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Central Conference Power Rankings: 2017 Preseason

05/03/2017, 1:45pm EDT
By AARON CRANFORD - aaron.cranford@uslsoccer.com

Michigan Bucks ranked No. 1; K-W United FC, Des Moines Menace among top five

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Reigning Premier Development League champions Michigan Bucks top the preseason edition of the 2017 Central Conference Power Rankings.

Led by Head Coach Demir Muftari, who was named 2016 PDL Coach of the Year, the Bucks once again boast a talented roster that includes many notable returnees. Defensive midfielder Bradley Dunwell, who helped the Bucks win the PDL Championship in 2016 and then played a major role in Wake Forest University's run to the NCAA College Cup Final, rejoins the Bucks for the 2017 campaign.

Great Lakes rival and 2015 PDL champion K-W United FC joins the Bucks in the preseason's rankings, while three Heartland Division teams round out the top five.

The Des Moines Menace, led by Head Coach John Pascarella, have multiple standouts joining them for the upcoming season, including University of Nebraska Omaha forward Elvir Ibisevic and Valparaiso University midfielder Isaiah Madrid – who finished the 2016 PDL campaign ranked No. 39 on the Top Prospects list after a strong season with Albuquerque Sol F.C.

Central Conference Top 5:

1. Michigan Bucks

First Game: K-W United FC (7:30 p.m. ET, May 13)
Head Coach: Demir Muftari
2016 PDL Record: 12-2-0
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 1996-2000, 2002-08, 2010-16
PDL Titles: PDL Champions (2006, 2014, 2016), Regular Season Champions (2000, 2008, 2012, 2015-16), Central Conference Champions (1997, 2000, 2006-07, 2014, 2016), North Central Division Champions (1997), Great Lakes Division Champions (1999-2000, 2003-04, 2007-08, 2010-12, 2014-16)
Notable 2017 Signings: Bradley Dunwell (Midfielder, Wake Forest University), Elliot Collier (Forward, Loyola University Chicago), Marco Charalambous (Midfielder, Butler University)


2. Des Moines Menace

First Game: WSA Winnipeg (7:30 p.m. CT, May 20)
Head Coach: John Pascarella
2016 PDL Record: 10-2-2
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 1995-98, 2001-03, 2005-06, 2009, 2011, 2014-16
PDL Titles: PDL Champions (2005), Regular Season Champions (2002, 2014), Central Conference Champions (2005), Heartland Division Champions (2002, 2009, 2014-16)
Notable 2017 Signings: Elvir Ibisevic (Forward, University of Nebraska Omaha), Isaiah Madrid (Midfielder, Valparaiso University), Ramone Howell (Midfielder, Valparaiso University)


3. Thunder Bay Chill

First Game: WSA Winnipeg (7 p.m. CT, June 3)
Head Coach: Giovanni Petraglia
2016 PDL Record: 7-2-5
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2007-13, 2015-16
PDL Titles: PDL Champions (2008), Central Conference Champions (2008, 2010-13), Heartland Division Champions (2007-08, 2010-13)
Notable 2017 Signings: Sullivan Oliveira Silva (Forward), Brandon Swartzendruber (Forward), Mitchell Osmond (Defender, Calumet College of St. Joseph)


4. Saint Louis FC U23

First Game: WSA Winnipeg (6 p.m. CT, May 23)
Head Coach: Kevin Stoll
2016 PDL Record: 3-8-3
PDL Playoffs Appearances: None
PDL Titles: None
Notable 2017 Signings: Anthony Brown (Forward, Saint Louis University), Keegan McHugh (Midfielder, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), Jake Buckle (Midfielder, Missouri State University)


5. K-W United FC

First Game: Michigan Bucks (7:30 p.m. ET, May 13)
Head Coach: Martin Painter
2016 PDL Record: 11-2-1
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2014-16
PDL Titles: PDL Champion (2015), Central Conference Champion (2015)
Notable 2017 Signings: Kamal Miller (Defender, Syracuse University), Mathieu Laurent (Defender, University of Alabama at Birmingham), Munir Saleh (Midfielder, University of Connecticut)


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Derby City Rovers

Chicago FC United

Cincinnati Dutch Lions


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Tag(s): NEWS  Power Rankings  Central Conference  Great Lakes Division  Cincinnati Dutch Lions  Derby City Rovers  K-W United FC  Michigan Bucks  Heartland Division  Chicago FC United  Des Moines Menace  Thunder Bay Chill  Saint Louis FC U23