New England Soccer Today

A New Dawn

Boston Victory is one of three New England-based teams set to make their PDL debuts on Saturday. (Photo: Chris Aduama/

Few weekends in New England have brought about the promise that this one brings to regional soccer fans.

In two cities just under 100 miles apart, three regionally-based PDL teams will be authoring the latest chapter in the storied history of New England soccer.

At East Haven High School in New Haven, Conn., newcomers CFC Azul and Boston Victory will step onto the field for the first time at 7pm. Meanwhile, 98 miles northeast of Elm City, Worcester Hydra will make its debut against the Seacoast United Phantoms at Foley Stadium in Worcester, Mass at 7pm as well.

For CFC Azul, Saturday’s match marks the return of sanctioned soccer to the Nutmeg State ten years after the Connecticut Wolves last kicked it around in the A-League (now USL PRO). And in the hopes of making its first season one to remember, the team signed former Revolution midfielder/forward Ryan Kinne, who hails from nearby Hamden, Conn. in the hopes of reaching the top of the Northeast Division.

On the other side of the pitch at East Haven High School, Boston Victory is keen to commence its PDL debut months after it announced its intention to bring soccer back to the Hub. Following the path that the Beacons, Minutemen and Bulldogs blazed, the Victory hopes to regularly fill the stands at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy, Mass. with a host of local products on the field, including former Revolution midfielder Andrew Sousa.

Meanwhile, in the Heart of the Commonwealth, the Hydra hope to lay the foundation for higher aspirations. Months after it announced its intention to join PDL, owner Phong Le openly stated that it was his desire to build a soccer-specific stadium and have his squad join the MLS ranks in the future. Although it may be a lofty goal, the Hydra will aiming to build a strong fanbase in its inaugural campaign as a first step toward that end.

The official arrival of the trio to the PDL ranks follows months of aggressive marketing and social media promotion. The Victory set the tone by launching its “Join the Passion” campaign, which actively sought soccer fans to purchase season tickets and become a part of the team’s Sixth Brigade supporter group. Meanwhile, the Azul – which already has an established soccer academy – and the Hydra certainly did their part to spread the gospel of their respective brands through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Of course, its one thing to create buzz. It’s another thing entirely to sustain it. But working the favor of the three debutantes is a refreshing level of cooperation among them. All three have used social media to not only promote its own brand, but to highlight their cohorts, as well. In essence, all three are working for the greater good of the sport in New England.

The launches of the Azul, Victory and Hydra all mark the dawn of a new era in the region’s soccer lore on Saturday. And it’s only fitting that both of Saturday’s matches kick off at 7pm – as if all three are taking the first step toward the future together.

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