By Chris Chaney
On the heels of a wildly successful World Cup, soccer fans across the country have been encouraged about the potential growth and future of the game in America. For the Cincinnati Dutch Lions Football Club, they’re betting that growth can manifest itself right here in Southwest Ohio.
“We’re trying to reach out around Cincinnati,” Sarah Mantel, a Clermont Northeastern alumna and public and media relations spokesperson for CDLFC, said. “After this season, we’ve realized that Cincinnati is a huge market for soccer and we’re trying to expand as much as we can.”
Wrapping up their inaugural season in the United Soccer League Premier Development League, the Cincinnati Dutch Lions are the latest arm of the Dutch Lions Capital Group BV franchise. The PDL is the fourth tier of the American soccer pyramid, which is topped by Major League Soccer.
The organization also has another PDL team in Houston (Houston Dutch Lions FC) and a USL Pro (third tier) team, the Dayton Dutch Lions FC. These lower-level teams act as a type of farm system for the MLS’ Columbus Crew.
The PDL, and as an extension, the CDLFC, is the top-level men’s amateur competition in the country. As such, the majority of the CDLFC and their opponents are made up of collegiate soccer players who are looking to raise their profile in the scholastic offseason.
The CDLFC President, Mike Mossel, is a Xavier University graduate and Dutch national who wanted to bring a soccer team to his adopted hometown. However, with the Cincinnati Kings already playing in the PDL, Mossel was unable to acquire the necessary license to bring a team to the Queen City. Instead, Mossel started the Dayton arm of the franchise, staying as close as he could to home, but also achieving his dream of bringing high-level soccer to the area. The Dayton Dutch Lions’ success begat a self-promotion to the USL Pro as a founding team in 2011 and when the Cincinnati Kings left in 2012, Mossel secured the license to expand the Dutch Lions organization to Cincinnati.
Mossel, along with club vice president Koen Driessen, began cultivating a plan to give local collegiate talent a platform to showcase their skills.
“I have a strong vision for the future of the Cincinnati franchise,” Driessen said. “Giving local talent a chance to play in a high-quality environment is a major priority as is providing a gateway to the professional level. The Dutch Lions can offer PDL players many opportunities, hopefully sending them to USL Pro, MLS or even Europe thanks to their numerous partnerships and affiliations.”
Even more localized, Milford High School graduate and Bowling Green State University defender Kyle Grothaus plays for the CDLFC and his father, Alan, is a math teacher at Milford Junior High School.
The CDLFC are made up mostly of locally studying players from the likes of XU, Cincinnati State, the University of Cincinnati, Marshall University, the University Southern Indiana and others.
Players compete for spots on the squad via an open tryout, which will likely be held once again this winter. The team competes in a 14-game regular season that runs from the beginning of May through July, giving players a good opportunity to stay in shape outside of scholastic team requirements while also competing at a high level.
With one game remaining in the 2014 season, the CDLFC are 6-4-3. With an outside chance of making the playoffs, the Dutch Lions will travel to Louisville to play the River City Rovers on July 19 at 7 p.m.
For more information about the CDLFC, their affiliates and any other inquiries you may have, log on to the club’s website at cincinnatidutchlionsfc.com. You can also find them on social media by searching for Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC on Facebook or by following @CincinnatiDLFC on Twitter.