TAMPA, Fla. – The PDL announced on Tuesday it has awarded a new franchise in the Los Angeles area as Pasadena-based FC Golden State joins the league for the 2016 season.
“FC Golden State has been pivotal in player development over the years, making its footprint from U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy to the professional and international ranks,” PDL Director Todd Eason said. “With the extended focus on older-aged players, FC Golden State Force will be an exciting entity to work with in the PDL as the club looks to develop the next tier of professional players.”
The team will be managed by FC Golden State Force General Manager Jon Spencer. Spencer has been involved in the United Soccer League and PDL since 2008, having managed a number of top PDL players. That list includes six players selected in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft: TJ Casner, Wade Hamilton, Zach Mathers, Michael Salazar, Keegan Smith and Eric Verso.
“We are excited about the next step in the development of FC Golden State in our quest to build a strong soccer foundation in Southern California,” Spencer said. “The PDL is a proven environment where we can continue to provide our players a path to professional soccer. This franchise gives local and national collegiate-aged players the opportunity to prepare for the next steps in their career and still maintain their eligibility. Our players will be in a program set up to develop and prepare them for success both on and off the field.”
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 following the 2016 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. Seventy 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.