Photo courtesy of Albuquerque Sol F.C.
While the Premier Development League serves as a platform for talented college-aged players to develop and gain exposure, Albuquerque Sol F.C. Head Coach Matt Gordon thinks the league also offers him – and other PDL coaches across North America – a chance to learn and improve.
Gordon has been a part of Sol F.C. since January 2014, joining the club initially as an assistant coach under Chris Cartlidge. Following the club’s first PDL campaign, Cartlidge stepped down, and up stepped Gordon, who led the team to a second-place finish in the 2015 Mountain Division and a PDL Playoffs berth.
“The draw of competing at a high level, working with elite players each day and integrating local youth players into an elite-level environment are some of the many reasons why I’m still involved with Sol F.C.,” Gordon told USLPDL.com. “We’ve done a lot of work away from the field to help the culture in the club and help players feel wanted and looked after.”
In his time with the club, Gordon – who also serves as the Under 15-19 Boys Director for Rio Rapids Soccer Club – has helped the development of many talented players. Nick Miele, who played for Seattle Sounders FC 2, and current Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC midfielder Ricardo Perez are among the standouts to have played for Gordon.
However, the players are not the only ones who are developing in the PDL, the 30-year-old Gordon says.
“It’s probably fair to say that I’m amongst the younger coaches in the league in terms of age, and the learning curve, personally, has been a fantastic journey so far,” Gordon added. “I have my own goals as a professional, but the PDL is certainly proving to be an important part of my growth.
“The league creates an incredible network of contacts across the nation and often across the world. I’ve been lucky enough to create strong working relationships with several coaches who are either still in the league or have moved on to the professional ranks.”
While Gordon may be one of the younger coaches across the PDL, he says the culture created by Sol F.C., as well as the support shown by the community, has pushed him to become a better leader.
“Our staff is second to none,” Gordon said. “There are a lot of people here who go above and beyond for the players needs as well as the franchise.
“We want to put a brand of soccer on the field which our fans can be proud of. There’s a level of trust which comes with that brand, and I think that our culture is key to that. We’d love another playoff run, we got there a couple of years ago, and we want to be back in that environment.”
Sol F.C. is a member of the Mountain Division for the 2017 PDL regular season. The club kicked off its campaign against FC Tucson in Week 3 and will look to earn its first win of the year vs. the BYU Cougars on Saturday (7:30 p.m. MT, Watch Live).
“We all understand the work which is required to get out of our conference,” Gordon said. “FC Tucson, FC Boulder, Rapids U23 and BYU make it a fantastic conference to play in, and there are challenges which come with that. Collectively, we’re a committed group of staff and players and we’re looking forward to that challenge.