Rojas, Reyes, Franca to suit up for sister-franchise Lakeland Tropics in PDL this summer

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND – Three more key members from the Florida Tropics SC of the Major Arena Soccer League have been inked to play this summer for the Lakeland Tropics of the USL's Premier Develoopment League, which has its home opener Saturday, May 20 at Bryant Stadium.

Victor Rojas, J.P. Reyes and Maycon Franca are all expected to suit up for Lakeland, pending league approval, during its 14-game season which runs from May to June.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring these three skilled players over from the indoor side. They all certainly had opportunities to go elsewhere to play outdoors, but chose to stay right here in Lakeland,” Tropics majority owner Dr. Panos Iakovidis noted. “That says a lot about our city, and the type of franchise we are starting to build, both on an off the field.”

Rojas was tied for fifth in goal for the Florida Tropics with eight, and added three assists, in 18 games in the MASL this past season. A native of Venezuela, after he moved to North America, Rojas found himself playing for the reserve and U18 teams of one of Major League Soccer’s most successful franchises, the Seattle Sounders. After spending time developing with the Sounders, Rojas moved south to play for Coras FC, which is in the 2nd division of professional soccer in Mexico. After gaining professional experience in Mexico, Rojas moved back to the U.S. to play for the Jacksonville Armada of the the North American Soccer League

Reyes was a steadying influence on the defense, and was one of five Florida Tropics players to play all 20 games for during their inaugural season. He was second on the team in blocks (28) and chipped in with two goals and two assists.  He previously has played in the PDL with the Central Florida Kraze and Cocoa Expos, and the Tampa Maurauders of the NPSL.

The speedy Franca appeared in 12 games for the Florida Tropics, with a goal and four assists. A native of Brazil, the 23-year old has won awards such as the São Paulo federation Gold Shoe in 2010 (best player of the year) and the Silver Ball as top scorer of the São Paulo federation in 2011.

Tickets for all seven home games, including six Saturday night starts under the lights, are available online at (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 team will also hold an open tryout for area players on Saturday, April 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information or to register, call the Tropics office at 863-240-0101.

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.