After being named No. 1 on the first two editions of the 2017 Premier Development League Top Prospects list, Darwin Espinal has moved on to the professional level after officially joining the United Soccer League's Reno 1868 FC on Wednesday.
Including standout performances in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup's First and Second Rounds, Espinal provided two assists in the PDL campaign before joining Reno.
“Darwin Espinal is a talented forward and was able to showcase his abilities to a national audience using the Premier Development League and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this season,” PDL Director Todd Eason told USLPDL.com. “We were able to identify and highlight him on the PDL Top Prospects list using the insight from the USL Scouting Network, and we are happy to see yet another high-performing PDL player move on to the professional ranks. We wish him success as moves from the South Florida Surf to Reno 1868 FC and are eager to see the impact he makes with his new club in the USL and beyond.”
Created in 2015, the PDL Top Prospects list has identified and highlighted numerous Under-23 talents within the league before they made their professional debuts. Among the notable alumni named to the lists include Philadelphia Union talents Keegan Rosenberry and Adam Najem, New York Red Bulls midfielder Arun Basuljevic, Toronto FC midfielder Sergio Camargo, Real Salt Lake midfielder Jose Hernandez and Chicago Fire defender Brandon Vincent.
The USL Scouting Network is made up of 24 scouts, which includes head coaches, technical directors and coaching directors, across North America. The network provides the PDL with valuable insight on players based on their performance and impact in the PDL, their technical and tactical qualities and their potential to play at the professional level.
“He can score goals from wide, and he’s a good pick up for us,” Reno 1868 FC Head Coach Ian Russell said. “We’re going to ease him in, see how he progresses and hopefully he can get into a starting role.”
The 22-year-old has made multiple appearances for the Honduras Under-23 Men's National Team, recently participating in 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship.
“Darwin was the top-rated player in the PDL and has tremendous upside,” said Andy Smith, General Manager for Reno 1868 FC. “His ability to take people on one-on-one adds a new dynamic to our team.”