Bret Jones was walking toward a reporter to discuss the area’s new professional soccer venture just as renowned Dutch goalkeeper Oscar Moens was walking away.
“This guy,” Moens cracked while pointing to Jones, “he jumps like a monkey!”
Jones, a Xenia High School and Wright State product, laughed. Then Moens, the 6-foot-3 keeper, began jumping around and waving his arms in a lighthearted moment.
Any question about the Dutch and American players finding harmony on the first-year Dayton Dutch Lions might’ve been answered with that quick display from the 37-year-old Moens, a resident of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to Jones, the 29-year-old Miami Valley native.
“Any time you have a new club and new players, it takes some getting used to,” Jones said. “But this hasn’t been a problem.”
One of the most unique aspects of the Dutch Lions, which will begin its inaugural season on Friday, April 30, with a scrimmage against the traveling all-star club Global United at Bellbrook High School, is the wide mix of players. The ages of the group leading the team into the Premier Development League division of the United Soccer Leagues range from 37 (Moens) to 21 (University of Dayton product Randy Dennis). The American portion of the roster includes six players who prepped in the area and others from New Jersey and Texas. Eight players are from Holland.
“But they didn’t come in saying, ‘I’m from Holland, I know soccer’ and putting themselves on a pedestal,” Jones said. “We’re learning as much from them as we can, and hopefully they can learn from us.”
One of the benefits, players said, is the lack of a language barrier. Each of the Dutch players speaks English, which was a requirement to join the team. There are moments of Dutch, though.
“Of course it happens,” said Geert den Ouden, a forward and Rotterdam resident. “I will try to remind the players when I hear them speaking Dutch. I say, ‘English, English.’ ”
Aside from language, players are also adapting to different styles in play. In Holland, teams rely heavily on passing. In the United States, there is more individual handling of the ball.
“They’re very much passing teams, very efficient-type teams,” said Alex van der Sluijs, a Carroll High School and Wilmington College product. “As Americans, we try to bring more creativity and more athleticism to the game.”
The Dutch players arrived here on April 12, giving the team about three weeks of practices and scrimmages before meeting Global United. The Dutch Lions will then play again on May 8 in the PDL opener against the Cincinnati Kings, giving the group even more time to mold.
“It has been good,” Moens said. “We learn from them, and they learn from us.”
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-7389 or knagel@DaytonDailyNews.com.