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Eastern Conference Power Rankings: 2017 Preseason

05/01/2017, 11:45am EDT
By AARON CRANFORD - aaron.cranford@uslsoccer.com

Reading United AC takes top spot in first edition of season's rankings

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Reading United AC, winner of the 2016 Mid Atlantic Division, takes the pole position in the first edition of the 2017 Eastern Conference Power Rankings.

While historically strong sides, such as Ocean City Nor'easters and the Carolina Dynamo, find their names in the initial top five, expansion side Wilmington Hammerheads FC also looks to make an impact in its first PDL season.

Led by Head Coach Kevin Johnson, Hammerheads FC has added many talented players to its roster, including 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Cam Lindley, for the upcoming season.

Reigning South Atlantic Division winners Charlotte Eagles, who also won the division title in 2015, have signed Lindsey Wilson College standout Mutaya Mwape for the 2017 campaign. The talented midfielder helped the Nor'easters win the Eastern Conference Championship in 2016 and then earned Mid-South Conference First Team honors after scoring 11 goals and providing seven assists during last year's college season.

Following a strong 2016 campaign, the Nor'easters have added multiple talented players in the hopes of repeat success. One of those players is Oklahoma Wesleyan University defender Nikola Fimic, who earned National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics First Team All-America honors in 2016.

Voted on by PDL staff, the preseason edition of the Eastern Conference Power Rankings are based on clubs' history and clubs' 2017 signings. The next edition of the Eastern Conference rankings will come out following Week 2 action.

Eastern Conference Top 5:

1. Reading United AC

First Game: Lehigh Valley United (7:30 p.m. ET, May 13)
Head Coach: Stephen Hogan
2016 PDL Record: 10-3-1
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2004, 2008-14, 2016
PDL Titles: Regular Season Champion (2009), Eastern Conference Champion (2008, 2010), Mid Atlantic Division Champion (2008-10, 2016)
Notable 2017 Signings: Jorge Guinovart (Midfielder, University of Rio Grande), Pablo Aguilar (Midfielder, University of Virginia), Hugo Delhommelle (Midfielder, Syracuse University)


2. Wilmington Hammerheads FC

First Game: Charlotte Eagles (7 p.m. ET, May 13)
Head Coach: Kevin Johnson
2016 PDL Record: N/A
PDL Playoffs Appearances: N/A
PDL Titles: N/A
Notable 2017 Signings: Cam Lindley (Midfielder, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Phillip Goodrum (Forward, University of North Carolina at Wilmington) Andrew Lawrence (Forward, University of North Carolina at Asheville)


3. Ocean City Nor'easters

First Game: Evergreen FC (7 p.m. ET, May 19)
Head Coach: John Thompson
2016 PDL Record: 9-5-0
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2004-05, 2007, 2009, 2012-13, 2016
PDL Titles: Eastern Conference Champions (2013, 2016), Northeast Division Champions (2004), Mid Atlantic Division Champions (2012-13)
Notable 2017 Signings: Nikola Fimic (Defender, Oklahoma Wesleyan University) Ignacio Tellechea (Forward/Midfielder, West Virginia University Institute of Technology), Fraser Colmer (Defender, Radford University)


4. Charlotte Eagles

First Game: Wilmington Hammerheads FC (7 p.m. ET, May 13)
Head Coach: Dave Dixon
2016 PDL Record: 11-2-1
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2015-16
PDL Titles: South Atlantic Division Champions (2015-16)
Notable 2017 Signings: James Pyle (Goalkeeper, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Mutaya Mwape (Midfielder, Lindsey Wilson College), Kelvin Omondi (Midfielder, John Brown University)


5. Carolina Dynamo

First Game: Tobacco Road FC (7 p.m. ET, May 13)
Head Coach: Tony Falvino
2016 PDL Record: 10-3-1
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2003-04, 2006-07, 2009, 2011-13, 2016
PDL Titles: PDL Championship Runners-Up (2012), Regular Season Champions (2006), Eastern Conference Champions (2004, 2012), Mid Atlantic Division Champions (2004), Southeast Division Champions (2007), South Atlantic Division Champions (2006, 2011-13)
Notable 2017 Signings: Jon Bakero (Forward/Midfielder, Wake Forest University), Ebenezar Kudolo (Midfielder, High Point University) Alec Smir (Goalkeeper, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


Honorable Mentions:

GPS Portland Phoenix

Jersey Express

Nashville SC U23


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Tag(s): Power Rankings  Eastern Conference  Northeast Division  GPS Portland Phoenix  Mid Atlantic Division  Jersey Express  Ocean City Nor'easters  Reading United AC  South Atlantic Division  Carolina Dynamo  Charlotte Eagles  Nashville SC U23  Wilmington Hammerheads FC