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2016 PDL National Semifinals Preview

07/29/2016, 5:30pm EDT
By PDL Staff

Nor’easters welcome Foothills FC to Jersey; Bucks host Sockers FC in Michigan

The 2016 PDL National Semifinals are set, so let the games begin.

The Ocean City Nor’easters will play Calgary Foothills FC, Western Conference Championship winner, at 5 p.m. ET from the Tennessee Avenue Soccer Complex in Ocean City, New Jersey, in the first semifinal on Saturday. The Michigan Bucks will then host Midland/Odessa Sockers FC, winner of the Southern Conference Championship, at 7:30 p.m. ET from the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Michigan.

Nine players from the four semifinalists are ranked in the fifth edition of the 2016 PDL Top Prospects list, including Nor’easters star Chevaughn Walsh, Bucks playmaker Adam Najem and Foothills FC forward Dominic Russo.

Ocean City Nor'easters

Walsh, recently named to the 2016 PDL All-Eastern Conference Team, has been the go-to guy for the Nor’easters in 2016. The forward scored 14 goals – a league-high – in the regular season, and he has recorded two more, as well as two assists, in the PDL Playoffs. Walsh and the Eastern Conference Championship winners will host Foothills FC in the first semifinal on Saturday.

“I believe our combination of pace, athleticism, our ability to finish and team chemistry is unique and has been and will continue to be key to our success this season,” Nor’easters General Manager Kevin Nuss said.

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Calgary Foothills FC

Led by All-Western Conference Team selection Russo, Foothills FC looks to continue its PDL Playoffs win streak on the road. The Canadian club, competing in its second PDL season, will play the Nor’easters in New Jersey on Saturday.

“It has been an incredible underdog story for our team in only our second season as a PDL franchise,” Foothills FC Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said. “We wanted to join this league given the competitive nature of the teams and players involved ranging from full-time professionals to top NCAA players to Under-20 internationals. Winning the Northwest Division in itself was a great achievement given the strength of the clubs involved, notably Seattle Sounders U23 and Kitsap Pumas, both of whom have been final four entrants in the last few years. To then win the Western Conference Championship down in Tucson was another remarkable achievement, especially given the conditions and that FC Tucson have had a record season themselves.”

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Michigan Bucks

The Bucks boast more PDL Top Prospects than any other semifinalist with four, including forward Russell Cicerone and defender Alhassan Abubakar. The Central Conference Championship winners will host Sockers FC in the second semifinal on Saturday.

“We have assembled what may be the most talented team in PDL history as far as potential for future MLS players, and we have one of the best coaches in the country that has this team prepared for whatever team we face in the final four,” Bucks Owner Dan Duggan said.

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Midland/Odessa Sockers FC

Sockers FC is competing in its first PDL National Semifinals in team history after joining the league in 2009. Forward Bruno Henrique has shined in the regular season and in the PDL playoffs, scoring a combined eight goals for the only PDL team in Texas.

“I think we’ll reach the PDL Championship because of the unity of our team and the bond that our players have formed on and off the field,” Jeff VonHolle, Sockers FC co-owner, said. “We’ve got a tight bunch this season, and they play hard for one another. We aren’t full of a lot of big egos, and I have a sense that this group will do whatever it takes to obtain the objective of advancing to the PDL Championship.”

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