TAMPA, Fla. – The PDL announced on Friday it had awarded a new franchise to The Villages, Fla. for the 2016 season. The club will be led by Dr. Maen Hussein and Anderson DaSilva, with the club’s logo and colors set to be unveiled in a special presentation on Saturday afternoon.
“We are pleased to welcome The Villages to the PDL,” said league director Todd Eason. “Anderson DaSilva has had notable success not only in putting strong teams on the field in the past in the PDL, but has also helped players move onto the professional ranks. We are pleased to have him and Maen Hussein leading this new club.”
Over the past eight years, The Villages Soccer Club has provided an outlet for young local players in both competitive and recreational soccer. With the establishment of a new PDL club, Hussein is looking forward to providing a higher level of competition for the top young players in the region as they look to join the professional ranks.
“We are very excited to bring a PDL franchise to The Villages, as we seek to build a pathway for the top local talent in the area,” said Hussein. “As our youth soccer environment has grown, the need for a higher level of competition for those players looking to continue their development toward the professional ranks became clear. The PDL will offer that, and also high-level competition for local soccer fans as well.”
The highest level of amateur soccer in North America, the PDL has a history dating back more than two decades that has helped top-level players rise to the professional ranks. Among the PDL’s alumni are players such as U.S. Men’s National Team members Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes and Geoff Cameron. More than 200 PDL alumni competed in the 2015 Major League Soccer season, with another group of league alumni set to begin their professional paths next week at the MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore, Md.
The PDL has provided a major development platform for future professional players, with 12 of the league’s current membership being owned and operated by an MLS or USL club, or holding a partnership with an MLS or USL club. 70 percent of the players selected in the MLS SuperDraft over the past seven years are PDL alumni, while Homegrown Players such as Gyasi Zardes, Harry Shipp, Darwin Jones and Jay Chapman also competed in the league on their path to the professional ranks.
The PDL has received strong support from both Major League Soccer and the USL as it provides a proven pathway to the professional ranks for top college-aged players in North America.
The proven developmental leader in North American soccer's evolving tiered structure, the 2015 PDL season featured 63 teams within four conferences throughout the United States and Canada, including 10 teams affiliated with the USL or Major League Soccer clubs. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with 70 percent of all MLS draftees having PDL experience. The PDL provides elite collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions.