TAMPA, Fla. – Based in Houston, Texas, Albion Hurricanes FC will field a Premier Development League team starting in 2018, becoming the fifth Texas-based franchise set to compete next campaign. The club will be named the AHFC Royals, and will play its home matches at Campbell Road Sports Park.
“On the heels of an incredible 2017 PDL Championship, we are happy to add a strong organization in Albion Hurricanes FC,” PDL Director Todd Eason said. “The club is well-known for developing youth players on their path to the collegiate level in the Houston area, and now the AHFC Royals will be able to provide an opportunity for their high-performing amateur players to continue developing on their path to the professional ranks.”
Mark Horton, who has been a part of Albion Hurricanes FC since its inception in 2000, will serve as the Royals’ General Manager. A former youth player for English professional club Walsall FC, Horton received a degree in Sports Science at Leeds Metropolitan University in England before moving to the United States.
“Albion Hurricanes FC is delighted to announce the PDL franchise, AHFC Royals, for the 2018 season,” Horton said. “We feel the team will provide a great opportunity to connect with the club and the local communities it serves and are looking forward to engaging in a healthy rivalry between fellow local PDL teams, such as Houston FC and Brazos Valley Cavalry FC.”
The Royals join Brazos Valley Cavalry F.C., FC Cleburne, Houston FC and Texas United as Texas-based clubs set to compete next PDL campaign.
“There are many great players in the Houston area, and our aim is to provide a platform for college as well as opportunities for national exposure for those that aspire to reach the professional level,” Horton said. “The PDL is a great organization, and we are thrilled to complete the club's pathway from youth to college to pro.”
The Royals join a yet-to-be-named Birmingham-based PDL franchise as new additions to the league ahead of the 2018 season. For more information on the Royals and Albion Hurricanes FC, visit albionhurricanes.org and follow the club on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
A part of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II USL, the newly-announced Division III league and Super Y League, the PDL has served as the proven stepping-stone for aspiring professionals.
Nearly 70 percent of all MLS SuperDraft selections since 2010 have PDL experience, including a total of 59 alums chosen in 2017. Among the many players to have played in the PDL before making their professional debuts include Newcastle United FC defender DeAndre Yedlin, 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris, 2016 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Hedges and U.S. Men’s National Team members Darlington Nagbe, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream.