The Dayton Dutch Lions opened the regular season last week with a disappointing 3-3 draw against the Cincinnati Kings. The Lions dominated possession from the beginning creating scoring chances and finding the back of the net in the 14th minute. Despite a comfortable 2-0 lead at the half, the Lions were unable to put the match away allowing the Kings to score three goals late in the second half to level things out for the 3-3 final. The Dutch Lions look to build on the season opener, correcting some breakdowns in their team shape, as they go into this weekend’s match against the Cleveland Internationals.
The Internationals entered the Premier Development League in 2004 under the ownership of Yugoslavian-born and ex-NASL player George Nanchoff. The inaugural season was a huge disappointment. After getting off to great start with a 3-0 victory over the Toledo Slayers, the Internationals went on to suffer several defeats including three thrashings of 5-0, 5-1, and 4-1 at the hand of the Michigan Bucks, Indiana Invaders and Kalamazoo Kingdom. The Internationals would go on to find themselves in dead last Great Lakes Division.
With higher expectations in 2005, the Internationals opened the season with two wins and a tie in their first three matches. In spite of their strong start, things quickly went downhill as the Internationals endured a 7 game winless streak. They closed out the season with a couple of wins to provide a ray of sunshine, in an otherwise stormy season, to finish 7th in the Division.
The Internationals continued to struggle in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. In 2006 they lost their home field at St. Edwards High School and were forced to travel throughout the season. The Cleveland side’s frustration was apparent managing only one victory in the final match of the season. While the 2007 season was an improvement for the Internationals, they remained one of the Central Conference least effective teams. A five game unbeaten streak at the end of the season set the stage for what would be the best season in club history.
The Internationals started the 2008 season with a pair of wins and looked to be in impressive form. This would carry on through the season bringing the club to verge of the playoffs for the first time. The Internationals would finish the regular season in second place and fall in the playoffs to the eventual PDL Champions Thunder Bay Chill. Despite this new found success, the club stepped backwards in 2009 finishing sixth in the Great Lakes Division and missing the playoffs.
As the Internationals travel to Dayton Saturday to take on the Dutch Lions, both sides have something to prove. The Internationals will be looking to regain their 2008 form and launch a new bid for the playoffs. The Dutch Lions will be looking for their first PDL win and to further refine their Dutch style of play demonstrating that they know how to finish a match. Saturday’s match is scheduled for 7:30pm at Miami Valley South Stadium in Bellbrook. Tickets are available for purchase on line at TicketWeb and at the gate.