Number of Tropics announced for PDL Lakeland team now up to eight as season starts May 11

by Brian Ackley

The total number of Florida Tropics players expected to suit up for their sister franchise Lakeland Tropics in the USL's Premier Development League has grown to eight with the announcement of three more arena players who are expected to suit up for the fast-approaching outdoor season.

Alexi Cortez, Julian Pavlovski and Jonathan Valerio are the lastest members of the Major Arena Soccer League side that are expected to play for Lakeland this summer, pending league approval. Previously Florida Tropics players announced as committing to the PDL side include Ricardo Diegues, Victor Parreiras, Victor Rojas, J.P. Reyes and Maycon Franca.

Cortez is another player with local roots, having spent his last three college seasons at Florida Southern. As a senior, Cortez started every game and scored three goals as a holding midfielder. During his youth, Cortez attended Al Sousa at Osceola High School in Largo, Florida, where he received First Team All-Pinellas County awards both his junior and senior year.

He scored 21 goals in his prep career, including nine as a senior captain, along with 12 assists. On the club side, Cortez played for the renowned Tampa Bay United. He appeared in three games with the Florida Tropics, recording one block.

Pavlovski, a native of Rochester, N.Y, played high school soccer at Lake Howell High in Winter Park. He  has played for a number of top Central Florida Clubs, such as East Orange, Central Florida Craze and most recently Orlando City Premier.

Valerio, a goalkeeper, who was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, began playing soccer at an early age as a member of Club Sport Herediano, a professional soccer team of the Costa Rica First Division. Valerio also spent time with clubs Club Sport Uruguay and Escazu FC. After gaining professional experience in Costa Rica, Valerio moved to the United States to join the NPSL team Buxmont Torch FC. Valerio has also spent time with the Tampa Bay Rowdies NPSL team.

Lakeland will open its first-ever regular season on May 11 on the road against Miami City FC, with the home opener set for Saturday, May 20. Tickets for all seven home games, including six Saturday night starts under the lights, are available online at www.lakelandtropics.com (or by calling 863-240-0101). More information on the team and season, including the complete 14-game schedule can be found at the team's website as well.

The proven developmental leader in North American soccer's evolving tiered structure, the Premier Development League features 72 franchises in four conferences throughout the United States and Canada, including 16 clubs that are owned and operated by a professional club, or that hold a partnership with a professional club. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with nearly 70 percent of all MLS selections since 2010 having PDL experience. The PDL provides elite and collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions.