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Western Conference Power Rankings: 2017 Preseason

05/04/2017, 1:00pm EDT
By AARON CRANFORD - aaron.cranford@uslsoccer.com

Foothills FC takes the top spot; Fuego, Tucson among teams in top five

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Calgary Foothills FC, PDL Runner-Up in 2016, tops the preseason edition of the Western Conference Power Rankings.

Many of the standouts from last year's Foothills FC squad have returned for the 2017 PDL campaign, including forwards Dominic Russo and Ajeej Sarkaria. Russo finished the 2016 season with PDL All-Western Conference Team honors and was a finalist for the PDL MVP award. Sarkaria played a major role in Foothills FC's run to the PDL Championship last year, and he then caught fire in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association, claiming 2016 Canada West Men’s Soccer Player of the Year honors after setting the conference single-season scoring record with 19 goals.

A couple the Fresno Fuego's star players in 2016 have moved on to the professional ranks, but the club still boasts a strong roster. University of Virginia defender Sergi Nus, ranked as the No. 9 PDL defender in college during November, is set to lead the Fuego's back line in 2017.

FC Tucson, led by Head Coach Jon Pearlman, has plenty of firepower at its disposal in 2017. Talented forwards, such as the University of Louisville's Tate Schmitt and the University at Albany's Afonso Pinheiro, will look to lead Tucson a fourth consecutive PDL division title.

The Sounders FC U23, led by Head Coach Darren Sawatzky, and FC Golden State Force round out the top five in the Western Conference. While the Sounders U23 have proven PDL talents on their roster for the 2017 season, the Force have added a handful of players to watch as well. Kevin Silva, who plays for the U.S. Under-19 National Team and the University of California, Los Angeles, is one of the notable players set to suit up for the Force this season.

Western Conference Top 5:

1. Calgary Foothills FC

First Game: TSS FC Rovers (7 p.m. MDT, May 5)
Head Coach: Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
2016 PDL Record: 8-3-3
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2016
PDL Titles: PDL Runner-Up (2016), Western Conference Champion (2016), Northwest Division Champion (2016)
Notable 2017 Signings: Dominic Russo (Forward, University of Calgary), Ajeej Sarkaria (Forward, University of Alberta), Elijah Adekugbe (Midfielder, Trinity Western University)


2. Fresno Fuego

First Game: Burlingame Dragons FC (7:30 p.m. PT, May 6)
Head Coach: Brian Zwaschka
2016 PDL Record: 10-3-1
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2003-05, 2007-08, 2011, 2013, 2016
PDL Titles: PDL Regular Season Champions (2011), Western Conference Champions (2004, 2007), Southwest Division Champions (2003, 2007, 2011, 2013), Central Pacific Division Champions (2016)
Notable 2017 Signings: Sergi Nus (Defender, University of Virginia), Joaquin Miralles (Goalkeeper, Clemson University), Jose Cuevas (Forward/Midfielder)


3. FC Tucson

First Game: BYU Cougars (8 p.m. MDT, May 5)
Head Coach: Jon Pearlman
2016 PDL Record: 11-1-2
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2012, 2014-16
PDL Titles: Southwest Division Champion (2016), Mountain Division Champion (2014-15)
Notable 2017 Signings: Tate Schmitt (Forward, University of Louisville), Daniel Musovski (Forward, University of Nevada, Las Vegas), Afonso Pinheiro (Forward, University at Albany)


4. Sounders FC U23

First Game: Portland Timbers U23 (7:30 p.m. PT, May 19)
Head Coach: Darren Sawatzky
2016 PDL Record: 8-6-0
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2007-08, 2012, 2015-16
PDL Titles: Western Conference Champions (2012, 2015), Northwest Division Champions (2008, 2012)
Notable 2017 Signings: Macauley King (Defender, Young Harris College), Paul Christensen (Goalkeeper, University of Portland), Nathan Aune (Defender, Seattle University)


5. FC Golden State Force

First Game: San Francisco City FC (7 p.m. PT, May 5)
Head Coach: Robert Friedland
2016 PDL Record: 8-4-2
PDL Playoffs Appearances: 2016
PDL Titles: None
Notable 2017 Signings: Mark Verso (Forward, California Polytechnic State University), Jose Carrera-Garcia (Midfielder, University of California, Berkeley), Kevin Silva (Goalkeeper, University of California, Los Angeles)


Honorable Mentions:

Burlingame Dragons FC

Lane United FC

Ventura County Fusion


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Tag(s): NEWS  Power Rankings  Western Conference  Mountain  Burlingame Dragons FC  Fresno Fuego  Northwest Division  Calgary Foothills FC  Lane United FC  Sounders FC U23  Southwest Division  FC Golden State Force  FC Tucson   Ventura County Fusion