FC London PDL champs
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
There’s no need to call FC London the fairy tale team of the United Soccer League’s (USL) Premier Division (PDL) playoffs, now that they’ve been crowned champions after beating the Carolina Dynamo 2-1 in the final Saturday (Aug. 4).
“It really is something special,” said Ian Campbell, FC London President and CEO.
The Dynamo struck first blood in the 27th minute in front of the home Greensboro, N.C. crowd, but FC managed to equalize the game in the 33rd minute with a goal from Carl Haworth set up by Jordan Ayris to make it 1-1 by halftime.
Both teams came out battling back-and-forth in the second half before Ayris, FC’s leading goal getter, broke the deadlock in the 76th minute to give London their first PDL championship.
Ayris was named Most Valuable Player of the game.
“The composure he has on the ball is unbelievable,” Campbell said of the Central Conference All-Star. “To be doing that when you’re 19 years old and have that kind of pressure, he’s got a big future ahead of him.”
FC had never won a playoff game until this season, despite making the postseason every year since their beginnings in 2009.
London fought their way through the playoffs being the underdog in every game, first beating the Thunder Bay Chill 1-0, then upsetting the Great Lakes Division leading Michigan Bucks by a score of 2-1, before coming from behind in the last minutes of the semifinal to win 3-2 over the Seattle Sounders.
“We finished the season in 25th place out of the 73 other teams in the league, but we knew we had momentum,” Campbell said.
With only seven Canadian teams currently in the PDL, London is only the second team from the Great White North to win the championship in the league’s 18-year history.
London added some Canadian luck before the game when a member of FC’s staff buried a loonie at centre pitch.
After FC won the championship, Campbell gathered the team at half and said a speech before digging up the coin and grabbing the PDL trophy. The president said he plans on framing the loonie with a picture of the team in their finest moment.
“At the end everyone wanted to grab the Canadian flag,” Campbell said. “I think the guys felt good that they not only were representing for London, but for Canada as well.”