TAMPA, Fla. – The Premier Development League announced on Monday the addition of Corpus Christi FC for the 2018 season. The fourth expansion team to be announced this offseason, Corpus Christi FC becomes the sixth Texas-based club set to compete in the PDL, bringing national soccer to the Coastal Bend region of the state.
“After our earlier announcement of the AHFC Royals, we are thrilled to expand our presence in the state of Texas with Corpus Christi FC,” said PDL Director Todd Eason. “The club will bring a world-class soccer experience to a wonderful community and will provide an avenue for future professionals to hone their craft and gain exposure on a national landscape.”
Corpus Christi FC will be owned and operated by Dr. Kingsley Okonkwo, a pediatrician local to the area. He leads Corpus Christi FC with a blend of passion for the sport and a deep love of the community, intent on turning the club into a source of pride for the region. Leading the team will be Head Coach Sammy Giraldo, also a Corpus Christi-local, who holds a U.S. Soccer Federation "A" License.
“We are very excited to receive expansion rights for a PDL team here in Corpus Christi, Texas,” said Club President Dr. Okonkwo. “This gives us another avenue to engage and provide affordable entertainment to the community. We hope to rally the community behind the Corpus Christi FC and provide a high level of professionalism both on and off the field.”
“The enthusiasm and determination that Dr. Okonkwo has shown from day one to create a team for the community gives us complete confidence that Corpus Christi FC will provide the Coastal Bend region with excellent entertainment,” said PDL Director of Business Development Joel Nash. “From his partnership with the Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) Innovation Center and the university’s Department of Athletics, we have confidence this will be a team of which Corpus Christi can be proud.”
Corpus Christi FC becomes the fourth expansion team to be announced for the 2018 PDL season, joining a to-be-named Birmingham club, the AHFC Royals, and Lansing United as previously announced teams. The team is currently scheduling meetings with potential sponsors for their inaugural season, with announcements to come as agreements are signed.
Corpus Christi FC also becomes the sixth Texas-based team set to compete in the league, joining the aforementioned AHFC Royals, Brazos Valley Cavalry F.C., FC Cleburne, Houston FC and Texas United in a burgeoning area of growth for the PDL.
“Corpus Christi FC should be exciting for every local athlete and supporter, as it gives a direct pathway to professional soccer and provides the community the unique chance of creating and molding something special for many years to come,” said Giraldo. “This is an opportunity for elite soccer athletes in the Coastal Bend and the surrounding areas to continue their development and potentially make the jump to the USL and MLS or other professional systems.”
“We have the people in place to create a thriving, professional environment, and we can’t wait to see what this organization can become and do for this community,” said Dr. Okonkwo. “Soccer is thriving, and it’s time the Coastal Bend gets a team that can compete on a national scale and attract some of the best athletes and future professionals.”
The team will play its home matches at Dr. Jack A. Dugan Family Soccer Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi. The Corpus Christi-area has a rich soccer history, with more than 70 youth teams and a local amateur men’s league comprising more than 70 clubs as well. In 2010, the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer played former PDL member the Laredo Heat in a friendly in Corpus Christi that drew more than 7,000 fans.
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.