July 11, 2006
Baltimore, Md. - Loyola seniors Rade Kokovic, Gabriel Ortega and Danny Wheelan will play for Crystal Palace Football Club USA, as they take on England's famous Crystal Palace Football Club this Saturday, July 15 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The exhibition match, slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff, will feature England's first-team against the football club's new professional development team.
"I'm very pleased for our college players who don't get a chance to play much soccer in the summer," says Loyola Head Coach Mark Mettrick. "Playing games is vital for their development, and the new PDL team is great for players in the summer."
Crystal Palace FC USA, in its first year of existence, will play only one match this summer - Saturday against it's home squad. The football club will launch an expansion Premier Development League (PDL) team, Crystal Palace Baltimore FC, in 2007. PDL soccer allows college players to maintain their NCAA eligibility while giving premier professional clubs an opportunity to develop future talent for their first-teams.
"For many years, top college Division I programs have had players competing in the PDL," says Mettrick. "So I am very pleased our players will get this opportunity."
Kokovic, Ortega and Wheelan are three of Loyola's six seniors this season. All three players earned All-MAAC honors with the Greyhounds last year with Kokovic and Ortega garnering first-team accolades. Ortega, a leader on the defensive unit, also picked up regional All-America honors in 2005.
"It's nice to get out and run," says Ortega. "Playing with Crystal Palace USA give us a great opportunity to play a real soccer game this summer. We have guys from Towson, UMBC and Maryland on our team, which also makes it a lot of fun."
"Saturday will be a great test for the best regional players at the NCAA level to see if they can complete against multi-million dollars players," says Jim Cherneski, Sporting Director and Coach for Crystal Palace FC USA. "We need a good showing against our parent team to show that American soccer is worthy of investment."
Tickets for Saturday's match can be purchased for $20 apiece. Click on Football Tickets to reserve your seats today.