The largest division in the PDL has opened up its 2015 campaign with the Long Island Rough Riders’ 3-1 victory against former Northeast Division side Westchester Flames on Saturday. The Jersey Express look to defend their division crown, Reading United AC celebrates its 20th anniversary and the Mid Atlantic Division also welcomes the New York Red Bulls U-23s.
Baltimore Bohemians: The Bohemians finished around the middle of the division table in 2014 with a fifth-place showing and 6-6-2 record. Baltimore hopes to return to the postseason success it enjoyed in 2013 with a runner-up performance in the Mid Atlantic. The Bohemians prepare for a road trip to Westchester on Saturday and then host Reading United AC on May 23 at Bonvegna Field.
D.C. United U-23: The formerly named Northern Virginia Royals are looking to rebound from their sixth-place finish in the Mid Atlantic in 2014. The team will look quite different from a year ago, though forward Kennedy O’Shea returns after making seven appearances for the Royals last season. D.C. hits the road on Sunday to take on the New York Red Bulls U-23s and then hosts the Ocean City Nor’easters on May 23 at the Evergreen Sports Complex.
F.A. Euro: Still a relative PDL newcomer, F.A. Euro took seventh place in the division last year in the club’s second season. Goalkeeper Thomas Zehner, who made six starts with the former PDL side NJ-LUSO Parma in 2014, joins F.A. Euro for the upcoming season. Forward Nicolo Baudo, a native of Liverpool, is expected to bring some pace and power to the team’s front line. F.A. Euro begins this season with a pair of home games against the New York Red Bulls U-23s on Friday, followed by the Long Island Rough Riders on May 23 at Belson Stadium at St. John’s University.
Jersey Express: The Jersey Express are coming off their best season in the PDL since joining in 2008. The Express won the Mid Atlantic in 2014 and advanced to the national semifinals. Defender Kouassi Sylvain N’Guessan, who was named to the 2014 All-Eastern Conference Team, returns for Jersey in 2015. He tied for third on the team in regular-season appearances with 12. The Express open the 2015 season at the Long Island Rough Riders on Saturday and then host F.A. Euro on May 30 at NJIT Stadium.
Lehigh Valley United Sonic: Pennsylvania-based Lehigh Valley United Sonic joins the PDL after having a successful run in the NPSL that included championships in 2008 and 2012. Lehigh Valley United hosts Reading United AC on Saturday at Whitehall Soccer Stadium.
Long Island Rough Riders: The Rough Riders have already kicked off their 2015 PDL season, earning a 3-1 victory against the Westchester Flames on Saturday. Tyler Botte scored twice and Colin Murphy added a tally. The team’s defense is anchored by center back Thomas Wharf, who kicked off his fifth PDL season with Long Island. The Rough Riders next host the Jersey Express on Saturday. The Rough Riders finished third in the Mid Atlantic Division last year.
New York Red Bulls U-23: The New York Red Bulls U-23s make their PDL debut in 2015. The team is coached by Rob Elliot, who formerly was the Red Bulls’ U-15/16 Development Academy head coach who guided the group to a national title during the 2011-12 season. A number of players from that Academy team are on this year’s PDL squad, including goalkeeper Evan Louro, Steven Echevarria, Brandon Tetro and Alex Muyl. NYRB U-23 opens the season with a road match against F.A. Euro on Friday, followed by its home opener on Sunday against the D.C. United U-23s.
Ocean City Nor’easters: After posting back-to-back Mid Atlantic Division crowns in 2012 and 2013, the Nor’easters had a bit of a letdown with a fourth-place finish in 2014. Ocean City finished with a 7-5-2 record and missed out on the playoffs. Ocean City is on the road for the first half of the season (seven games), starting against the D.C. United U-23s on Saturday. The Nor’easters will welcome the New York Red Bulls U-23s to Carey Stadium on June 20 for their home opener.
Reading United AC: PDL staple Reading United, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, qualified for its seventh straight postseason last year and earned second in the Mid Atlantic with a 9-1-4 record. A good portion of last season’s squad is back. One focal point was retaining its attack, including Darius Madison, Brett Campbell and Colton Storm. Madison, an All-ACC Second Team member, played a role in the University of Virginia’s run to the 2014 NCAA crown, scoring six goals in 19 matches during his junior season. Reading’s season starts with road matches against Lehigh Valley United Sonic (Saturday) and the Baltimore Bohemians (May 23), followed by its home opener on May 30 against the Ocean City Nor’easters at Don Thomas Stadium.
Westchester Flames: The Flames moved from the Northeast Division and opened its Mid Atlantic account with a 3-1 loss to Long Island on Saturday. It has been a long run since Westchester’s last postseason, when the Flames took first place in the Northeast in 2006 and advanced to the national semifinals. Westchester starts a five-game homestand on Saturday against the Baltimore Bohemians.