USL PRO 2014 Schedule Announced

Inter-league games vs. MLS Reserves featured in 210-game slate
USL PRO News Release

Thursday, January 30, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO announced its 2014 regular season format and schedule today, with each of its 14 clubs playing a 28-game regular season schedule opening on March 22 and concluding on September 7. As the league enters the second season of its groundbreaking partnership with MLS, every USL PRO squad will once again play a pair of regular season games vs. MLS Reserve teams.

Three new teams have joined USL PRO in 2014: the LA Galaxy II, OKC Energy FC and Sacramento Republic FC. Expansion teams in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Tulsa, Oklahoma have been added for 2015, with more announcements in the near future. Antigua Barracuda FC and VSI Tampa Bay FC will not return in 2014.

2014 USL PRO Games to Watch

3/22 – Charleston Battery vs. Orlando City – Defending champions open their final season in USL PRO on the road against the 2012 champion.
3/22 – LA Galaxy II vs. Los Angeles Blues – The first MLS-run club in USL PRO makes its debut at home to its cross-town rival.
3/29 – LA Galaxy II vs. Sacramento Republic FC – The Republic make their first appearance as they make the trip down the coast to Southern California.
4/5 – Los Angeles Blues vs. OKC Energy FC – The Energy and Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen begin their inaugural season on the west coast.
4/12 – Phoenix FC Wolves vs. OKC Energy FC – The Wolves’ home opener at the Peoria Sports Complex sees the Energy come to town.
4/26 – OKC Energy FC vs. Orlando City – The two affiliates of Sporting Kansas City meet in the Energy’s inaugural home opener at Pribil Field.
4/26 – Sacramento Republic FC vs. Harrisburg City Islanders – The Republic welcome the City Islanders for their inaugural home opener at the Cal Expo.
5/9 – Charleston Battery vs. Wilmington Hammerheads FC – Viewers north of the border will have an eye on Blackbaud Stadium as the affiliates of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC face off.
5/21 – Orlando City vs. Charlotte Eagles – A rematch of the 2013 USL PRO Championship game, the Eagles visit Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex to take on the Lions.
6/14 – Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – The Keystone Derby concludes with three games between the Pennsylvania rivals set for the month of June.
6/14 – OKC Energy FC vs. Sacramento Republic FC – Two of USL PRO’s expansion franchises meet for the first time, with a return fixture set for California on August 9.
7/4 – Sacramento Republic FC vs. Los Angeles Blues – The Republic host their first Fourth of July contest as their California rival visits the Cal Expo.
7/19 – Richmond Kickers vs. Charleston Battery – One of the oldest rivalries in U.S. soccer continues as the Battery visit City Stadium in the 22nd season for both clubs.
8/9 – Wilmington Hammerheads FC vs. Dayton Dutch Lions – The Hammerheads host the Dutch Lions in what could be a key game for playoff position down the stretch.
8/23 – Rochester Rhinos vs. Harrisburg City Islanders – The City Islanders visit the Rhinos in what has become a premier rivalry within USL PRO.
9/6 – Orlando City vs. Richmond Kickers – The top two finishers from the 2013 regular season meet on the final weekend of the season.

USL PRO will once again feature a single-table format.

2014 USL PRO Table (link)

Charleston Battery
Charlotte Eagles
Dayton Dutch Lions
Harrisburg City Islanders
LA Galaxy II
Los Angeles Blues
OKC Energy FC
Orlando City SC
Phoenix FC Wolves
Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Richmond Kickers
Rochester Rhinos
Sacramento Republic FC
Wilmington Hammerheads FC

The 2014 USL PRO Playoffs will include the top eight finishers in the table, with the quarterfinals (No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, etc.) set for the weekend of September 12-14. The semifinals featuring the four remaining teams will be played the following weekend, with the 2014 USL PRO Championship set for the weekend of September 26-28. All playoff rounds feature a single-game knockout format and teams will not be re-seeded following each round.

Each of the 14 USL PRO teams will compete in two inter-league games against MLS Reserve League opponents.  With eight teams remaining in the MLS Reserve League, a geographically influenced unbalanced schedule will be in place for interleague games.  All inter-league games will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings.

The interleague schedule gets underway on Sunday, March 30, when the Phoenix FC Wolves travel to face the Colorado Rapids Reserves at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and the Dayton Dutch Lions travel to face the New York Red Bulls Reserves at Red Bull Arena.

Every USL PRO game in 2014 will stream live for free via YouTube, the largest global video sharing site. Live games and on-demand content will be available on each team’s YouTube channel, with archived games available shortly after each game’s completion. The USL PRO YouTube channel will showcase all of the archived and on-demand content produced by each team, including the USL PRO Goal of the Week as well as USL PRO Weekly, an audio podcast that uncovers the personalities throughout the league. Please visit http://www.uslsoccer.com/connect for links to each USL PRO account.

2014 USL PRO Schedule

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Orange County Local Jon Spencer hired as Blues General Manager

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

FULLERTON, Calif. — The Los Angeles Blues are pleased to announce the hiring of Jon Spencer as the club’s new General Manager. Spencer brings a wealth of experience, including as a key figure with former PDL club the Orange County Blue Star, which saw a number of recent top MLS players come through its ranks over the years.

We sat down with Spencer to discuss his new role, and his vision for the Blues as they prepare for the 2014 USL PRO season.

Q: What did you do previously?
A: I joined the Blues in 2013, primarily to evaluate the club. I was previously GM and manager of the Orange County Blue Star of the PDL. I also currently coach Servite High School in Anaheim.

Q: What enticed you about joining the Blues organization?
A: I’ve been involved in professional soccer for about 6 years in the scouting and managing side, evaluating players and seeing their potential. While managing the OC Blue Star, I gained a lot of experience on how the Orange County market works and its potential. I ran into Ali Mansouri, the owner, at the 2013 MLS All-Star Game and told him he has great opportunity to build something in Orange County that can be a long standing professional team recognized internationally. I felt intrigued. There is a niche the Blues can hold in the U.S. soccer market and specifically in Southern California. We obviously have two professional clubs, LA Galaxy and Chivas USA, but I feel that this club could establish itself as a developing club to the top tier in MLS, but at the same time also be attractive to international clubs.

Q: What are your goals for the Blues?
A: First and foremost, we want to win the championship this year. I’m hoping that we can put a top product on the field that can a win a championship. We also want to create a niche as a club, and be recognized for being able to develop players. I want MLS and other leagues to be able to identify the talent as we help them progress in their career.

Q: What excites you about the Blues playing in Orange County?
A: I have a long history here. I went to school at UC Irvine. After graduating, I played in Kansas City for a bit, also played a season with the Orange County Blue Star. During that time many  famous players, some who are still playing today were on the team. I was the midfielder, Jurgen Klinsmann played on the team, Matt Taylor , who currently plays in Germany, Robbie Rogers was about 16 years old, and a number of other guys. I have a passion for talent in Orange County. We are very rich in youth development, and a lot of top national team players have come through Orange County and Southern California. I love the beach and the weather. There is an opportunity to create a club that is recognized not only here in Orange County, but nationally and internationally as well.

Q: What characteristics do you value most when signing new players?
A: We’re definitely  looking for players who are trying to progress in their career. We want to be a club that’s young and energetic, but full of potential, and able to reach that potential throughout the season.

Q: What do you expect from the starting line-up?
A: We’re going to have a mix of some USL PRO veterans, some guys that have MLS experience, and some up-and-coming players who will hopefully be playing at a much higher level in the future. I expect that we’ll be able to compete with anyone.

Q: Can you describe how you and Coach Yazdani will work together throughout the season?
A: Coach Daryoush Yazdani joined the coaching staff midway through last season, so I’m excited that he will start from scratch with a pre-season this year. He’s really adamant about seeing our team grow. We identified a few areas where we felt we could improve, and he’s really excited about being able to implement that going into this season. We both want  our team to compete for a championship this year.

Q: Anything you’d like to say to the fans?
A: We hope that our fans are able to come enjoy a great family atmosphere, watch some entertaining soccer, and see our team compete for a USL PRO championship. We want to have a professional soccer environment in Orange County. Our club is going show the world  that Orange County has a viable, strong, fun, professional soccer club.

Our club has made a lot of exciting new developments. I’m very excited about our new brand, and what we’re going to bring in 2014. We want to make the steps in Orange County to be a home for people who want to watch professional soccer in their backyard, we want to the place that they want to go. Hope everyone comes out and watches us play!

USL PRO Games to be streamed live on YouTube

All games, on-demand content available free for fans on league and team channels

usl-pro

TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO is pleased to announce that every USL PRO regular season and playoff game will stream live on YouTube starting in 2014 via team channels. The largest global video sharing site, YouTube will allow fans worldwide to follow every moment of action during the USL PRO season.

Being a part of the YouTube Partner Program will allow USL PRO greater flexibility in content management while YouTube’s visibility and comprehensive structure will present USL PRO fans with a set of interactive features like never before. Live games and on-demand content will be available for free on each team’s YouTube channel, with archived games available shortly after each game’s completion.

“Online streaming is a vital component of the growth of the league,” USL President Tim Holt said. “YouTube eliminates barriers that previously stood between fans and the action on the field. We want fans worldwide to take notice of the high quality of play in USL PRO and see the importance of the league in the North American soccer landscape. YouTube makes this process much easier and we’re thrilled to have this relationship.”

The USL PRO YouTube channel will showcase all of the archived and on-demand content produced by each team, including the USL PRO Goal of the Week as well as USL PRO Weekly, an audio podcast that will uncover the personalities behind the league.

Some of the features YouTube Live will present to fans during live games include DVR, chat, full HD support, and social media interactivity. Fans are encouraged to subscribe for free to the team-specific YouTube channels. Please visit http://www.uslsoccer.com/connect for links to each USL PRO account.

YouTube Quick Facts

  • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
  • More than six billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube – almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50 percent more than last year
  • Approximately 40 percent of all YouTube viewing happens on mobile devices
  • More than one billion unique viewers visit YouTube each month