|South Jersey Soccer:
Ocean City Barons Open 2005 Campaign on the Road
Friday, February 25, 2005
By Paul O'Donnell
United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League 2005 schedule was released today, Feb. 25th. "We are excited for the start of the 2005 season after the outstanding campaign last year,” said PDL Director of Operations Steve Clamp. “Heading into its 17th season, the league is still growing on and off the field and providing many wonderful stories for the fans.”
The Ocean City Barons feature home grown stars and Ocean City High School graduates Ryan Carr (Univ of Hartford) and Richard Baker along with many other players from South Jersey communities and area colleges such as Drexel, Temple, Phila Univ, Penn State, Rowan who form the core of this very successful soccer club. Honored stars from last years undefeated regular season team returning for another run at the national title are stalwart central midfielder (and Barons GM) Neil Holloway-PDL All League Team in '04, Chris Williams-ALL Eastern Conf Team in '04, John Thompson-PDL All League Team '04 and the PDL Player of the Year for 2004 Ruben Mingo. In addition to those featured players is the return of Byron Carmichael who was called upon in mid-season last year by the Utah Blitzz of the USL's 2nd Divison where he helped take them to the national title.
The Ocean City Barons 2005 season kicks off on Sat, May 14, at the West Chester Flames who competed last year in the USL 2nd Division. The Flames return to the PDL for the 2005 season where they won the national title in 2001. The Barons move on to Albany for their 2nd match of the weekend on Sun, May 15.
When asked about the tough opening weekend schedule the Ocean City Baron's Neil Holloway offered this comment: "It is always an unpredictable start in the PDL as many of the players do not get out of college until the middle of May, which makes it hard to gel the team together. However, we have a good nucleus of players returning from last season's unbeaten team so we will be in a confident mood heading into the first few games. Going on the road for the first two will be a tough challenge, but also gives us a chance to show the other teams in our division and the PDL in general, that we mean business again. It is important that we make a good start to the 2005 campaign as the opening four games are Open Cup qualifiers. We qualified last year and took A-League
Syracuse to the wire, and are looking to do the same this time around. I've already been quoted as saying we will do well in the Open Cup this year and I stick by that statement. We would love to bring an MLS team to Ocean City and the magic of the Open Cup. We just can't wait for the season to start."
The 2004 regular season unbeaten Barons (14-0-4) return to Ocean City's Carey Stadium for the home opener on Sat, May 21, kicking off against the Vermont Voltage at 7:30. Ocean City Barons President John Granese offered this as the season gets underway: "I can't wait for the season to start! I have spoken to a lot of people in town and everyone is very excited. I think it will be a great season and the fans will be very surprized about the level of soccer they will be seeing. It will be fast paced, breathtaking, exciting and spectacular. Come and support your Ocean City Barons and help us to duplicate last year's undefeated season. Our goal is the national championship this year after coming so close last year."
Last year's Barons undefeated regular season marked only the 5th such accomplishment for a PDL squad. And history proved an obstacle in the end; NO PDL unbeaten team has thus far managed to continue that throughout the playoffs and win the national title. Last season both the Barons and the Chicago Fire Reserve fell prey to that precedent. Hence their goal this year to duplicate last season's performance and win it all this time.
The Barons will finish the month of May at home on Sun, May 29, against the two time PDL National Champion Cape Cod Crusaders (2002 & 2003). The challenge of the opening to the season is surely significant as the Barons will face three recent PDL champions in their 1st four matches. And there's more.
All four of the games in the month of May are also US Open Cup qualifiers for the Barons. The standings at the conclusion of play for May will determine placements in the opening round of US Open Cup play which begins on June 15th. The Open Cup matches are likely to be played mid-week as they will be scheduled around the regular season games, so there will be more entertaining soccer on display. Lets hope the Barons can add to their success of last year and we just may see a Major League Soccer side come to Ocean City in June or July as Neil has suggested. The Barons set high standards and they aim to meet them.
The Barons 16 match regular season will conclude on Sun, Jul 24, at home against the Brooklyn Knights. The following three weeks will be occupied by the playoffs leading up to the PDL national title match to be played on August 13.
Come to the Barons new home, Ocean City's Carey Stadium, and support them in their drive to return to the PDL playoffs and earn that national championship. You can also follow the Ocean City Barons and the news of the SJ Barons Soccer Club's youth activities on the Internet at: www.sjbarons.com
Ocean City Barons 2005 schedule http://www.sjbarons.com/PDL_Schedule.htm
To keep in touch with the action in the USL 1st Division, 2nd Division, PDL, W League or the Super Y visit the United Soccer League's website here: www.uslsoccer.com