New England Soccer Today

PDL Roundup: Phoenix’s French Connection, Rams Grow, a Phantom Captain & More

While the Revolution’s form is fizzling at the top of the American soccer pyramid, New England itself is electric at the bottom as more and more Premier Development League clubs prepare to launch in less than a month.

Announcements vary from major player commitments to clubs – including the GPS Portland Phoenix, Boston Rams, and CFC Azul – to achievement recognition, as Seacoast United Phantom Ryan Dunn has been named captain of the Boston College Eagles for his final collegiate season.

The Portland-French Connection

Starting in Maine, the Phoenix have remained true to form in adding a number of international players to their roster as they do every year, only now with a larger emphasis on younger prospects.

“(Last year) we had a number of older players who had experience with pro soccer teams in Europe,” said Phoenix General Manager Alistair Bain in an earlier interview regarding Portland’s preseason goals.

“This year, we’ve switched our focus to taking on younger players.”

With the additions of backfielders Jonathon Lupinelli and Gilbert Manier (both 23), forward Pierre Omanga (24), and defender Clement Bompart (24), Portland’s definitely meeting its youth quota.

Hailed as a “French Connection” on the Phoenix website, of the four internationals, three boast time spent in the French system with Lupinelli playing for Ligue 1’s F.C. Girondins de Bordeaux and Manier with Stade Rennais F.C. while Bompart competed in the lower leagues with clubs such as Narbonne and the Aviron Bayonnais FC reserves (Bayonne B).

The Herd Grows

Moving down I-95 to Easton, Mass., The Reál Boston Rams have also added a number of internationals to their ranks for 2013. Among them is English-born Paul Latif, Tokyo native Kento Nakamura, and Cape Verdean Danielson Ferreira.

Each adds key components to the Rams’ inaugural roster, whether it’s Latif’s versatility as a midfielder/winger/forward and experience (veteran of Wallsend Boys Club, Franklin Pierce, and Boston Victory SC), Nakamura’s reliability as a core player who started in all of his matches at Tufts University, or Ferreira’s all-around skills that, according to Boston’s press release, “impressed not only the Rams coaches and staff but also the Revolution coaches on hand” during his tryout in March.

Phantom’s Dunn Made Captain

Moving back up I-95 to Portsmouth, N.H., big news hit Seacoast United when Boston College announced Phantom vet Ryan Dunn had been made captain of the Boston College men’s soccer team for his final season.

“As far as soccer goes, it’s a huge honor to have been named captain for my senior year, especially at a program that is sending players to the pros every year,” said Dunn in a Seacoast press release.

According to the Phantoms, Dunn has been with the program since he was ten and has contributed to the club every year since, including this upcoming PDL season.

Azul’s Bring Back Five and New Zealander

And last, but certainly not least, CFC Azul looks to capitalize on the formula that put nearly earned them a playoff berth last season by announcing the return of several key players from the 2012 roster, as well as new comer and New Zealand national player, Jonny Raj.

Raj comes to Azul on the heels of graduating from Fairfield University, where he played as a defender for four years, winning multiple awards and tournaments including the 2012 MAAC regular-season and tournament titles.

He also has time spent with the Chicago Fire’s PDL U-23 team as a captain in 2011 before moving on to Reading United AC in 2012, the same club Sporting Kansas City’s C.J. Sapong and Vancouver Whitecaps’ Corey Hertzog played for during their time in the system.

Meanwhile, rejoining with Azul defender Pat Boucher (who recommitted earlier this year) are midfielders Paul Templeton, Jesse Menzies, Mario DiMiceli, Sony Narro, and forward Steve Obasi.

When combined, the five accounted for 8 of the 24 goals Azul scored in 2012 as well as 51 shots.

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