"Exciting brand of soccer with some really talented players"
While FC Cincinnati are reaping the benefits of an impressive marketing campaign, Nippert Stadium, and John Harkes and his men, there is another soccer team in Cincinnati. Before the arrival of the new USL club there were two clubs, Cincinnati Dutch Lions (CDL) and Cincinnati Saints, both in different leagues of the fourth tier of American soccer. Feeling the pressure of a new pro team in town, both organizations moved out of downtown Cincinnati, the Saints heading north and becoming Dayton Dynamo while the Dutch Lions moved from Xavier to Mason. Not to add to the confusion but there is another Dutch Lions team in the area, Dayton Dutch Lions. They are both part of a larger corporation that was founded by Mike Mossel, a Xavier grad, and that has franchises around the country and focuses on developing players to become professionals.
The CDL originally announced themselves in the city by having Ballon d'Or winner Ruud Gullit at their first match in 2014. They play in USL PDL (same organization as FCC's USL) and have finished second in their division both years. The club made the playoffs for the first time last year, qualifying them for the US Open Cup. This cup is a knockout tournament involving all the levels of the US Soccer pyramid, starting with amateurs and slowly working upward. It is the third oldest continuously running soccer tournament in the world. The Dutch Lions first match this year is the first round of the Cup against Indy Eleven NPSL. What makes this match extra exciting is the winner will play FC Cincinnati in Nippert on Wednesday May 18, potentially the first Cincinnati Derby. From there the NASL clubs and then the MLS clubs will be added to a standard knockout bracket.
CDL's core group from last season is returning for the current season, except for the four that signed for USL sides this season (Oriel Cortes - OCB, Alejandro Garcia - Orlando City B, & Eric Osswald - Real Monarchs), and they've added 5 players from UC, 5 from Xavier, 5 internationals (so far), as well as 3 local kids from open try-outs. Since their move to Mason they are looking to engage area soccer families and high school fans from the northern half of Cincinnati who are interested in good football as well as a sense of community. A few of the players on the team even went to Mason High School. The final Dutch Lion player to sign for a USL side was Kyle Smith, who FCC fans might remember as the fullback who got the assist for Chandler Hoffman's second goal in Louisville City's 3-2 win over FCC.
When I asked about the the relationship between the two Cincinnati clubs, Ric Campbell the Director of Operations mentioned the Dutch Lions five percent ownership stake in FCC but also stated that while they would like to support FCC, they also have their own identity. He went on to say that a future partnership between the clubs that would allow Dutch Lions to develop players closer to home that could eventually end up with FCC.
In the larger Ohio sense, the Dutch Lions will also be playing against Columbus Crew development side a few times this summer.
For the hardcore soccer fan, the schedules for CDL and FCC don't conflict so they're definitely worth checking out. If you live closer to the Northside of town, they might even become your preferred team to watch.
Facts & Links:
First Match - 5/11 7pm - US Open Cup First Round, Indy Eleven NPSL at Grand Park, Westfield, IN - Audio Stream
First Home Match - TFC Academy - Thursday May 26, 7pm , $5-$8 per ticket
- League - USL PDL - Central Conference - Great Lakes Division w/ Dayton Dutch Lions, Derby City Rovers (Louisville), K-W United FC (Waterloo, Ontario), Michigan Bucks, Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23, TFC Academy (Toronto)
- Stadium - Mason High School Multi-purpose Field, Capacity - 1200
- Head Coach - Terry Nicholl
- 2016 Schedule
- Social - Web, FB, Twitter, Instagram
- 2015 Results - 2nd in the Conference in Regular Season, First Round of Playoffs