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Thursday, April 7, 2011
L.A. BLUES: PDL team? It's official

By Scott French

The L.A. Blues have taken the vacant spot left in the Premier Development League by Hollywood United FC's departure, announcing Thursday that they would field a reserve team to play in the national amateur/semipro league.


The Blues, who have teams in two other leagues administered by the Tampa, Fla.-based United Soccer Leagues, will use L.A. Blues 23 as a professional second team in support of its first team, which will debut in the new USL Pro league next week. They will step into HUFC's schedule, as announced in February, and open their PDL slate on April 29 at Fresno Fuego.

L.A. Blues 23, with Blues academy director and first-team assistant coach Auggie Rodriguez at the helm, will play most of its home games at Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, also home to the club's women's team, two-time USL W-League champion Pali Blues.

"We think it can be a good thing," Blues head coach/vice president Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles on Wednesday night while considering the opportunity. "It serves a need, and if we decide we can fit it in, if we do [the PDL team] as a pro team, we can move guys back and forth [between the two teams]."

That's the plan for the Blues, whose season in the third-tier USL Pro begins a week from Friday with the start of an eight-day, four-game trek to play International Division rivals in the Caribbean.

HUFC, also a pro club, last month left the PDL to join the Galt, Calif.-based National Premier Soccer League, another national amateur/semipro league. The PDL and NPSL are at the fourth tier of American men's soccer.

Blues 23 becomes the fifth L.A.-area team in the PDL, joining the L.A. Legends (home games at Huntington Park High School), Orange County Blue Star (Concordia University in Irvine), Southern California Seahorses (Biola University in La Mirada) and Ventura County Fusion (Ventura College). Other teams in the PDL's Southwest Division are Fresno and Utah's BYU Cougars and Ogden Outlaws.

Former Indiana University midfielder Vijay Dias will serve Blues 23 as sort of an assistant general manager.

The team's schedule (home games at Palisades HS unless noted):

April 29: at Fresno Fuego, 7 p.m.
May 7: at Orange County Blue Star, 5 p.m.
May 13: at Ventura County Fusion, 7 p.m.
May 21: vs. Southern California Seahorses, 7 p.m.
May 28: vs. L.A. Legends, 7 p.m.
June 2: vs. Ventura County Fusion, 7 p.m.
June 5: vs. Fresno Fuego, 6 p.m.
June 7: vs. Orange County Blue Star, 7 p.m.
June 11: at L.A. Legends, 6 p.m.
June 17: vs. BYU Cougars, 7 p.m.
June 25: at Southern California Seahorses, 7 p.m.
July 2: vs. Ventura County Fusion at Cal State Fullerton, 1 p.m.
July 8: vs. Ogden Outlaws, 7 p.m.
July 14: at Fresno Fuego, 7 p.m.
July 21: at BYU Cougars, 6:30 p.m.
July 23: at Ogden Outlaws, 5 p.m.