USL Pro Profile: Dayton Dutch Lions
The team was founded by Mike Mossel and Erik Tammer and began playing in the USL PDL in 2010. The team performed exceedingly well in their inaugural year in the PDL Great Lakes Division. The Dutch Lions were set to be promoted to USL-2 in 2011, but a restructuring of USL at that time opened the door for them to join the newly formed USL Pro. The team struggled to earn positive results on the field in its first season as a professional squad, but made significant strides in 2012.
In addition to running the professional men’s team, Dayton Dutch Lions LLC operates a team in the USL W-League and develops future soccer stars in its youth academy.
- Name: Miami Valley Hospital Stadium, Beavercreek, OH
- Playing Surface: Artificial
After a three year period in which most of the home games were played at Miami Valley South Stadium in Bellbrook, the team has negotiated a 1-year contract to play home games at Beavercreek High School with an option to extend beyond the first year. Beavercreek desires to get the entire community behind the team, and the team appears to be pleased with the formation of a true partnership.
- Owners: Mike Mossel and Erik Tammer
- Business Manager: Koen Driessen
- Marketing Director: Laurie Smalley
Ivar van Dinteren has been the coach of the team since its promotion to USL Pro from USL PDL in 2011. He ended his professional playing career for the Dutch Lions in that year after several seasons of suiting up for teams in the Eredivise, the top professional league in the Netherlands.
Players Of Note:
- Captain: Joel DeLass captained the team from his midfield position in 2012.
- Leading Scorers: Gibson Bardsley led the team in scoring last year, tallying 5 goals and 1 assist. Bardsley was followed by Eli Garner, who scored 4 goals and assisted on 3 others.
- International players: The Dutch Lions roster has always contained a significant international presence, especially from the Netherlands. While the front office would not discuss the contract situations of those players at this time, it is reasonable to assume that the trend will not change in 2013.
At this point, the front office confirms that Eli Garner (F), Shane Smith (D), and Eric Kissinger (M/F) will be returning to the Dutch Lions for the upcoming season. Koen Driessen was asked about the possible return of other players , but he was unable to comment on the status of their contract situations. Mr. Driessen did indicate, however, that a press release regarding a couple of exciting new signings is expected in the next week.
It is interesting to note that Gibson Bardsley is not currently under contract with the team. Bardsley indicated that he was waiting to hear from the organization, but the front office will not comment on the situation until the matter is settled. Bardsley is an aggressive, athletic winger, who was recently named one of the top 10 MLS prospects playing in USL Pro. In addition to leading the Dutch Lions in goal-scoring last season, he led the league in shots. His play against Sporting KC in the US Open Cup earned him a trial with that club at the end of the USL Pro regular season. It’s fair to say that a lot of fans and general managers will be following this story line with much anticipation.
Player personnel decisions are made by the head coach, Mike Mossel, and Eric Tammer. Jack Hermans, assistant coach, has helped tremendously with the scouting of local players. With regard to structuring the roster, the philosophy is to recruit and grow local talent to combine with a couple of experienced international players.
The Dutch Lions averaged 716 spectators in attendance at home games in 2012. Last season Dayton played at three home venues, Miami Valley South Stadium, Miami Valley Hospital Stadium, and Careflight Field.
When the team began as a PDL side in 2010 a small, faithful group called the Orange Legion organized to support the team. After a two-year absence the Orange Legion is looking to rise again to push the team to victory.
Sponsorship deals are currently being negotiated by the front office, so the team couldn’t disclose many details at this time.
The Dutch Lions finished the 2012 USL Pro regular season with a record of 4-10-10 (22 pts.) and a goal differential of -9. This was enough to secure the eighth position in the USL Pro table, which probably exceeded expectations of those outside the organization. The men in orange had a strong finish to the season, earning 4 wins and 5 draws over the last 12 games.
The pleasant surprise of the 2012 campaign came when Dayton joined 2 other USL Pro clubs in the quarter-finals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The Dutch Lions managed to pull off an upset of the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium before dropping a match to Sporting KC, the eventual champions.
Based on the team’s form at the end of last year and the excitement of new, unannounced signings, the front office has indicated that the team is expected to make the USL Pro playoffs in 2013. It’s difficult to determine how realistic that goal might be. The expansion of the playoff format from 6 to 8 teams and the solid play at the end of last season bode well. There are, however, a lot of questions about how the roster will fill out and how the new teams in the league will perform.
The team’s long-term goals are to establish a permanent, passionate soccer community in Dayton and the surrounding areas. As it has done in the past, the team will continue to support local businesses, charities, and youth soccer programs as it becomes integrated into the community.
A big part of this process is the operation of the youth academy. The front office is looking forward to the day when several products of the academy are playing professionally for the Dutch Lions. Furthermore, the ultimate goal of the academy is to produce players that go on to play in MLS and other top leagues around the world.
As was indicated in Catching Up With the Dutch Lions, part of these plans may include a soccer-specific stadium for the team. Until this dream is realized, fans have to wait and hope.