The New York Dutch Lions Get Back to the Basics
Published May 26, 2023
Written By: Ryan Wood / WPSL Correspondent


The Dutch Lions organization had already successfully established itself with women’s teams in Ohio, Illinois, D.C., California, and Florida before another major market welcomed it in 2022 as New York made its WPSL debut.

After a winless season in a stacked Metropolitan Conference, the New York Dutch Lions FC is ready to notch win number one and compete with the likes of Downtown United Soccer Club, Brooklyn City F.C., and New York Athletic Club, who finished first through third, respectively, last summer.

“Of course, one of the goals is to perform better than last year, but our overall goal is to help and guide each individual player in their development,” Rogier Schultz, New York Dutch Lions FC head coach, said. “We have them for a short amount of time and we can only try to help each player in her development to be a more complete player and bring the experience back to their university team and/or club.”

The Dutch Lions opened preseason training in mid-May with sights set on its June 3rd season opener at STA – a team that placed fifth with a 4-3-1-mark last year. Schultz approached the first training of the season with a focus greater on mentality than on tactics.

“First of all, we do things with a smile. Some players didn't have a good season at their club or university [so] for those, it is important to get back the joy of soccer,” Schultz said. “We can talk about development all day long, but without enjoying the game that is useless.”

The Dutch Lions have a special approach to its style of play as it utilizes Dutch philosophy. Rather than pushing this strategy on its players, Schultz made it a point to include his players within this approach by discussing their personal goals he will implement into this unique strategy.

The Dutch influence isn’t just in the Lions’ philosophy or game plan – the roster itself has Dutch ties. Amongst the newcomers for 2023 is 18-year-old midfielder Daantje Klomp (Tennessee Wesleyan University) of Tienhoven, Netherlands. The Lions’ new additions will also feature other international talents like English midfielder Mia Cinque who is a former youth international and Tottenham Hotspur.

Returning players include Japanese goalkeeper Mio Nakajima (Wilmington University), who Schultz says has the mental and technical ingredients to become a complete player, and UK native Kaya Pottinger who spent time within the Manchester City and Everton academies.

It will take more than talent and notable club ties to be enough for the Lions to have a successful season though. Schultz’s players will need to learn to play with discomfort because “the process of understanding how and why [the Lions] play could take them out of their comfort zone.”

Now, with the debut season behind it, the Lions can focus on year two and rebuild the rhythm and glue that unifies the roster on and off the field. After taking over the recruiting side, Schultz has put together a depth of players that can become universal assets on the field that allow him to move players into different positions because it “suits more to [their] individual qualities” – opening the door for greater player growth and development.

With the start of the 2023 season on the immediate horizon the Lions look forward to reintroducing itself to the league and competition. Schultz’s team will face its first big test of the season as they play two road games against STA and New York Athletic Club back-to-back on opening weekend.