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Four Players Heading for Professional Trial with MLS


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Hopefully something will come out of this and a new door will be opened to allow for more Canadians in MLS


LONDON, Ont. - Four members of FC LONDON are headed south-west to spend some time with the Kansas City Wizards of the MLS (Major League Soccer), the premier professional soccer league in the North America.

Ryan Woods, Alan McGreal, Haris Cekic (London) and Luke Holmes will be spending the week on a trial with the Wizards, practicing daily with the team and attending their home game on August 8, against Real Salt Lake.

The opportunity for the four FC LONDON stars is a big one, and reinforces the purpose of the PDL (Professional Development League) and FC LONDON as a ’shop-window’ for professional teams such as the Kansas City Wizards.

“Our mandate in starting FC LONDON was to create opportunities for these players” says Ian Campbell, CEO and majority owner of FC LONDON, “Giving these players a chance to show their stuff and to practice with players as talented as those at KC makes everything we do worthwhile. We hope this is the start of an ongoing relationship with the Wizards.”

The team, coached by Peter Vermes plays in the MLS Eastern Conference and currently boasts a record of 5-8-4 this season. The Wizards won the MLS Cup in 2000 and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open in 2004.

Putting this trial together was the original brainchild of Assistant Coach Rahim Mohamed and Head Coach Martin Painter who met John Pascarella at the NAIA National Championships in Fresno, California last year while on a scouting trip for players. “John totally understood what we are doing here at FC LONDON, and the enthusiasm continued to grow in ongoing conversations between John and Rahim.” Says FC LONDON Head Coach Martin Painter. “These are four players who not only made an impact on our team, I truly believe they have the ability to play at a high professional level.”

All four members were integral parts of FC LONDON this season including their run to the playoffs where they were narrowly beaten by the Thunder Bay Chill last weekend. Woods, McGreal, Cekic and Holmes helped the team to a 10-1-5 record in the regular season and a second straight playoff birth.


Striker Luke Holmes originally from England and currently playing at Notre-Dame Ohio had an impressive first season with FC LONDON, every time he was on the field and had the ball good things would happen. Holmes played 1068 minutes this season, and finished second in points(32) and goals(14) in the entire 67 team PDL. Holmes also took honours this season as a player of the week in the final two games of the season where he scored five goals, including a game-winner. This was his first year with FC LONDON.

Ryan Woods gained caps for England at both U16 and U17 along with playing for the Blackburn Rovers Reserve team. Woods captained Embry-Riddle in the NAIA in 2009, with the team reaching the Elite Eight in the NAIA Championships and was named a First team All-American for the second straight year. He was a big part of the FC LONDON mid-field proving to be a scoring threat with defensive skill. In his 1283 minutes played, Woods scored twice this season and had five assists to go along with a stellar campaign overall. This was his first year with FC LONDON.

Haris Cekic hails from London, Ontario and has been a major force in London soccer for a number of years including an athletic scholarship to Old-Dominion Univerisity where he garnered first team College Soccer News and Soccer America All-Freshman honors, Southern Conference Freshman-of-the-year accolades and was named second team All-Southern Conference. Born in London he was a high school standout at Montalcm Secondary School, and in his 2006 season for head coach Martin Painter and AEK London in the Western Ontario Soccer League was named team most valuable player after guiding AEK London to the WOSL Championship and a perfect 18-0-0 record, the first in league history. He has trained at the National Soccer Training Center in Canada, was a member of the Bosnian U-17 National Team in 2003 and has anchored the midfield for FC LONDON for the past 2 seasons. Cekic, a free kick expert, scored one goal this season in 964 minutes played and his consistent play helped anchor a solid core through the middle of the field for FC LONDON.

Alan McGreal has been a star wherever has played. This past season at Canisius College, the forward tallied 10 goals in 19 games. McGreal has a laundry list of accolades including being the only four-time All-MAAC honouree in Canisius College history, owning the schools scoring record and both goals and assists records. With FC LONDON he has been a threat to put the ball in the net any time he touched it, and he did that seven times this season, adding four assists. McGreal put in 1087 minutes of work for FC LONDON this season and his pace and dependability made him difficult to play against and to defend. McGreal was named to the 2010 PDL All-Conference team this season as well. This was his second year with FC LONDON.

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It would be nothing new if it happened. Soccer people in Toronto often seem to be completely unaware that a worthwhile level of soccer can actually happen on the other side of the Niagara escarpment. Almost certain I used to play on the same indoor team as an older brother of Haris Cekic who played for London Bosnia in WOSL premier. No surprise that a brother of his could go a long way in the game as he had really good ball skills. Hopefully like Semir Mesanovic (Bosnian refugee from London who played in USL-D1 and the MISL) he'll opt for Canadian national teams if selected in future.

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