Northern Virginia Royals
Northern Virginia Royals were an American soccer team based in Woodbridge, Virginia, United States. Founded in 1998, the team played in the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, in the South Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
|Full name||Northern Virginia Royals|
|Ground||Hellwig Memorial Field Stadium|
|League||USL Premier Development League|
|2014||6th, Mid Atlantic|
The team played its home games at Hellwig Memorial Field Stadium in nearby Manassas, Virginia. The team's colors were blue, gold and white.
The team had a sister organization, the Northern Virginia Majestics, who played in the women's USL W-League, and fielded a team in the USL’s Super-20 League, a league for players 17 to 20 years of age run under the United Soccer Leagues umbrella. Throughout their recent history, the Royals have enjoyed minor league affiliation with D.C. United, the nearby Major League Soccer franchise.
D-3 Pro League
The Northern Virginia Royals joined the USISL D-3 Pro League as an expansion franchise in 1998, and ended their first season in 7th place behind Delaware Wizards in the Atlantic Division with a 5-12-1 record. Their second season, 1999, was a major improvement, with the team winning 10 of their 18 regular season games, and finishing fourth in the Atlantic Division behind Charlotte Eagles, with striker Tim Prisco scoring a team-leading 14 goals. The team also qualified for their first US Open Cup campaign in 1999, but were upset in the first round by Florida PDL side Cocoa Expos, losing an 8-goal thriller 5-3. In the playoffs they beat divisional rivals South Carolina Shamrocks 2-1 in the first round before falling 4-0 to Charlotte in the conference semi final, but the progress on the field seemed to bode well for the future. The 1998 season and the Royals were featured in the book "Unlucky: A Season of Struggle in Minor League Professional Soccer" by Dave Ungrady, who trained and played briefly for the Royals as well. The book was highly critical of the teams ownership and the USL as a whole.
The 2000 season was a disappointment, as the team slumped to a 6-12-0 regular season record and finished the year 7th in the Southern Division behind Texas Rattlers. The Royals did qualify for the US Open Cup for the second time in 2000, but lost at the first attempt for the second straight year, losing 3-2 to the Hampton Roads Mariners in the second round. 2001 was even worse for the Royals, as the team hit rock bottom with just one win all year long, and finished dead last Southern Conference. In a truly testing season they scored just 9 goals while conceding 63 - a quite appalling record. 2002 was an improvement, but only just, as the Royals secured three victories in the 20 game regular season, but still finished in the basement of the Southern Conference, a full 55 points behind divisional champions Wilmington Hammerheads.
Pro Select League/USL Second Division
The D-3 Pro League became the USL Pro Select League in 2003, and the Royals suffered yet another disappointing season, finishing bottom of the 3-team Southern Division, with just 6 wins for the year. The year began poorly with a 5-game losing streak in May that included a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Wilmington Hammerheads; they finally picked up their first win the last weekend of the opening month, 4-2 over West Virginia Chaos, but promptly lost their next four games on the trot. The Royals did enjoy brief run of form in late June in which they won three straight games, including an exciting 3-2 victory at home over Greenville Lions, and they followed that up with a comprehensive 3-0 win over the Chesapeake Dragons in early July, but this as good as it got for the team in 2003. They lost four of their last five games down the home stretch, falling 4-1 to Wilmington Hammerheads on the road on the final day of the season, capping a largely dispiriting year.
If 2003 was bad, then 2004 was even worse as the Royals finished the season rock bottom of the Southern Division, with just three wins all year. The victories - 3-2 over the Long Island Rough Riders in May with two goals from Matthew Osborne, 2-1 over Chesapeake Dragons in June, and then 4-1 over Chesapeake again in July with two goals from Fabio Andrade - were scant reward for a season where they dropped points and conceded goals left right and center everywhere else. They conceded 5 goals in their games against Harrisburg City Islanders, Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Charlotte Eagles in the early part of the season, and then let Charlotte hit them for six in the return fixture in mid-July, their most ignominious defeat of the season. Times were hard in northern Virginia.
The USL Pro Select League became the USL Second Division in 2005, and dispensed with divisions in favor of a single-table format; for the Royals, this proved to be yet another disastrous season. In what was undoubtedly a long and demoralizing season, the Royals picked up just two wins all season, lost all of their 18 other games, conceded an astonishing 90 goals in the process, and finished bottom of the league, 37 points behind regular season champions Western Mass Pioneers. The wins - a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Wilmington Hammerheads and a 3-1 triumph at home over New Hampshire Phantoms with 2 goals from Matthew Osborne - were the loan high points of the season. The Royals were truly awful in every other game: they conceded 5 goals on 5 different occasions, let in 6 goals twice, and lost 7-0 to Charlotte Eagles on the opening day of the season, to Harrisburg City Islanders in late July, and to Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the penultimate game. First choice goalkeeper Alexander Hall ended the year with a dismal 4.514 GAA average, while top scorer Fabio Andrade managed just four goals all season.
With declining attendances and awful on-field performances, the Royals management took the decision to self-relegate themselves to the USL Premier Development League for the 2006 season.
USL Premier Development League
The transition from professionalism to amateurism was not a wholly smooth one for the Royals in 2006. Despite winning their first ever game in the PDL, 3-1 over West Virginia Chaos, the Royals suffered spotty form for most of the season thereafter, never quite building up enough of a head of steam to put together a decent run of victories. They beat Reading Rage 4-2 at home in a seesaw game thanks to two goals from substitute Davorin Husadzinovic, and put together a pair of back-to-back wins over Virginia Legacy and West Virginia Chaos again in early June, but their form on the road was their downfall. A run of five heavy defeats stretching into mid-July, including a 6-0 walloping at the hands of the Virginia Beach Submariners, put pay to any scant playoff hopes they might have had, and despite gaining a 3-1 revenge win over Virginia Beach in the penultimate game of the season, their 2-0 defeat to Raleigh Elite on the final day left them fourth in the Mid Atlantic Division, ten points off the playoff positions. Davorin Husadzinovic was the Royals' top performer, with 4 goals and 8 assists on the season.
The Royals slumped even further in 2007, picking up just three wins all season long, and traveling across Northern Virginia to play home games in four different stadiums. The three wins - 1-0 over Delaware Dynasty, 2-0 over West Virginia Chaos and 2-1 over Reading Rage on the last day of the season - were the lone high points in an otherwise terrible season. Expansion side Fredericksburg Gunners demolished them 7-0 in their first meeting in mid-May, and put another four past them in the return meeting in late June, while Ocean City Barons, Hampton Roads Piranhas and Virginia Legacy all registered comprehensive victories during the Royals' awful mid-season period, 4-0, 5-0 and 6-1 respectively. The Royals finished the year 8th in the Mid Atlantic Division, just one point above basement-dwellers West Virginia Chaos. The team's token top scorers were Francis McCardle and James Stevens, with 3 goals each. Long-time head coach Silvino Gonzalo resigned after the home game against the Fredericksburg Gunners to take up a post with new USL2 franchise Real Maryland Monarchs, and he was replaced by former Royals goalkeeper John Pascarella.
Despite this, things didn't get any better for the Royals in 2008: just three wins, just 20 goals scored, and fifth in the Mid Atlantic Division, out of the playoffs for the third consecutive season at this level. The year actually started quite brightly when the Royals handed the Hampton Roads Piranhas their first home loss in franchise history, 1-0 off an injury-time goal from striker David Atkinson. This proved to be a false dawn, as the Royals failed to win any of their next 10 games: they lost 4-0 to Fredericksburg Gunners in their very next match, lost to them again 3-0 in early June, and frustratingly let a 2-goal lead slip in their 3-3 tie with Richmond Kickers Future. The Royals earned a little bit of revenge over Fredericksburg in early July with a tight 2-1 victory at home, and managed to beat 10-man Virginia Legacy 3-1 on the home stretch, but these were small highlights, and the bigger picture was yet another disappointing one. Matthew Brady and AJ Sheta each scored 4 of the Royals' 20 goals, while Irad Young contributed 3 assists. Unusually, three of the Royal's games in 2008 were abandoned due to inclement weather.
During the 2008 offseason, head coach Pascarella left the team to take up a goalkeeper coaching position with the Kansas City Wizards; he was subsequently replaced by Royals' former Super-Y League coach Tom Torres.
The 2009 season was a disappointment for the Royals, they collected 11 points in posting a 2-9-5 record with a 17-34 goal difference. Their only wins being 3-0 over the West Virginia Chaos and 2-0 over the Virginia Legacy both of which were at home. The leading goalscorers were David Atkinson with 6 goals, and Maurice Hughes with 5 goals. They started off well with a Jonathan Romero goal earning them a 1-1 draw away to Reading Rage, one of only 3 regular season games the Rage never won. Reality soon sat in though as home and away defeats to the Cary Clarets, 3-1 at home and a trio of poor officials saw them lose 6-1 down in North Carolina. An entertaining 1-1 draw at home to Hampton Roads Piranhas was followed by a narrow 1-0 away defeat to local rivals Fredericksburg Gunners. May was closed out with a pair of weekend games at Virginia Legacy the first a 0-0 draw, the second a 4-0 defeat. June saw the side travel down to the Carolina Dynamo where their bad luck with Tarheel officials saw them lose 3-1. Then began a run of four home games which saw them beat the West Virginia Chaos 3-0, draw 1-1 with the Fredericksburg Gunners, then lose 3-1 to the Carolina Dynamo and squander a 2-goal lead in a 3-2 defeat to the Reading Rage. July's games ended with a 2-1 defeat to West Virginia Chaos which saw David Atkinson score the first penalty the team had been awarded in their PDL time. A 2-0 win over the Virginia Legacy was their last success of the campaign, with a 4-0 loss to the Reading Rage and a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Hampton Roads Piranhas rounding out the season. The final loss was made all the more gruelling as the team took up to 7 hours to travel the short journey down to Virginia Beach due to traffic congestion and accidents on I-95, I-295, I-64 and at the I-64 tunnel. The team had to start the delayed game with some of their starters still stuck in traffic.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former players
This list of notable former players comprises players who went on to play professional soccer after playing for the team in the Premier Development League, or those who previously played professionally before joining the team.
|Year||Division||League||Regular Season||Playoffs||Open Cup|
|1998||3||USISL D-3 Pro League||7th, Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|1999||3||USL D-3 Pro League||4th, Atlantic||Conference Semifinals||1st Round|
|2000||3||USL D-3 Pro League||7th, Southern||Did not qualify||2nd Round|
|2001||3||USL D-3 Pro League||4th, Southern||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2002||3||USL D-3 Pro League||4th, Southern||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2003||3||USL Pro Select League||3rd, Southern||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2004||3||USL Pro Soccer League||3rd, Southern||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2005||3||USL Second Division||9th||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2006||4||USL PDL||4th, Mid Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2007||4||USL PDL||7th, Mid Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2008||4||USL PDL||5th, Mid Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2009||4||USL PDL||7th, Mid Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2010||4||USL PDL||5th, Mid Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2011||4||USL PDL||2nd, South Atlantic||Conference Quarterfinals||Did not qualify|
|2012||4||USL PDL||7th, South Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2013||4||USL PDL||3rd, South Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2014||4||USL PDL||6th, Mid Atlantic||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
Silvino Gonzalo (1998–2007) John Pascarella (2007–2008) Tom Torres (2009–2010) Richie Burke (2011–2012)
- Stadium at Forest Park High School; Woodbridge, Virginia (2002–2005)
- RFK Memorial Stadium; Washington, DC 1 game (2003)
- Ida Lee Park; Leesburg, Virginia 1 game (2003)
- Stadium at Trinity University; Washington, DC 3 games (2005)
- Stadium at Gar-Field High School; Woodbridge, Virginia (2006–2007)
- Valley View Sports Complex; Nokesville, Virginia 2 games (2006–2007)
- Stadium at Fairfax High School; Fairfax, Virginia (2006–08, 2011)
- Word of Grace Christian Center; Herndon, Virginia 1 game (2006)
- Robinson Field at George Mason University; Fairfax, Virginia (2007, 2010, 2011)
- Stadium at Washington-Lee High School; Arlington, Virginia 1 game (2008)
- Stadium at Wakefield High School; Arlington, Virginia 1 game (2008)
- Howison Homestead Soccer Complex; Woodbridge, Virginia 3 games (2008)
- Hellwig Memorial Field Stadium; Manassas, Virginia 11 games (2009–present)
Attendance stats are calculated by averaging each team's self-reported home attendances from the historical match archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20100105175057/http://www.uslsoccer.com/history/index_E.html.
- 2006: 362
- 2007: 581
- 2008: not yet available
- 2009: 319
- 2010: not yet available
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2011-05-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2011-05-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Royals Hire Burke as PDL Coach