Barons announce '08 PDL schedule

12th season opens May 11 at Carey Stadium in O.C.

The Ocean City Barons will open their 12th season in the United Soccer Leagues at Carey Stadium on May 11 when they welcome first-year team Newark Ironbound. For the fourth year in a row, the Barons will play 8 of the 16 regular season games at "The Beach House", where they have the 5th best home record in the PDL since 2005.

The 2008 league format sees the PDL increase to 67 teams divided by four conferences and 10 total divisions. The Eastern Conference will sport a brand new look, splitting into three divisions. The Barons will compete in the Northeast Division where they will battle with a pair of expansion teams from New Jersey and three long-time franchises from New York. The Ocean City Barons will open their 12th season in the United Soccer Leagues at Carey Stadium on May 11 when they welcome first-year team Newark Ironbound. For the fourth year in a row, the Barons will play 8 of the 16 regular season games at "The Beach House", where they have the 5th best home record in the PDL since 2005.

2008 Ocean City Barons schedule
May 11 vs. Newark Ironbound Express (OCQ) 7:30 p.m.
May 14 at New Jersey Rangers (OCQ) 7:00 p.m.
May 17 at Long Island Rough Riders (OCQ) 8:00 p.m.
May 23 vs. Richmond Kickers Future (OCQ) 7:30 p.m.
May 31 at Cape Cod Crusaders 7:00 p.m.
June 1 at Rhode Island Stingrays 5:00 p.m.
June 7 vs. Brooklyn Knights 7:30 p.m.
June 13 at New Jersey Rangers 7:00 p.m.
June 15 vs. Newark Ironbound Express 7:30 p.m.
June 21 at Westchester Flames 5:30 p.m.
June 25 at Newark Ironbound Express 8:00 p.m.
June 29 vs. Westchester Flames 7:30 p.m.
July 6 vs. Hampton Roads Piranhas 7:30 p.m.
July 9 at Brooklyn Knights 8:00 p.m.
July 12 vs. Long Island Rough Riders 7:30 p.m.
July 20 vs. New Jersey Rangers 7:30 p.m.
July 26-27 Eastern Conference Playoffs  
Aug 2-3 National Semifinals
Aug 9 PDL Championship Game

OCQ - Open Cup Qualifier

The 2008 league format sees the PDL increase to 67 teams divided by four conferences and 10 total divisions. The Eastern Conference will sport a brand new look, splitting into three divisions. The Barons will compete in the Northeast Division where they will battle with a pair of expansion teams from New Jersey and three long-time franchises from New York.

Since the 2005 season, the Barons have been the only PDL team in the state of New Jersey, but this year, they are joined by the Newark Ironbound Express and the New Jersey Rangers, who are based in northern part of the state. Three veteran clubs from the Empire State make up the remainder of the division with the Westchester Flames, Long Island Rough Riders and last year’s surprise Eastern Conference champion, the Brooklyn Knights. Both the Knights and the Flames are celebrating their 10th year as USL franchises, while 2008 marks the 15th season for the Rough Riders.

The three division champions in the Eastern Conference will advance to the conference playoffs, where they will be joined by the team with the best record who did not win their division. The winner of the Eastern Conference playoffs, which is scheduled to take place during the last weekend of July, will advance to the National Semfinals the following weekend. The PDL championship will take place on August 9.

"The addition of the two New Jersey teams is very exciting," said Barons general manager Neil Holloway. "Hopefully we can create some in-state rivalries with these two clubs with the possibility of maybe creating a New Jersey Cup to see who is the best team in the Garden State."

Ocean City will play Newark and New Jersey three times each, while taking on Brooklyn, Long Island and Westchester in a home and home series. The rest of the schedule features some familiar teams from outside the division. The Hampton Roads Piranhas, who finished their debut season in the PDL last year without losing a single regular season game, were the only team to defeat the Barons at home last year. The biggest challenge will come on May 31 when the Barons travel north to play the Cape Cod Crusaders at their home stadium, a place where they haven’t lost since the 2004 campaign (a span of 27 games). Other non-division opponents include the Richmond Kickers Future, the team that eliminated the Barons in 2005 conference playoffs, and the Rhode Island Stingrays.

As in years past, the first four games of the season will double as qualifiers for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The U.S. Open Cup, established in 1914, is the oldest annual team tournament in American sports. The Cup is the only tournament is American sports where teams from every level of play, from your local recreation league team to Major League Soccer, are able to compete against each other in a single-elimination format. The Barons have qualified for two of the last three Open Cups and last year made a splash by upsetting Crystal Palace Baltimore, a professional team from the USL Second Division, by a score of 1-0.

"This year’s team will be made up of some of the best talent South Jersey has to offer," said Holloway. "We are excited about playing another summer of soccer at the beach and continuing our fantastic relationship with the city of Ocean City."

Last year, the Barons finished the regular season with a 9-3-4 record (6-1-1 at Carey Stadium) under first-year head coach Mike Pellegrino. Their second place finish was good enough to make the Eastern Conference playoffs, which were held at Carey Stadium. The Barons season came to an end in the semifinals when two of their players were sent off in the opening 23 minutes of the match, allowing the Cape Cod Crusaders to cruise to a 5-0 victory.

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