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Southern Conference Power Rankings: 2017 Preseason

05/02/2017, 11:45am EDT
By AARON CRANFORD - aaron.cranford@uslsoccer.com

SIMA Aguilas take the top spot; Energy U23, Brilla FC among top five

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Premier Development League expansion side SIMA Aguilas have been ranked No. 1 in the preseason edition of the 2017 Southern Conference Power Rankings.

The Aguilas, led by Head Coach Mike Potempa, boast a strong roster ahead of their first season of PDL play. Among the many talented players included on Potempa's roster are Clemson University standouts Diego Campos and Malick Mbaye. Campos earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference Second Team honors in 2016, while Mbaye was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team.

SIMA is not the only expansion side to feature in the preseason edition of the power rankings, as the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23 take the third spot ahead of the season. Forward Arion Sobers-Assue, who earned All-Atlantic Sun Conference First Team honors after a stellar season with Florida Gulf Coast University in 2016, headlines the Rowdies U23's roster heading into the season.

The OKC Energy U23, winners of the Mid South Division in 2016, begin the 2017 campaign at No. 2 overall. Noah Keats and Josh Taylor, who both earned PDL All-Southern Conference Team honors in 2016, return to the club, while 2016 PDL Young Player of the Year Sven König joins them. König scored 12 goals and provided one assist for K-W United FC last season.

Rounding out the top five teams in the Southern Conference are The Villages SC and Mississippi Brilla FC. PDL All-Southern Conference Team selection Carlos Araujo returns to lead the Buffalo, who won the 2016 Southeast Division. Brilla FC Head Coach Mark McKeever will also have talented players at his disposal in 2017, including midfielder Thibaut Bourrier – who earned All-Mountain East Conference Second Team honors after a strong season with Urbana University in 2016.

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

Southern Conference Top 5:

1. SIMA Aguilas

First Game: The Villages SC (7 p.m. ET, May 13)
Head Coach: Mike Potempa
2016 PDL Record: N/A
PDL Playoffs Appearances: N/A
PDL Titles: N/A
Notable 2017 Signings: Diego Campos (Forward, Clemson University), Malick Mbaye (Defender, Clemson University), Bruno Lapa (Midfielder, Wake Forest University)


2. OKC Energy U23

First Game: FC Cleburne (7 p.m. CT, May 13)
Head Coach: Chris Spendlove
2016 PDL Record: 10-3-1
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2016
PDL Titles: Mid South Division Champions (2016)
Notable 2017 Signings: Sven König (Forward, Hawaii Pacific University), Josh Taylor (Midfielder, St. Edward's University), Noah Keats (Midfielder, University of the Incarnate Word Athletics)


3. Tampa Bay Rowdies U23

First Game: Weston FC (7 p.m. ET, May 27)
Head Coach: Keith Fulk
2016 PDL Record: N/A
PDL Playoffs Appearances: N/A
PDL Titles: N/A
Notable 2017 Signings: Arion Sobers-Assue (Forward, Florida Gulf Coast University), Noah Franke (Midfielder, Creighton University), Kamar Marriott (Midfielder, Florida Gulf Coast University)


4. The Villages SC

First Game: SIMA Aguilas (7 p.m. ET, May 13)
Head Coach: Anderson DaSilva
2016 PDL Record: 9-3-2
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2016
PDL Titles: Southeast Division Champions (2016)
Notable 2017 Signings: Carlos Araujo (Forward), Heitor De Melo (Defender, University of Rio Grande) Jeremy Bonyaa (Defender, Lee University)


5. Mississippi Brilla FC

First Game: Peachtree City MOBA (7:30 p.m. ET, May 20)
Head Coach: Mark McKeever
2016 PDL Record: 4-6-4
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2009-11, 2015
PDL Titles: Mid South Division Champions (2015), Southeast Division Champions (2009-11)
Notable 2017 Signings: Chakib Hocine (Defender), Thomas Vancaeyezeele (Defender, University of Charleston), Thibaut Bourrier (Midfielder, Urbana University)


Honorable Mentions:

Brazos Valley Cavalry F.C.

South Florida Surf

FC Miami City


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Tag(s): NEWS  Power Rankings  Southern Conference  Mid South Division  Mississippi Brilla FC  OKC Energy U23  Southeast Division  The Villages SC  Tampa Bay Rowdies U23  SIMA Aguilas