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Amateur notes: GLPL rebrands itself as Premier League of America

12/09/2015, 7:30pm CST
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Less than a year after the Great Lakes Premier League was created and launched by five clubs, including Franklin's Croatian Eagles, its members had to re-evaluate their ultimate goals for the amateur men's league.

Namely, they see a very bright future for the league, one that reaches well beyond the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois. As a result, the league has changed its name to the Premier League of America.

In a news release this week announcing the move, the league said the new moniker was needed "to better identify with the league's long-term goals."

The PLA also announced changes to its competitive structure for 2016. Teams will be split into two divisions, which are expected to be set up geographically, and the top teams from each division will vie for the PLA championship at a tournament in late July – the other league teams will play consolation matches at the event.

The league currently consists of seven teams. The Croatians, Chicago's RWB Adria and Oakland United from Rochester, Mich., are the remaining charter members, and they've been joined by four expansion teams: Glendale's Bavarian SC, the Madison 56ers, Ole SC from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Ohio's Toledo United.

However, more expansion teams will be announced in the coming weeks, according to the release, which noted that the 2015 season "led to incredible interest in the league from across the country, far surpassing the GLPL's original vision."

PLA members also decided to eliminate commissioner Keith Karbo's position "to ensure the league is managed by its clubs and not by a third party." Instead, the president of the PLA Board of Trustees will act as the de facto commissioner.

  • The Croatians have announced their first three signings for the 2016 PLA season: striker Edison Crespo (Milwaukee Hamilton/UW-Milwaukee), midfielder Alex Tozer (Whitefish Bay Dominican) and defender Cheikh "Papi" Drame. Crespo, who turns 24 later this month, came up through the club's youth teams and had a goal and four assists for the Eagles in GLPL play last season. Tozer, the son of former Milwaukee Wave coach Keith Tozer, played for the Muskegon (Mich.) Risers last summer and is with the Cedar Rapids Rampage in the Major Arena Soccer League this winter after spending last season with the Wave. He's also the Milwaukee Pius High School boys coach and on the Croatians' youth coaching staff. Drame is a native of Senegal and anchored the Eagles' backline during the second half of the GLPL season last year, and he also is a youth team coach for the club.
  • Former University of Wisconsin coach and Major League Soccer assistant Jim Launder (UW-Milwaukee), who coached the 56ers for all 11 of their seasons in the National Premier Soccer League, will remain in that position as the team moves to the PLA. General manager Cristian Brei also will continue in his role and will serve as Launder's assistant next season.
  • Second-seeded Green Bay Team Miller (13-2-1) won the Northern Wisconsin Soccer League Premier Division title, posting a 4-2 victory over No. 1 seed Yale United (12-3-3) in the final Oct. 25. In Division I, top-seeded Westchester United (12-4-0) claimed the title with a 1-0 victory over DC Express (8-5-3). NWSL website 

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