Monday, October 25, 2010

Rochester Rhinos, Replanted Aztex To Join USL PRO; Now At 11 Teams

The top two teams in the USL Conference of the USSF Division 2 Pro League -- the Rochester Rhinos and the Austin Aztex -- announced they are joining USL Pro, a merger of the former USL First and Second Divisions, for their debut season in 2011, increasing the membership to 11 out of a possible 18-20 teams that will compete in a four-region nationwide outdoor league.

However, in a stunning announcement, the Aztex also announced Monday they are relocating the franchise to Orlando and will now call themselves Orlando City Soccer Club. They will be remain owned by Phil Rawlins, now president of Orlando Sports Holdings, with Brendan Flood, majority owner of Burnley FC of the English Football League Championship, and Charlotte, NC businessman Dan Williams serving as minority owners.

Rawlings said OCSC will retain the services of Aztex head coach Adrian Heath and a majority of the former Aztex players for the 2011 season. OSCS will also keep its affilation agreement with Stoke City of the English Premier League, also owned by Rawlings.

The Aztex, who started play in the 2008 USL Premier Development League, came to USL First Division in 2009 and was named the league's Rookie Franchise of the Year.

Austin finished second in the USSF D-2 League's USL Conference with a record of 15-7-8 with 53 points and made the league's playoffs.

The Rhinos, owned by Rob Clark, since 2008, has made the playoffs in the USL and the D-2 League throughout its 15 years of existence, and ended the D-2 season with the league's best record at 16-8-6 with 54 points.

Rhinos head coach Bob Lilley was recently named the USSF D-2 Coach of the Year.

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