg’s Coady Andrews rounded out the group after his 90th-minute header earned the City Islanders a 1-1 draw with Charlotte, and Dayton’s Matt Williams claimed the goalkeeper position after a five-save shutout for the Dutch Lions in their 1-0 win against Pittsburgh.
The USL PRO season continues on Tuesday night as the Dayton Dutch Lions FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds complete their home-and-home series at DOC Stadium at 7 p.m. ET. The holiday weekend of action then kicks off on Thursday night as Wilmington Hammerheads FC hosts Orlando City SC at Legion Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET, while the Fourth of July brings a west-coast doubleheader as the LA Galaxy II host Arizona United SC at 7 p.m. ET, and Sacramento Republic FC host the Orange County Blues FC at 10:30 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 USLPROSoccer.com.
USL PRO Team of the Week
Honorable Mention – Arizona: Paolo DelPiccolo, Kadeem Dacres; Charlotte: Fred Sekyere, Alec Kann; Dayton: Eli Garner, Guilherme Felix; Harrisburg: Danny DiPrima; LA Galaxy II: Bradley Diallo; Oklahoma City: Kyle Greig, Kyle Miller; Orange County: Andrew Hoxie, Josh Suggs; Orlando: Cobi Span, Luke Boden; Pittsburgh: Jose Angulo, Sterling Flunder; Richmond: Matt Delicate, Conor Shanosky; Rochester: Alec Sundly, JC Banks; Sacramento: Rodrigo Lopez, Justin Braun; Wilmington: Paul Nicholson, Christian Davidson.
PDL Game Report
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
RICHMOND, B.C. – Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 celebrated Canada Day in the only way they seem to know recently: by winning.
The ‘Caps earned their sixth straight victory in PDL action on Tuesday afternoon at Minoru Oval Park, as they rolled to a 4-1 decision over their Northwest Division rivals Washington Crossfire.
Second-half substitute Cody Cook led the way for the Blue and White as he netted a pair of goals to increase his team-leading tally to 10 on the season. Reynold Stewart and Marco Bustos also found the back of the net for Vancouver.
Bustos and fellow Residency midfielder Kianz Froese were both very involved early on – the two players combined for the first real chance of the match in the fifth minute. But a Crossfire defender slid to block Bustos’ attempt from inside the 18-yard box to keep the score level.
Froese had a chance of his own in the 17th minute, as he made a nice run down the left flank, cut to the middle, before putting his shot wide of the right post.
The visiting Crossfire had their first opportunity in the 29th minute, when Hassani Stephenson headed a free kick just wide of the ‘Caps net. Shortly after, Bustos drew first blood for Whitecaps FC U-23. After receiving a nice ball from Brett Levis down the right side, Bustos hammered a low shot into the left corner to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.
Washington equalized just before the break off another free kick. This time, ‘Caps goalkeeper William Diaz punched the ball out onto the waiting foot off striker Hamza Haddadi, who made no mistake and fired it into an empty net.
With the score level, Whitecaps FC U-23 took over in the second half thanks largely to the contributions of their substitutes. Niall Cousens made his presence felt immediately after coming on for Froese. And in the 70th minute, after Cousens had a crack at a Mitch Piraux corner in the air, Cook deftly picked up the ball inside the box and slotted it in to put the ‘Caps ahead 2-1.
Another substitute found the back of the net in the 77th minute – this time it was Stewart, who turned on his heel just outside the area and fired home his second goal of the season. First-team midfielder Bryce Alderson, who played the full 90 minutes in each of Vancouver’s last two PDL games, was awarded the assist on the goal.
Cook added a little insult to injury at the death. After Levis was tripped up in the Crossfire box, the Victoria native converted the subsequent penalty to increase Vancouver’s lead to 4-1. That’s how the match would end, as the final whistle sounded moments later.
Head coach Niall Thompson was particularly impressed with the play of his substitutes and, considering they scored three of his squad’s four goals on the day, it’s easy to see why.
“We said at halftime that our counter-attack was taking too long, there were too many touches, and there wasn’t enough quality on our crosses,” Thompson said. “The subs that came in knew their roles, knew what we expected of them, and capitalized on their opportunities.”
PDL Game Report
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
LAREDO, Texas – The Austin Aztex took a 2-1 victory against the Laredo Heat on Tuesday night at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex in a key Mid South Division clash that saw the Aztex extend their lead at the top of the division to five points. Laredo had earned a 1-0 victory against Austin in the opening game of the home-and-home series on Saturday night at House Park, but goals by Andrew Fox and Adam Black earned Austin some revenge for their only defeat of the season so far.
Laredo (4-3-3, 15 points) pushed natural outside fullback Salvador “Chava” Luna into a more positive position, hoping to ride his recent goal-scoring form to a crucial three points. Luna scored his fourth goal in as many matches, coming in the 45th minute, but it fell short of a result despite Laredo’s dominating possession-based offense.
An eventful first half crowded the scoresheet, with all three goals and five of the seven bookings coming in the first 45 minutes. Laredo sent 12 shots in the direction of Austin goalkeeper Devin Perales – four in the first half and eight more in the second – as Laredo held Austin without a shot in the second half that saw the normally fluid and ever-dangerous Aztex silenced while sitting 10 men behind the ball. Perales finished six saves while Austin took only five shots in the match, of which none resulted in a save by Laredo goalkeeper Jorge Ortega.
The Aztex seized the lead in the 33rd minute, however, when Fox cruised unassisted to the back of the net. Their lead was doubled early in first-half stoppage time as Black’s deft header found the back of the net after a long clearance from Perales’ booming boot.
Seconds later, Heat left back Frank Lara pinpointed a pass to the full-stride Luna, who beat the Aztex for the second time this season. Luna scored the only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 victory, sealing the Aztex’s second loss since the 2013 season kicked off.
Since Austin joined the league in 2012, the Aztex and Heat have traded division crowns and second place finishes while Austin eliminated Laredo in last year’s Southern Conference final. Head-to-head, the Heat stand 4-0-6 against the Aztex, who will begin play in USL PRO in 2015.
Laredo now trails the Midland-Odessa Sockers (6-3-2, 20 points) by five points with one game in hand. Only the Mid South’s top two finishers qualify for the Southern Conference playoffs – a qualification the Heat have never failed to achieve.
The Heat will next travel to Jackson, Miss., to face the Mississippi Brilla (2-5-2, 8 points) on Saturday night. The Brilla will then visit Laredo for a pair of matches in Laredo on July 10 and 12.
Each home game will see the Heat offer four fans a chance at winning $500. If the randomly selected fans can bury an undefended penalty kick at halftime, they will win $400 for themselves and $100 to the evening’s selected benefactor.
Richmond Kickers News Release -- www.richmondkickers.com
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
RICHMOND, Va. – In a Tuesday evening feature at City Stadium, Richmond would finish its friendly with the Mexico U-21 National Team in a 1-1 draw as Richmond's Hugh Roberts and Mexico's Alfonso Tamay each found the back of the net.
Defense was the story for the first 45 minutes between Richmond and the Mexican National Team with both sides capitalizing on clearing chances and defensive plays to keep the game scoreless through the opening half.
Mexico tried to break the scoreless deadlock early in the first half off a corner kick in the seventh minute. Midfielder Rafael Escamilla took the corner on the right side of the box and sent his kick into the middle of both teams jostling for position inside Richmond's 18-yard box. Richmond fought to clear the ball but a Mexico player found the rebound and made a quick attempt on goal but it went wide to the right of the post and out of play.
The Kickers would answer Mexico's offensive attempts with a chance of their own in the 10th minute thanks to Richmond midfielder Nate Robinson. Robinson gained the zone on the left wing and dished the ball back to waiting defender Shane Johnson who was able to quickly send the ball into the Mexican defensive zone, finding midfielder Samuel Asante.
Asante was able to get a head to Johnson's seeking cross but the ball was grabbed by Mexican goalkeeper Alejandro Pelaez, keeping the game level.
Later in the 21st minute, Mexico again found itself in the attacking zone as Alfonso Tamay was able to get the ball settled and charged toward the Kickers' goal. His right-footed shot took a turn and went wide to the right and out of play for a Richmond goal kick.
Kickers' goalkeeper Ryan Taylor made defensive plays of his own to keep the his clean sheet going through the first half. In the 25th minute, Taylor was able to come off his line and charge the ball just outside the penalty box of Richmond, getting a head to it and clearing it away.
The ball did come to Mexico forward Guillermo Madrigan and his first-time shot went wide of the right post and out of play.
Mexico attempted to get the edge in the final moments of the first thanks to the play of Tamay, who powered through the Richmond defense and got to the top of the penalty area to fire off a quick shot. Tamay was stopped by the active hands of Taylor in goal, who grabbed the ball and made the save, allowing the game to remain scoreless at the end of the first half.
Once the second half got underway, Mexico got on the scoreboard quickly in the 53rd minute. Midfielder Uvaldo Luna drove from the right wing to the middle in an effort to find Tamay on the run. Tamay was able to race into the box and get deep into Richmond's penalty area and send his shot past Taylor and into the back of the net.
Later in the half, Richmond would respond thanks to a free kick taken by midfielder Shay Spitz, who sent a delivery into Mexico's 18-yard box and found the head of Richmond defender Hugh Roberts. In mid-air, Roberts was able to direct the shot directly into the upper-right corner of the goal and past Pelaez to make it 1-1.
Richmond remained dangerous in the final minutes as forward Tishan Hanley was able to take a shot that rang off the crossbar and back down to the ground inside Mexico's box. Mexico goalkeeper Palaez remained strong in goal as he stayed with the play and grabbed the ball to relieve the pressure as the game finished level.
With this friendly in the books, Richmond turns its attention back to USL PRO action as it welcomes the Real Salt Lake Reserves on Sunday evening at 5 p.m. ET. Order tickets now for upcoming games now at RichmondKickers.com.
Seattle Sounders Women Feature -- www.sounderswomen.com
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
TUKWILA, Wash. – Traveling 4,800 miles from the heart of Bristol, England to the evergreens of Seattle, defender Rachel Pitman has found a temporary home away from home with the Seattle Sounders Women.
“I love playing for the Sounders,” Pitman said. “I was really nervous about coming because I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know what the level was like. I just put pressure on myself every game and make sure I am doing the best that I can be doing.”
At an early age of five, Pitman began playing soccer in England with a local girls team, which is uncommon for the area that Pitman grew up in. A majority of Pitman’s friends played on a boy’s team, due to the lack of young girls wanting to play.
Continuing her love and passion for soccer, Pitman became engulfed in her academy team, and eventually moved to London to play for a prestigious Ladies Arsenal Club team. With Arsenal she mixed studying and training throughout her adolescence. Pitman helped lead Arsenal to league and cup titles.
After Arsenal, Pitman made the decision to attend a university in England. She had her courses, housing and everything ready to roll only to make a last minute decision to make America her new home.
“I completely changed my mind and my mom was like ‘what is going on?’ ” Pitman said.
Pitman’s decision to attend DePaul University in Chicago was grounded by two outside factors. Pitman’s coach from Arsenal was a friend with the DePaul coach, and one of Pitman’s best friends who played for Arsenal went to DePaul a year earlier.
Pitman, 22, is now going into her senior year at DePaul and is determined to be an all-star on the field. She usually goes back to England for the summer, but all of the teams stoped playing, making it hard for her to train.
“I usually come in for preseason and the coaches are always like ‘you’re not fit enough’, so I decided to stay out for the summer,” Pitman said. “I sacrificed going home to England and I wanted to play in the W-League.”
Unsure of how to go about playing in the W-League, Pitman contacted quite a few teams. Fortunately, head coach Hubert Busby Jr. had already observed Pitman and made initial contact with her coach at DePaul. Eager to make a decision, Pitman looked into Seattle and became very interested. After being here in Washington for about a month now, Pitman feels she made the right choice.
Making the move from Chicago to Seattle was easy for Pitman because of the resemblances between her childhood and host family. Pitman grew up with four kids and was always on the go to an athletic practice.
“I’m like, wow, this just reminds me of growing up. We were always there doing stuff, always together,” Pitman said. “That’s what really made me feel at home here — it felt a little bit like home.”
Due to NCAA rules, Pitman was unable to play in the first three games of the season because of the restrictions to leave DePaul early (can’t miss class early to finish spring semester). Thus far, she has played in four games, totaling one goal, three shots and 360 playing minutes.
“I feel like I have really had some of my best games here and that’s what you need going into your season,” Pitman said.
When asked if she prefers playing for the Sounders or DePaul, Pitman said it’s two totally different things. The major difference is that you aren’t going to find a college team like the Sounders since the girls are handpicked.
“I like both,” Pitman said. “I am loving my time playing here and just the vision of the girls. It’s small things, like they already know what they’re going to do with the ball before you give it to them. You don’t necessarily find that with all women’s soccer players around the country, so that’s what I like here.”
Pitman says the Sounders girls are great. She enjoys that everyone looks out and demands more of each other.
“Everyone is at such a high level and sometimes at college you’ve got people that aren’t as good, people that are really good, and it’s hard to find that middle factor, “Pitman said. “Whereas here, the bar is set high.”
Up until Pitman’s sophomore year at DePaul, she was a forward. DePaul lacked a full back, so Pitman volunteered. Pitman’s new position required her to play half forward and half defender, but she had a hard time switching her mentality from forward to defender and visa versa.
“I told my coaches to pick a position and I’ll be happy with whatever,” Pitman said. “We ended up picking a full back for me and now I feel like I’m pretty set there. That is going to be my position forever.”
Pitman said she could never be a center back because she couldn’t go forward. She appreciates the freedom that Hubert Busby Jr. allows and enjoys the fact that he loves his players to play a wing back position.
“I really like him as a coach because he doesn’t have any restrictions on what you can do,” Pitman said. “He says if you can get back, go for it.”
This motto is especially beneficial to the team — partly because of the fantastic crosses that Pitman is capable of as she launched direct balls into the box. Pitman loves using her forward knowledge, and applying it to benefit the team.
Pitman’s favorite part about soccer is the team atmosphere. She likes how everyone works for each other and the feeling after a great win.
“I’m just learning that everyone is beneficial to your knowledge— your teammates, your coaches, and everyone else— it’s so great to be a part of,” Pitman said. “It’s nice to know if you miss a ball your teammates are behind you to back you up and sort it out.”
Pitman is visa expires after she graduates from DePaul, leaving her future plans up in the air.
“I still want to play soccer, but I would love to live in America,” Pitman said.
Pitman’s words of advice to youth soccer players is to practice, practice and more practice.
“You can already have the talent, but if you don’t work hard you won’t get anywhere,” Pitman said. “Unless you are practicing, you are never going to reach your full potential. If you think you are perfect at something, you probably aren’t, just keep working at it.”
Aside from playing soccer, Pitman’s hobbies include going to concerts, hanging out with friends, trying new restaurants and listening to Beyoncé, “because who doesn’t love her?” Pitman said.
Next on the schedule for the Sounders Women is a home game against the LA Blues at 7:30 p.m. on July 3 at Starfire Stadium. The last home match will be against Bay Area Breeze at 4 p.m. on July 6 at Starfire Stadium. For tickets and details, see SoundersWomen.com.