The Premier Development League season arrives at the end of April, and missing will be the Lancaster Rattlers, who have moved to a rival league after four seasons in the United Soccer Leagues' amateur/semipro division.
Orange County Blue Star should be pleased.
The Rattlers' departure leaves eight teams in the Southwest Division -- five of them in the L.A. area -- with an unbalanced, 16-game schedule. Everyone must play two division rivals three times, and, wouldn't you know it, two of the most prominent sides must square off more than twice.
And Orange County, expected to battle 2009 PDL champ Ventura County Fusion and Hollywood United FC for the Southwest title and one of the division's two postseason berths, isn't one of them.
The three Ventura County-Hollywood United showdowns is the biggest news from the PDL schedule released Thursday by the Tampa-based USL. Hollywood United visits Fresno Fuego for the league opener on April 29, and the L.A. Legends are home July 24 against Fresno in the final regular-season game.
The Southern California Seahorses will open in a tripleheader May 14 at Cal State Fullerton, playing the Legends at 4:30, between W-League and USL Pro games. The other local teams' seasons begin at least 13 days earlier.
Blue Star, which opens its season May 1 against the Legends at Huntington Park High School, will play three games against L.A. and the Seahorses. The Fusion gets an extra match with the Seahorses and HUFC plays Fresno a third time.
Lancaster, rebranded as Rattlers FC, have moved to the 37-team National Premier Soccer League, another national amateur/semipro outfit. Among the NPSL's 10 new clubs are Santa Ana Winds FC, which will play at Santa Ana Stadium, and FC Hasental, based in the Conejo Valley, in and around Thousand Oaks.
Three local PDL teams are playing in new venues this season. Hollywood United will play home games at Contreras Learning Center in downtown L.A., the Fusion will play all of its home games at Ventura College, and the Legends are at Huntington Park. The Southern California Seahorses remain at Biola University in La Mirada, and Blue Star will again play at Concordia College in Irvine.
There are 64 teams spread across nine PDL divisions. Portland Timbers U23 is the defending champion.
Below are the local PDL teams' home schedules. (Click on the team name for the full schedule; for the complete PDL schedule, go here.)
Home: Contreras Learning Center (Los Angeles)
May 21 Southern California, 7 p.m.
May 28 Los Angeles, 7 p.m.
June 2 Ventura County, 7 p.m.
June 5 Fresno, 7 p.m.
June 7 Orange County, 7 p.m.
June 17 BYU, 7 p.m.
July 1 Ventura County, 7 p.m.
July 8 Ogden, 7 p.m.
Home: Huntington Park High School (Huntington Park)
May 1 Orange County, 6 p.m.
May 7 Ventura County, 6 p.m.
May 12 Ogden, 8 p.m.
June 4 Fresno, 6 p.m.
June 11 Hollywood United, 6 p.m.
July 9 BYU, 6 p.m.
July 13 Southern California, 8 p.m.
July 24 Fresno, 6 p.m.
Home: Concordia University (Irvine)
May 7 Hollywood United, 5 p.m.
May 14 BYU, 5 p.m.
May 25 Southern California, 5 p.m.
June 18 Ogden, 5 p.m.
July 3 Los Angeles, 6 p.m. (at Huntington Park HS)
July 10 Fresno, 5 p.m.
July 15 Ventura County, 5 p.m.
July 17 Los Angeles, 5 p.m.
Home: Biola University (La Mirada)
May 14 Los Angeles, 4:30 p.m. (at Cal State Fullerton)
May 28 Ventura County, 7 p.m.
June 1 Orange County, 7 p.m.
June 18 BYU, 7 p.m.
June 22 Orange County, 7 p.m.
June 25 Hollywood United, 7 p.m.
July 9 Ogden, 7 p.m.
July 23 Fresno, 7 p.m.
Home: Ventura College (Ventura)
May 1 Fresno, 5 p.m.
May 13 Hollywood United, 7 p.m.
May 15 Southern California, 5 p.m.
May 20 Orange County, 7 p.m.
June 5 Southern California, 5 p.m.
June 16 Ogden, 7 p.m.
July 8 BYU, 7 p.m.
July 23 Los Angeles, 7 p.m.