A total of 72 Premier Development League franchises will take part in the 2017 regular season, meaning many rivalry matches are set to kick off this summer. Ahead of the action, we have highlighted ten rivalries fans across North America should keep an eye on. Part One, which includes matchups such as Burlingame Dragons FC vs. Fresno Fuego, can be viewed here.
Photo courtesy of Jersey Express / No. 17 Juan Correa (pictured) scored one goal against the New York Red Bulls U23 on June 11, 2016
2017 Matchups: May 24, 7:30 p.m. ET; June 14, 7:30 p.m. ET; June 28, 8 p.m. ET
2016 Meetings: The New York Red Bulls U23 earned a 2-1 win at the Red Bull Training Facility in the first matchup against the Jersey Express of 2016, but the Express earned a 4-2 victory at Elizabeth High School on June 11 and recorded a 1-1 tie at home on July 6.
Club History: The Red Bulls U23 joined the PDL in 2015, and in that same year, they won the Mid Atlantic Division before reaching the PDL Championship. Numerous PDL alums have taken the field for the Red Bulls U23, including Homegrown Player signing Arun Basuljevic and 2017 MLS SuperDraft selections Eric Klenofsky (No. 34 overall) and Thomas de Villardi (No. 42 overall). The Express, who joined the PDL in 2008, have claimed one PDL division title and six PDL Playoffs berths. David Greczek, who recently signed a professional contract with the Swope Park Rangers, is among the many talented alumni to have played for the Express.
Photo courtesy of Reading United AC / Reading United's Frantzdy Pierrot (pictured) provided three assists against the Ocean City Nor'easters in 2016
2017 Matchups: June 2, 7:30 p.m. ET; June 23, 7:30 p.m. ET; July 1, 7 p.m. ET
2016 Meetings: Reading United AC defeated the Ocean City Nor’easters in both 2016 contests, which included one of the most thrilling games of the PDL regular season. After defeating the Nor’easters, 2-0, at Carey Stadium on June 4, Reading United made a late comeback and earned a 4-3 win at Don Thomas Stadium on June 25.
Club History: Reading United and the Nor’easters have a history of developing high-caliber players, with 2016 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Hedges (Reading United), No. 1 2015 PDL Top Prospect Keegan Rosenberry (Reading United) and 2016 PDL MVP Chevaughn Walsh (Nor’easters) among the clubs’ alumni currently playing professionally. The two clubs played their first game against one another in 1997. The Nor’easters have three PDL division titles, while Reading United has won four division titles – which includes the 2016 Mid Atlantic title.
Photo courtesy of Saint Louis FC U-23
2017 Matchups: June 7, 6:30 p.m. ET; June 17, 6 p.m. ET; June 21, 6:30 p.m. ET
2016 Meetings: The Saint Louis FC U-23 and St. Louis Lions drew in both matchups during the 2016 PDL regular season. In the first meeting at Tony Glavin Soccer Complex, the sides tied, 2-2, while the Lions earned a 1-1 result on the road at SLSG Collinsville Complex in the second game.
Club History: Founded in 2006 and led by Tony Glavin, the Lions have earned two PDL Playoffs berths while assisting the development of numerous players – including Tom Heinemann and Lawrence Olum –on their path to the professional level. The Saint Louis FC U-23 side joined the PDL ahead of the 2016 season.
Photo courtesy of Joe Sprunger / No. 14 Thomas Barlow (pictured heading the ball) scored two goals vs. the Thunder Bay Chill in 2016
2017 Matchups: June 9, 7:30 p.m. ET; June 10, 7:30 p.m. ET; June 17, 8:30 p.m. ET
2016 Meetings: The Des Moines Menace secured back-to-back wins against the Thunder Bay Chill at Fort William Stadium in 2016, recording a 2-0 result in the first matchup and a 2-1 win in the second meeting a day later on June 11. On July 9, the Chill played the Menace to a 1-1 tie at Valley Stadium.
Club History: For the past 10 PDL seasons, the winner of the Heartland Division has been either the Menace or the Chill. The clubs have played 57 times, with the Menace leading the all-time series 28-24-5 and the first game being played in 2000. The Menace, who won the 2005 PDL Championship, have won five total Heartland titles and three consecutive heading into the 2017 regular season. Des Moines has had numerous standouts play in the PDL, including current professional players Lamar Neagle and Danny Cruz and 2017 MLS SuperDraft selections Daniel Johnson (No. 11 overall), Jalen Brown (No. 38 overall), Austin Ledbetter (No. 53 overall) and Andrew Putna (No. 58 overall). The Chill, who won the 2008 PDL Championship, have claimed six total Heartland titles, with their last being won in 2013. Notable Chill alums include current Colorado Rapids defender Axel Sjöberg and San Jose Earthquakes defender Shaun Francis.
Photo courtesy of Seacoast United Phantoms / Terence Carter (pictured with the ball) scored the game-winner vs. GPS Portland Phoenix on June 1, 2016
2017 Matchups: June 18, 6 p.m. ET; June 25, 6 p.m. ET; July 12, 7 p.m. ET
2016 Meetings: The Seacoast United Phantoms recorded a 1-0 win in the first matchup of the year against the GPS Portland Phoenix at Southern New Hampshire University. The Phoenix got their revenge in the second meeting, securing a 4-0 result at Yarmouth High School.
Club History: The two clubs have competed against one another since the Phoenix joined the PDL’s Northeast Division in 2010. The Phoenix have won three division titles (2011, 2015 and 2016), while the Phantoms have claimed one title (2014) since joining the PDL in 2008. Travis Worra (Phantoms) and Aaron Schoenfeld (Phoenix) are among the clubs’ many alumni who are currently playing professionally around the world.
Tag(s): NEWS Des Moines Menace St. Louis Lions Thunder Bay Chill GPS Portland Phoenix Seacoast United Phantoms Jersey Express New York Red Bulls U23 Ocean City Nor'easters Reading United AC Saint Louis FC U-23