SIMA Águilas Named as Latest PDL team in Florida
The PDL has added SIMA Águilas in its January round of expansion clubs set to take the pitch for the 2017 season. Founded as an extension of the Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy (SIMA), the school looks to provide its students with an opportunity to compete during the college offseason in their hometown.
The club will compete as the SIMA Águilas, and play its home matches at the Montverde Academy Center for Sportsmanship and Wellness.
“The PDL strives to be an elite developmental league in North America, and our mission completely aligns with Montverde Academy’s aim to help young athletes flourish into better players and people,” PDL Director Todd Eason said. “SIMA is well known for producing talented individuals, and the addition of a PDL franchise serves as a platform for its players to learn, grow and receive national exposure on their path to the pros.”
Founded in 2013, SIMA is a soccer-specific developmental program in direct affiliation with Montverde Academy – an independent boarding school located in Orlando. The SIMA program has been responsible for more than 120 student-athletes obtaining college scholarships since its opening, including 13 graduates who have gone on to play in Major League Soccer and in Europe on first-team contracts at the age of 18.
“We are pleased to have this opportunity to advance soccer development to the next level with a PDL team,” Montverde Academy Headmaster Dr. Kasey Kesselring said. “With scores of SIMA alumni in the college ranks, the ability to provide a competitive venue and continue to expose them to high-level competition will only serve to advance their opportunities toward a potential professional opportunity. We are very pleased to join the PDL family.”
The Águilas will be led by head coach and Director of the Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy Mike Potempa, who holds a U.S. Soccer Federation “A” license. Potempa played his collegiate career at Clemson University before being selected by the LA Galaxy in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft. After retiring, he coached at his alma mater for seven years before joining Montverde Academy in 2010.
“The Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy is firmly committed to soccer-specific development across all age groups and ability levels in the United States,” Potempa said. “It is our goal through the PDL to provide a professional environment for young players to train properly during the summer months and prepare them for their upcoming college seasons and future professional careers. Our environment and training methods will help bridge the gap of development that cannot be satisfied with the current college structure. We believe in youth and will always sacrifice results for development.”
In the previous six years, more than 120 players from Montverde Academy have received scholarships to play collegiately, including 76 scholarship athletes in Division I of the NCAA. Among the alumni include Clemson’s top 2016 scorer in junior forward Diego Campos and the University of Portland’s leading goal-scorer in freshman Benji Michel, who featured this past summer for the PDL’s Portland Timbers U23s. Other alumni included Oumar Diakhite, who currently plays for Portuguese club G.D. Estoril Praia, Matheus Silva, who signed a first team contract with the San Jose Earthquakes after graduation from Montverde Academy, and Amang Olivier, who competes for Molde FK in Norway.
The Águilas join the South Florida Surf, Lakeland Tropics, Palm Beach Suns FC, The Villages SC, FC Miami City and IMG Academy as PDL clubs set to compete in Florida this summer.
Photo Credit: Premier Development League