Dayton, May 11 2022
With the 2022 season about to kick off with Dayton Dutch Lions FC playing their home opener on May 14, we looked at what teams are playing in what league and what the expectations are for the season.
Dayton Dutch Lions FC - Dayton is entering their 13th season - with 2020 being canceled due to covid restrictions - with three teams: a men's team competing in USL League Two (4th tier), a women's team competing in WPSL (2nd tier) and a men's team (U19) competing in USL Academy. After a disappointing 2021 campaign for the men's team, there was a change of coaching staff. Hans Jurgen Pascoal is the new Head Coach with a familiar face returning as Assistant Coach: Jack Hermans. Hermans was part of founding the club and was Assistant Coach in the first six years of the club, five in USL Championship. Pascoal previously played at Xavier University at the time when Jack Hermans was the Head Coach at Xavier. Pacoal commented on the season: "I am looking forward to the challenge of providing an exciting brand of soccer to the community based on our principles of high press and good positional play. I am even more excited to work with Jack Hermans on my side as advisor and assistant. He has been instrumental in guiding me in my coaching path ever since he was my coach at Xavier University, and I took the first steps of coaching in his college course. I am looking forward to seeing a lot of fans, friends, and family at our games at DOC Stadium!”. Hermans had this to say on his return: “I really look forward to joining Dayton Dutch Lions FC again. Besides returning to the club where I worked for five years, I especially look forward to working closely with Hans Pascoal and be on the pitch with young talented players every day to develop them while implementing an exciting playing style”. The men's team will play 14 games. The women's team returns to the WPSL with a complete new team, with a lot of local young talents instead of some veteran college players in recent years. They play 8 league games. The USA Academy team will start in June and play 6 games against some of the top academies in the region such as Indy Eleven, Louisville FC, Kings Hammer and Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The coach for the 2022 season is James Fuller. All teams will play their home games at DOC Stadium at West Carrollton HS.
New York Dutch Lions FC - After four years of bringing a team of former Dutch National Team players to New York to play exhibition games, the club added a women's team this year that plays in the WPSL. The team does not start until June 3 and plays 8 games in the 2022 season. CEO Danny Dekker had this to say on the upcoming season: "We are still heavily focused on our recruitment so it's hard to say how good we really are. I do know we play in a very strong conference with some top teams so the first year will not be easy without an established women's team yet. But I am very confident to have a good group, and I am especially happy with our partnership with Long Island University (LIU). We have secured housing on campus for our players and the stadium we will play in is amazing."
Florida Gulf Coast Dutch Lions FC - After a disappointing 2021 season the club has recruited a whole new team with only one player returning from last year (Mckenna Sullivan). The recruitment announcements in recent weeks have shown a combination of a lot of local talents playing for ECNL club Florida West, combined with some D1 and D2 college players and three veteran players from Holland that played in the Premier League in Holland and Belgium. The Sunshine Conference has always been a strong conference with teams such as FC Surge (who have not lost a games since 2019), Team Boca Blast FC and Miami United FC. But after the first few days of training Coach Chris Palumbo said the talent is certainly there and the chemistry has been really good. The team is not playing their home games at Bishop Verot HS in Fort Myers this year due to maintenance. Instead they play at the beautiful Paradise Coast Sports Complex in Naples.
Miami Dutch Lions FC - Miami had a great inaugural season with their men's team in the NPSL in 2021. After a false start with the 2020 season being canceled they built a very strong team in 2021 that was in 1st place the majority of the season. They had a chance to win the Championship but unfortunately lost their last game. They did qualify for the play-offs but were eliminated in the first round. The team, coached by Robert Stoutenburg and Lucas Mortorana, is anxious to get started again: "We worked hard in the off season to recruit a good team again. We have a few players returning (including top goalkeeper Peter Wentzel), but we also have a lot of new guys and we have to wait and see how they do and adapt to our playing style. We also have two new teams that joined the Conference. Miami United FC and Naples FC always have strong teams playing all year round, and Central Florida Panthers will be a tough team as well." Same as last year, the team will play their home games at Milander Park. They play a total of 10 regular season games.
Washington Dutch Lions FC - Washington is defending their 2021 WPSL Conference Championship title. The 2021 season ended in a thriller with a 1-0 win in the Championship game vs SJEB FC. After the great inaugural season, coach Michel Vanderhart is looking to repeat that and qualify for the National Playoffs. He commented on the upcoming season: "We have a few new good players that came in for the season, but we also lost several good ones and one of our main players - Dakota Chan - who went on trial in the off season with Dutch Lions FC partner and Dutch Premier League club ADO Den Haag. And with the addition with Penn Fusion and Philadelphia Lone Star I think we have two new good teams in the Conference, besides the already strong Ospreys and SJEB FC." The team will play their home games at the new RFK Fields in Washington. They play a total of 8 regular season games.
Chicago Dutch Lions FC - Chicago has made a huge jump going from one team to three teams. Last year the women's team finished second in their Conference in the WPSL and they were awarded the Best Franchise of the Year Award for their Conference. In the off season they added a men's team that will be playing in USL league Two (4th tier) and another women's team playing in the new USA W League (2nd tier). CEO Nikhil Erlebach, also voted Best Coach in the Conference in the 2021 season had this to say on the upcoming season: "After a great 2021 season we have decided to expand the number of teams and give more players a chance to develop at a high level and provide a path to professional soccer opportunities, both on the women's and men's side. I know we will have our challenges competing at three levels, but I have a great group of people around me and we also have secured a partnership with Wheaton College for the season to play at their beautiful stadium."
SoCal Dutch Lions FC - SoCal Dutch Lions FC is the new name for the club that was called Oceanside Dutch Lions FC in 2021. The club has taken a more regional approach - hence the name change - and will play their home games at the beautiful Army and Navy Academy Stadium. Expectations are high with a strong recruiting process by GM Mario Fernandez and lead by an experienced coaching staff with former pro player Patricia Toledo, Madison McLean and Chelly Velasquez. The club was awarded the Best Franchise of the Year Award for their Conference and is looking to build on that. Fernandez commented on the upcoming season: "I believe we have added a lot of quality to the team this year, and should be able to compete with the top teams like San Diego Strikers. I am also extremely happy working with City SC in Carlsbad and our more regional reach, bringing in local players but also players that have played professional and top D1 schools. Combined with our experienced and very competent staff, I am very anxious to get started." The women's team will play 8 games in the 2022 season.
Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC - Cincinnati is taking a year off and look to return in USL League Two in 2023.
Houston Dutch Lions FC - Houston has a full focus on their Youth Academy and does not have a men's or women's team in 2022. A team might be added again in 2023.