Photo by Chris Coulter/K-W United FC
K-W United FC has not been in the PDL long, but the Canadian side has recently experienced success and is looking to be a top-tier development club for years to come.
K-W United is the reigning PDL champion, having beaten New York Red Bulls U23, 4-3, in the final at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington, on Aug. 2, 2015. Among the many talented players to come through the team include D.C. United's Julian Buescher, Portland Timbers 2's Ben Polk and Toronto FC's Jay Chapman.
The team, founded in 2010 as Hamilton Rage FC, rebranded and relocated following the 2012 PDL season. The move benefited K-W United, as the team finished in fourth place in the Great Lakes Division in 2013 before qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in team history in 2014. A year later, K-W United lifted the PDL title.
So what has made this club so successful in recent years? A variety of reasons, according to K-W United President Barry MacLean.
"I think the biggest factor is the family feel of the club and the players knowing that we care about them as players and as people," President MacLean said.
"I also think the location is perfect for the players in that K-W is one of the hottest technology areas in the world, it has great academic institutions and it’s a young, hip, vibrant place. I think it is the perfect storm for developing players."
MacLean has enjoyed watching former players, such as Chapman, thrive at higher levels of the game. The Toronto FC midfielder is also a Canadian international, having played four games for the Under-23 team during the 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship.
"The club wants to continue to evolve and continue to produce players. We would like to be the go-to option for Canadian players," MacLean said.
"We are interested in the players' development as people off the pitch, and we create a demanding environment for the players on the pitch."
That demanding environment has seen K-W United develop into a team to watch each and every year. Captain and rising senior at Coastal Carolina University Sergio Camargo has enjoyed a solid college career, and was a part of the K-W United team that won the PDL a season ago. He, like others before him, looks set to make the move to the next level and join K-W United alumni in the professional game.
"The PDL is the best development league in North America, and it provides a great barometer as to how the players and club are evolving," MacLean said. "Great competition and quality in a well organized league."