Our proud and beloved Dayton Dutch Lions have returned to their roots in 2015. By that I mean they will rejoining the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League. DDL will be competing in the Great Lakes Division of the PDL’s Central Conference.
This is the same division in which DDL participated during its inaugural 2010 season. It’s been a while, however, since that first season, and not all of the teams are the same. Let’s take a moment to get to know the “competition”.
Derby City Rovers
2014 Record: 3-7-4, 13 points, 6th place South Atlantic Division, DNQ for playoffs
Home Venue: Centurion Soccer Field, Louisville, KY
Last season was so bad for the Rovers that the club changed its name to distance itself from the shame. Let’s hope the Dayton Dutch Lions can help prod the Louisville team to another name change after 2015.
DDL faced off against the Rovers in the opening round of the 2013 US Open Cup. Three different players scored goals in a 3-0 victory for the Dutch Lions. This was the only match contested between the two clubs.
Forest City London
2014 Record: 6-4-4, 22 points, 4th place Great Lakes Division, DNQ for playoffs
Home Venue: German-Canadian Club of London Field, London, Ontario
The club was founded in 2009 and qualified for the PDL playoffs every season except for last season. London won the PDL championship in 2012.
DDL and London faced each other twice during the 2010 PDL regular season. Dayton earned a draw at home, but lost north of the border.
K-W United FC
2014 Record: 8-3-3, 27 points, 2nd place Great Lakes Division, loss in Central Conference Championship
Home Venue: University Stadium, Waterloo, Ontario
K-W United have struggled on the pitch and in the stands. The club relocated to Waterloo from Hamilton in an attempt to fix one of those problems. Last season was the first that this team has qualified for the playoffs.
DDL has never faced K-W United in a meaningful competition.
2014 Record: 9-2-3, 30 points, 1st place Great Lakes Division, PDL Champions
Home Venue: Ultimate Soccer Arenas, Pontiac, Michigan
If there will be any club that might present a problem for the Dutch Lions, it could be the Michigan Bucks. By taking another look at the 2014 accomplishments listed above, you will be reminded that the Bucks took first place in the Great Lakes Division before winning the national championship. It’s also worth noting that this was the 2014 USL PDL Organization of the Year.
DDL has a 2-1-0 record against Michigan. The teams split the home-and-away series in the 2010 PDL regular season. Dayton advanced past the Bucks in the fourth round of the 2012 US Open Cup.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23
2014 Record: 2-11-1, 7 points, 6th place Great Lakes Division, DNQ for playoffs
Home Venue: Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
This is not the same team that DDL tormented in USL PRO the last several years. It is their younger, less-experienced brother. It appears, though, that the same hideous logo adorns the jerseys. The 2014 season was the first for the pups.
(If you are bent on making an away trip this summer, let me suggest the 4-hour ride to Pittsburgh. Highmark Stadium is a fantastic place to watch a match.)
This is not your grandfather’s Toronto entry into USL PDL. That club, Toronto Lynx, will not be operating a PDL team this season. This appears to be a new venture by the ownership group of FC Toronto. We’ve witnessed how successful this group is at missing the MLS playoffs, so there is nothing to worry about here.