TAMPA, Fla. – Adding to the Premier Development League’s Midwestern presence, Kaw Valley FC will join the league as a new member club for the upcoming 2018 season. The Kansas-based club becomes the eighth new club added for next year and will compete in the Heartland Division with 2017 PDL runners-up Thunder Bay Chill.
“The Premier Development League is thrilled to be growing its strong Midwest profile in the Central Conference with the addition of Kaw Valley FC,” said PDL Co-Director Mike Panter. “Joining clubs like the Thunder Bay Chill, Des Moines Menace and Michigan Bucks, we believe Kaw Valley FC will add to a long legacy of success in the region and will provide another positive development pathway for future professionals.”
“Kaw Valley FC’s mission is to enrich lives and connect communities through the sport of soccer,” said Kaw Valley FC President and General Manager Marcus Dudley. “We feel that the PDL represents a tremendous opportunity to not only grow the game that we love but to further fulfill our mission by providing a fun, exciting and family-friendly environment for our entire community to share.”
Founded in 1982, Sporting Kaw Valley is an official Academy Affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City and is one of the largest and most successful clubs in Kansas.
“We are very excited about the unmatched level of competition, organization and professionalism offered by the PDL,” said Sporting Kaw Valley and Kaw Valley FC Board President Chad Zimmerman. “The introduction of Kaw Valley FC represents a dramatic expansion of opportunities for our youth players, bridging the developmental pathway to professional soccer, providing unprecedented interactions with top-tier players and coaching experiences and connecting our communities in new and exciting ways.”
Established as a non-profit organization, Sporting Kaw Valley provides opportunities for nearly 3,000 children from ages three to 19 to compete in recreational, academy and competitive soccer programs each year. The addition of a PDL team to the club’s profile further expands the opportunities provided to players as they further develop on the path to professionalism.
“Kaw Valley FC represents one of the most unique yet robust models the PDL has ever been blessed to work with,” said Joel Nash, the USL’s Director of Business Development. “You have an MLS youth affiliate furthering its pyramid by owning a PDL team. The new team will also collaborate with Kansas University, which will provide extensive management support through its Sports Management department. Further that with community engagement, by way of dual venues to encompass both the Topeka and Lawrence communities, and the Kaw Valley is in for a top-class soccer team.”
Kaw Valley FC becomes the eighth expansion club announced to begin play in 2018, joining a to-be-named Birmingham franchise, the AHFC Royals, Lansing United, Corpus Christi FC, Lionsbridge FC, Ogden City SC and SF Glens SC as previously announced teams.
A part of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II USL, the newly-announced USL Division III 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, 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia, 2017 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara and U.S. Men’s National Team members such as Darlington Nagbe, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream.