For University of Dayton soccer players Randy Dennis and Jeff Popella, there was no local professional option last fall as they progressed through their senior seasons.
Now, in the fall, they’ll be pros in the area.
Dennis and Popella are two of seven American players who have signed or committed to sign with the Dayton Dutch Lions, a professional team set to play its inaugural season starting in April at Bellbrook High School. The seven players were picked following a January tryout, and now Dennis and Popella, roommates at UD, get to stay in town a bit longer.
“I’m from Texas, and there are more opportunities there, but there seem to be more things happening in Ohio and in the region,” said Dennis, a defender.
The Dayton Dutch Lions, a first-year team in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League, will play its eight league games and two scrimmages at the Bellbrook High School’s Miami Valley South Stadium. The team had already signed eight Dutch players, the maximum non-American players allowed by the league.
An April 30 scrimmage against Global United will precede a scrimmage against the Columbus Crew on June 19, and the Dutch Lions will play their USL schedule from May to July.
The Dutch Lions will join the Premier Development League’s Great Lakes Division, which already includes teams from Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Pontiac, Mich., and London, Ontario.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-7389 or knagel@DaytonDailyNews.com.