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PDL Games to Watch - 2017 Rivalry Matchups (Part One)

02/14/2017, 3:15pm EST
By AARON CRANFORD - aaron.cranford@uslsoccer.com

Dragons FC vs. Fuego, Sol F.C. vs. FC Tucson among must-see PDL rivalries

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Photos courtesy of Fresno Fuego/FC Tucson

The 2017 Premier Development League schedule was unveiled on Friday, and highly-anticipated rivalries were among the 504 games set to kick off this summer. Ahead of the action, we have highlighted five rivalries fans across North America should keep an eye on.

San Diego Zest FC vs. Southern California Surf

2017 Matchups: May 6, 9 p.m. ET; July 12, 8 p.m. ET

2016 Meetings: N/A

Club History: San Diego Zest FC joined the PDL in 2016 and reached the PDL Playoffs by finishing second in a tough Southwest Division. Matthew Hurlow-Paonessa, who was a standout player for Zest FC in 2016, signed a pro deal with the United Soccer League’s Phoenix Rising FC in December. The Southern California Surf joined the PDL in November and will play their home matches at the Army and Navy Academy's Maffucci Field in downtown Carlsbad, California.

Burlingame Dragons FC vs. Fresno Fuego


Photo courtesy of Lyndsay Radnedge / Jamael Cox (pictured) scored game-winner vs. Fresno Fuego on May 6, 2016

2017 Matchups: May 6, 10:30 p.m. ET; May 14, 7 p.m. ET; June 18, 7 p.m. ET

2016 Meetings: Burlingame Dragons FC won two of the three regular season matchups against the Fresno Fuego, defeating its rivals, 1-0, in the first game at Chukchansi Park and recording a 2-1 result in the second match at Chukchansi Park. In the only match at Burlingame High School, the Fuego earned a 2-1 win. Dragons FC and the Fuego also met in the PDL Playoffs, facing off against one another in the play-in match for a spot in the Western Conference Championship in Tucson, Arizona. In a thrilling match, Burlingame secured a 3-2 win against Fresno at Chukchansi Park.

Club History: Founded in 2003, the Fuego have won five PDL division titles, including the Central Pacific title in 2016. The club has reached the PDL Semifinals twice, with its last appearance coming in 2013. Dragons FC joined the PDL in 2015 and went on to win the Southwest Division title the same season. Burlingame has reached the PDL Playoffs both years of operation. Christian Chaney (Fuego), Pablo Campos (Fuego), Nick Lima (Dragons FC) and Brian Wright (Dragons FC) are among the numerous players who have joined a professional team following PDL play with these two clubs.

Charlotte Eagles vs. Wilmington Hammerheads FC

2017 Matchups: May 13, 7 p.m. ET; June 7, 7 p.m. ET

2016 Meetings: N/A

Club History: The Charlotte Eagles and Wilmington Hammerheads FC have a long history facing off against one another, with their first matchup occurring in 1996. The Eagles, who joined the PDL in 2015 and have won back-to-back South Atlantic Division titles, have helped multiple players on their path to the pros. Among the many Eagles alumni with PDL experience include 2017 MLS SuperDraft selections Jaime Siaj (No. 45 overall) and Santi Moar (No. 82 overall). The Hammerheads will compete in their first PDL campaign in 2017.

Sounders FC U23 vs. Portland Timbers U23


Photo courtesy of Sounders FC U23 / Guillermo Delgado (pictured) scored against the Portland Timbers U23 on June 25, 2016

2017 Matchups: May 19, 10:30 p.m. ET; June 4, 5 p.m. ET; June 13, 10 p.m. ET

2016 Recap: The Sounders FC U23 and Portland Timbers U23 each won once. In the first meeting at North Thurston High School, the Timbers U23 topped their rivals, 2-1. In the rematch at Doc Harris Stadium, the Sounders U23 edged the Timbers U23 by the same scoreline.

Club History: The Timbers U23 became the first PDL team to finish with a perfect record, winning the 2010 PDL Championship with a 16-0-0 overall record. Since beginning PDL play in 2006, the Sounders U23 have won two Northwest Division titles and have reached the PDL Semifinals twice – most recently in 2015. Both clubs have had numerous players move on to and excel in the professional ranks, with DeAndre Yedlin (Sounders U23), Jordan Morris (Sounders U23), Khiry Shelton (Timbers U23) and Fatai Alashe (Timbers U23) being among the many alumni.

Albuquerque Sol F.C. vs. FC Tucson


Photo courtesy of FC Tucson / FC Tucson celebrates winning the "Golden Rattler" after defeating Albuquerque Sol F.C.

2017 Matchups: May 20, 9:30 p.m. ET; June 24, 10 p.m. ET; July 1, 9:30 p.m. ET; July 3, 10 p.m. ET

2016 Meetings: FC Tucson won both inter-division contests against Albuquerque Sol F.C. in 2016, securing a 2-0 victory at the University of New Mexico Soccer Stadium before defeating Sol F.C., 5-0, at the Kino Sports Complex.

Club History: Tucson and Sol F.C. have competed against one another each season since Albuquerque joined the PDL in 2014. Both clubs competed in the Mountain Division from 2013-14, while Sol F.C. moved to the Mid South Division and Tucson joined the Southwest Division for the 2016 season. Tucson, which has had numerous alumni move on and shine at the professional level – including current Real Salt Lake attacker Ricardo Velazco – has won three consecutive division titles. Sol F.C. finished second in the Mountain Division in 2015, earning its first PDL Playoffs berth.


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Tag(s): NEWS  Charlotte Eagles  Albuquerque Sol F.C.  Burlingame Dragons FC  Fresno Fuego  Portland Timbers U23  Sounders FC U23  FC Tucson   San Diego Zest FC  Wilmington Hammerheads FC  Southern California Surf