TAMPA, Fla. – The PDL announced Nashville SC U23, set to begin play in 2017, as the newest franchise on Tuesday. The Nashville SC U23 will be owned and operated by Nashville SC, which formally joined the USL in July and is scheduled to begin play in 2018.
“We are excited to have another franchise owned and operated by a USL team,” PDL Director Todd Eason said. “The PDL has provided a proven pathway to the pros for more than two decades, and the addition of Nashville SC U23 will continue to help spur the development of young, college-aged players in Tennessee and the region as a whole.”
The Nashville SC ownership group includes LifePoint Health President and COO David Dill, Provider Trust co-founder Chris Redhage and Marcus Whitney, the founder and president of Jumpstart Foundry.
With the addition of Nashville SC U23, there are 12 PDL members owned and operated by a USL or Major League Soccer club. Nashville SC U23 will make more announcements in the months ahead of its 2017 inaugural season, including updates on a home facility.
“Launching this amateur team in 2017 will allow us to build a pool of players to select for contracts for our 2018 professional season," Redhage said. "Also, one of the questions we have heard most frequently from Nashville SC fans is whether they will have a team to support in 2017. We’re excited to see Nashville cheer on its Nashville SC U23 squad in 2017 and for years to come.”
Nashville SC has also announced a partnership with the Tennessee State Soccer Association (TSSA), which includes more than 51,000 registered players across the state. The introduction of a PDL franchise alongside the partnership with TSSA has created a first-of-its-kind soccer development pyramid in Tennessee.
The highest level of amateur soccer in North America, the PDL has a 22-year history helping top-level players rise to the professional ranks. Among the PDL’s alumni are players such as U.S. Men’s National Team members Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes and Geoff Cameron, as well as budding MLS stars in Keegan Rosenberry and Brandon Vincent.
The PDL has provided a major development platform for future professional players, as more than 200 PDL alumni competed in the 2016 Major League Soccer season and 40 percent of current USL players have PDL experience. Seventy percent of the players selected in the MLS SuperDraft over the past seven years are PDL alumni, while Homegrown Players such as Gyasi Zardes, Harry Shipp, Darwin Jones and Jay Chapman also competed in the league on their path to the professional ranks.