PDL 2015 Season Preview: Northeast Division

PDL 2015 Season Preview: Northeast Division

After the final release of the 2015 USL PDL schedule we are now one step closer to capturing a full picture of what this year will have to offer.  The Northeast Division is looking significantly different than it did during the 2014 campaign, as the division is now comprised of only five teams.  The Westchester Flames moved to the stacked Mid Atlantic Division, while the Vermont Voltage and Montreal Impact U23 teams both folded.  Take a look at the 2014 final standings below:

  1. Seacoast United Phantoms    11-2-1
  2. Connecticut FC Azul                 9-3-2
  3. Western Mass Pioneers          8-2-4
  4. Montreal Impact U-23s          7-2-5
  5. Real Boston Rams                   6-2-6
  6. GPS Phoenix Maine                4-1-9
  7. Westchester Flames               2-2-10
  8. Vermont Voltage                      0-4-10

The conference will hold three Lamar Hunt USOC spots for the 2015 tournament.  Seacoast United Phantoms will qualify as they are last year’s divisional champions, while AC Connecticut and Western Mass Pioneers both qualify due to point accumulation throughout all of the USL PDL season.   The Boston Rams and GPS Portland Phoenix should not be taken lightly moving into 2015 either.

The five teams will play a 14 game schedule throughout the months of May, June and July with the division winner moving onto the USL PDL national playoffs.  All Northeast teams will play each other at least twice with home and away games, and a few matches against teams from the Mid Atlantic Division as well.

Take a look at the breakdown of the division:

Conn

AC Connecticut:  The team formerly known as CFC Azul are set to take on the PDL for their fourth season after finishing in a franchise best 2nd place.  AC Connecticut also found success in the playoffs as well, making it through to the Eastern Conference Championship (losing to semi-finalist Jersey Express 2-0). The team qualified for the USOC on overall points in the 2014 season.  In September of 2014, CFC Azul announced a name change citing new ownership and interest in community involvement as the driving factor.  To match the new name, AC Connecticut also announced Shaun Bailey as new head coach for the 2015 season. Bailey comes from an extensive player and coaching background in England, and has been previously working in Connecticut developing soccer talent as well.

Home Opener: May 23rd vs. Seacoast United Phantoms
Key Matchup:  July 3rd @ Western Mass Pioneers

Portland

GPS Portland Phoenix: Despite a subpar 2014 season, GPS have been very dominant since their inception in 2010.  The team looks to bounce back to their dominant ways in 2015.  If history is any indication, the squad should be ready to do so.  Up until 2014 the team had never finished as low as 2nd place.  GPS will call Deering High School home for the fifth consecutive year with Coach Alistair Bain.

Home Opener: May 16th vs. Seacoast United Phantoms
Key Matchup:  June 19th @ AC Connecticut

Rams

Boston Rams:  The Boston Rams are returning for their third year to the Northeast Division after finishing mid-table in 2014 under the helm of head coach, Hobie Hare.  Despite the name change, the Rams hope to be as REAL as ever.  Hare brings with him an impressive coaching pedigree, coaching at Tufts, UMASS and Florida Gulf Coast.  In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Hare has been appointed the General Manager of the club.

With Hare’s increased involvement of the overall vision of the club, the Rams will be up for the challenge of another difficult season and will be ready to make the PDL playoffs for the first time.  When the PDL schedule was released, the Rams had not finalized their home venue.

Home Opener: May 16th vs. AC Connecticut
Key Matchup: July 10th @ Western Mass Pioneers

Phantoms

Seacoast United Phantoms:  Seacoast United were red hot in 2014, and held the league’s longest winning streak with 10 consecutive wins (June 8th – July 19th). Seacoast finished in first place for the first time since entering the PDL in 2008.  Coach Iain Scott is looking forward to participating in the 102nd edition of U.S Soccer’s oldest and most prestigious national cup competition: the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time in club history.  Scott and company are confident going into 2015 and will be looking to replicate the success of last year.  When the PDL schedule was released all of Seacoast’s home matches were listed as TBA – a very typical scenario at this level.

Home Opener: May 10 vs. Boston Rams  
Key Matchup(s): May 23rd @ AC Connecticut/ May 24th @ Boston Rams

Pioneers

Western Mass Pioneers:  Founded in 1997, the Western Mass Pioneers have been a cornerstone of amateur soccer in Massachusetts.  The Pioneers are a team deeply rooted in their community, tucked away in quaint Ludlow, MA.  The Pioneers play their games at Lusitano Stadium which was built in 1918.  We highly recommend making the trek out to Ludlow- the last time we were present was during last year’s Open Cup.  The Pioneers recently welcomed former player Dennis Gomes as coach to enter their 5th season in the PDL (18th overall).  The squad are also chomping at the bit to enter the Lamar Hunt Open Cup – qualifying on overall points in the 2014 PDL season.  This year will mark the 9th time this club has achieved an Open Cup berth.  In addition to fielding this PDL team, they also have a semi-professional team participating in the American Soccer League.

Home Opener: May 22nd vs. GPS Portland Phoenix
Key Matchup(s): July 1st @ Seacoast United Phantoms/ July 3rd vs AC Connecticut

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