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Nielsen begins new career on OKC sidelines
by Paul Kennedy, April 4th, 2014 4:48PM
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TAGS:  usl


[USL PRO: Week 3] Jimmy Nielsen, who captained Sporting Kansas City to the MLS Cup 2013 title, begins his new career as the coach of expansion OKC Energy FC Saturday night when the Oklahoma City team plays the first of two games on its Southern California swing at the Orange County Blues. Harrisburg, Rochester and Wilmington, all longtime USL clubs, also open their 2014 campaigns on Saturday. For a look at the four teams.

2014 Harrisburg City Islanders:
The Islanders finished with a 14-10-2 record and led USL PRO with 55 goals, but Coach Bill Becher has some work to do, having lost Zimbabwean Lucky Mkosana to the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies, Gambian Sainey Touray to the San Antonio Scorpions. The good news is that Ivorian Yann Ekra is returning after failing to stick with Philadelphia Union, Harrisburg's MLS partner. Harrisburg also returns two veteran leaders in goalkeeper Nick Noble, a  second-team all-league pick in 2013, and midfielder Jason Pelletier, now in his seventh season. Offseason signings include Portuguese forward Edinho Junior, who played briefly for Blackburn Rovers, and Mozambican forward Clesio Bauque on loan from Benfica.
COACH: Bill Becher. STADIUM: Skyline Sports Complex (capacity: 5,000).
MLS PARTNER: Philadelphia Union. MLS LOAN PLAYERS: Cristhian Hernandez, Jimmy McLaughlin, Richie Marquez, Pedro Ribeiro.

2014 OKC Energy FC:
Young Jon Kempin, who was one of Nielsen's backups at SKC, has been recalled by the MLS this weekend, so another promising young keeper, former U.S. youth international Samir Badr, should get the start in Saturday's opener at Orange County. Michael Thomas, another former SKC player, will captain OKC. Other notable signings include Welshman Gareth Evans, who played three seasons at the Wilmington Hammerheads, Dane Phillip Lund, formerly with the Seattle Sounders, Englishman Paul Wyatt, who starred at James Madison University, and Danish-born Adda Djeziri, who has played for clubs in Denmark, Scotland and England.
Jimmy Nielsen. STADIUM: Pribil Stadium (capacity: 4,000).
MLS PARTNER: Sporting KC. MLS LOAN PLAYERS: Christian Duke, Jon Kempin.

2014 Rochester Rhinos:
The Rhinos were last season's big disappointment, finishing with a 6-10-10 record, the worst in their 18-year history. Veteran USL coach Bob Lilley, who led Rochester to divisional titles in 2010 and 2011, has been rehired to turn things around. He cleaned house, dropping all but four players -- JC Banks, Matt Luzunaris, Tyler Rosenlund and Lance Rozeboom -- from last year's team. Luis Soffner, one of three loan from players from New England, should start in goal, and Senegalese defender Babacar Diallo from Inter Turku and Togolese-born VMI product Ayao Sossou from VPS have been brought in from Finland. Alex Dixon, a former Houston Dynamo Homegrown player from the University of North Carolina, will play up front.
Bob Lilley. STADIUM: Sahlen's Stadium (capacity: 13,768).
MLS PARTNER: New England Revolution. MLS LOAN PLAYERS: Jossimar Sanchez, Luis Soffner, Alec Sundly.

2014 Wilmington Hammerheads:
The Hammerheads were 11-11-4 and missed the playoffs by one point in 2013, but veteran Hammerheads coach David Irving feels confident about the new season. “The players have been ready to take the field and be part of the action for weeks now," he says. Returning players include Cody Arnoux, Paul Nicholson and Mickael Oliveira. Wilmington has added goalie Matt Glaeser from the NASL Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, midfielders Manny Aparicio and Daniel Lovitz on loan from Toronto FC, Costa Rican midfielder Michael Calderon, a Vancouver Whitecaps draft pick out of New Mexico, and former Seattle Sounders forward Sammy Ochoa, but it will need to rebuild the backline, where it lost Evans to OKC and Daniel Steres to LA Galaxy II. Jamaican international Andrae Campbell could be a big help in the back.
David Irving. STADIUM: Legion Stadium (capacity: 6,000).
MLS PARTNER: Toronto FC. MLS LOAN PLAYERS: Manny Aparicio, Daniel Lovitz, Quillan Roberts.

Friday, April 4
7:00 p.m. ET
Charlotte vs. Dayton
Saturday, April 5
5:00 p.m. ET
Richmond vs. Pittsburgh
Orlando City vs. Rochester
Wilmington vs. Harrisburg
10:00 p.m. ET
Orange County vs. OKC Energy FC
Streaming: USL PRO YouTube | NSCAATV

USL PRO, Standings:
4 LA Galaxy II 1-0-1 4/1
2 Charleston 0-0-2 3/3
2 Orlando City 0-0-2 2/2
1 Richmond 0-0-1 2/2
1 Pittsburgh 0-0-1 1/1
1 Sacramento 0-0-1 1/1
0 Orange County 0-1-0 1/3
0 Arizona Utd. 0-0-0 0/0
0 Dayton 0-1-0 0/3
0 Charlotte 0-0-0 0/0
0 Harrisburg 0-0-0 0/0
0 OKC Energy 0-0-0 0/0
0 Rochester 0-0-0 0/0
0 Wilmington 0-0-0 0/0

Monday, April 7
2:00 p.m. ET
Chivas USA Reserves vs. Sacramento
10:30 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy II vs. OKC Energy FC
Friday, April 11
7:00 p.m. ET
Dayton vs. Rochester
Saturday, April 12
7:00 p.m. ET
harlotte vs. Richmond
Pittsburgh vs. Wilmington
7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando City vs. Charleston
10:00 p.m. ET
Orange County vs. Sacramento
10:10 p.m. ET
Arizona United vs. OKC Energy FC
Sunday, April 13
6:00 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy II vs. Sacramento
Streaming: USL PRO YouTube | NSCAATV

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