Photo by Ocean City Nor'easters
Ocean City Nor’easters have gone through many changes and adaptations throughout the years, but their continued ambition to stand out from the rest of the field in the Eastern Conference has seen them succeed.
The Nor’easters, competing in their 14th PDL season, started off playing in the D-3 Pro League, and were initially known as the South Jersey Barons. In 2003, the Barons played their first season in the USL PDL, and the club became the fifth team, at the time, to record an unbeaten (14-0-4) record during the regular season one year later.
In 2005, the next big change occurred. Giancarlo Granese took the reins of the club, moved the team to Ocean City, New Jersey, and renamed it to the Ocean City Barons. A few years passed before the team rebranded to become the Nor’easters.
“The PDL established legitimacy for all amateur players, coaches and clubs while providing their communities a chance to experience the excitement and passion of their local team,” Nor’easters General Manager Kevin Nuss said. “PDL has created the ideal training environment and showcase window for players of all backgrounds. I enjoy being a part of that and to help players chase their dream.”
Nuss and current Head Coach Tim “Oz” Oswald both joined the Nor’easters in 2012 after working with each other at Rutgers University–Camden. Their additions were the final major pieces to the puzzle that have made the Nor’easters what they are today.
“The Nor'easters have evolved and developed with the PDL, attracting top collegiate players while promoting and showcasing them to pro clubs around the world,” Nuss said. “In the five years that "Oz" and I have been with Ocean City, we have had 20-plus alumni sign professional contracts.”
While the Nor’easters have been around the block and have experienced their fair share of success in the league, as well as in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, it has been a challenge to stand out in a crowded Eastern Conference, a conference that includes well-known and established commodities like Reading United AC, New York Red Bulls U-23, Jersey Express and more.
“In such a tough division, we are forced to work harder to find undiscovered talent, and that has helped us to differentiate ourselves, while establishing a true blue-collar training environment,” Nuss said. “From there, we try our best to replicate a professional development environment to allow our players to train and play at their highest level. Some of our recent alums are Ken Tribbett and John McCarthy (Philadelphia Union), Tyler Miller (Seattle Sounders), Brendan Hines-Ike (Orebro of Sweden), Shawn McLaws and Keasel Broome (Harrisburg City Islanders), Ryan Richter and Nick Bibbs (Bethlehem Steel), Mitch Taintor (Toronto FC), Mitch Lurie (St. Louis FC), Victor Araujo (San Antonio FC), Derek Luke (FC Cincinnati) and more.
“I think our location and summer resort community make us different from not only other PDL clubs but most all sports franchises,” Nuss added. “Living, playing and training only steps from the beach creates a truly unique experience that is difficult to replicate.”
Competing for the eighth time in the Mid-Atlantic Division of the PDL, one goal for the Nor’easters is to return to the top of the heap – a benchmark they have reached twice since Nuss and Oz arrived on the scene.
“The goal for the Nor'easters,” Nuss said, “is to continue to develop professional players, maintain a first-class playing experience, while providing the community with family-fun entertainment.”