The Michigan Bucks were announced as the host for the 2014 PDL Championship presented by Nike as the Central Conference Champions will welcome the Jersey Express, Kitsap Pumas and Ocala Stampede to the Ultimate Soccer Arenas this weekend, August 1-3.
Friday’s semifinals will see the Western Conference champion Kitsap Pumas face the Southern Conference champion Ocala Stampede in the first semifinal at 5 p.m. ET, while the host Bucks will face the Eastern Conference champion Jersey Express at 7:30 p.m. ET. The semifinal pairings were based on regular-season records.
The 2014 PDL Championship Game between the two semifinal winners will be held on Sunday, August 3 at 1 p.m. ET.
Michigan earned its first conference championship since 2007 - when the Bucks reached the PDL Championship Game - with a 2-0 victory against the PDL regular-season champion Des Moines Menace on Saturday night. David Goldsmith had both goals for the Bucks in the opening 25 minutes to send his side through to this weekend’s semifinals, while PDL Golden Boot winner Dzenan Catic scored twice in the Bucks’ 3-1 conference semifinal victory against the St. Louis Lions.
The Bucks will face an Express side that finished the regular season with the best record of the four remaining sides. The Express had the most prolific attack in the PDL this season as they averaged more than three goals per game, and earned a 3-1 victory against the West Virginia Chaos on Sunday in the Eastern Conference Championship behind a pair of goals by Kene Eze.
The Kitsap Pumas return to the national semifinals for the first time since they claimed the first title in club history in 2011 after they took an emphatic 3-0 victory against FC Tucson on Saturday night. The Pumas needed a penalty shootout to get to the Western Conference Championship as they took a dramatic victory against the Ventura County Fusion in the conference semifinals. Kitsap rallied from a two-goal deficit to send the game to extra time tied 2-2, and after both sides found the net in the extra 30 minutes, the Pumas’ Matt Grosey made a pair of saves to send his side through.
Kitsap will face an Ocala Stampede side making its first appearance at the PDL Championship after it defeated defending champion the Austin Aztex for the Southern Conference Championship. The Stampede have won the Southeast Division in each of their first three seasons but finally claimed their first playoff victory this past weekend, and then stunned the Aztex on their home turf as Karamba Janneh had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 victory on Sunday.
All three games of the 2014 PDL Championship presented by Nike will be streamed live on the PDL’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/USLPDL), with live updates also available through the league’s official Twitter account (@USLPDL).
The 2014 PDL All-Conference Teams (Monday), All-League Team (Tuesday) and Award Finalists (Wednesday) will be announced this week, with the league’s award winners to be named as part of this weekend’s events at the Championship Luncheon on Saturday afternoon.
PDL: The proven developmental leader in North American soccer's evolving tiered structure, the PDL features 64 teams within four conferences throughout the United States and Canada, including 12 teams affiliated with USL PRO or Major League Soccer clubs. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with 70 percent of all MLS draftees having PDL experience. The PDL season consists of 14 regular season matches for each team, seven home and seven away, and provides elite collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions.