TAMPA, Fla. – Bryan-College Station, Texas, will be home to a new Premier Development League franchise, set to begin play in 2017, with a multi-year affiliation with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. The franchise will be led by Uri Geva, Co-Owner and President of the Brazos Valley Bombers – a collegiate baseball team that competes in the Texas Collegiate League – and Bombers Co-Owner and Managing Partner Chris Clark.
“Expansion into Texas is exciting for the Premier Development League,” PDL Director Todd Eason said. “Uri Geva has a great understanding of what it takes to run a successful franchise, and we’re looking forward to his experience translating to our league. With the unique partnership his team has with the Houston Dynamo, we believe his club will be a great model that other PDL franchises can benefit from.”
The Brazos Valley-based teams become the 15th PDL franchise to be owned and operated by a United Soccer League or Major League Soccer club, or hold a partnership with a USL or MLS club, ahead of the 2017 season.
Under the direction of Geva, the franchise will be a part of the Mid South Division and play its home matches at Nutrabolt Stadium. Geva graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Texas A&M University – based in College Station – before launching Infinity Sports & Entertainment, a social media and web solutions digital agency. Geva has also served as the President of the Texas Collegiate League since 2008.
“The world's game is coming to Bryan-College Station,” Geva said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to introduce a whole new audience to the game I love, while showcasing how we provide entertainment around soccer so that anyone can have a good time at Nutrabolt Stadium.
“Success is never guaranteed; however, our 10-plus years of experience operating the Brazos Valley Bombers baseball team from the Texas Collegiate League will provide tremendous opportunities for the new PDL team. Our focus of nine innings of entertainment will easily adhere to 90 minutes of fun. Our staff is excited and eager to get the word out, and utilizing the great relationships we have established on the baseball side will be so helpful in expediting the process.”
The Dynamo and Brazos Valley franchise will have a hybrid affiliation, meaning the MLS club will be responsible for selecting the players while Geva and his staff will handle the day-to-day operations. James Clarkson, who holds a Union of European Football Associations “A” Coaching License and a U.S. Soccer Federation “A” Coaching License, is the current Director of Player Development for the Dynamo and will serve as the Head Coach of the new PDL franchise in 2017. The team name and logo will be revealed at a later date.
“We are very pleased to form this unique partnership between the Houston Dynamo and the Brazos Valley franchise, while providing an outstanding platform for our players to compete in the Premier Development League,” said Houston Dynamo Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. “This is an exciting initiative for Houston Dynamo to bridge the gap in development between our U-18’s and our USL team in a highly competitive environment, while completing the development structure for the technical side of our club.”
A part of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II USL and Super Y League, the PDL has proven to be an important steppingstone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with nearly 70 percent of all MLS draftees since 2010 having PDL experience. U.S. Men’s National Team members Keegan Rosenberry, Steve Birnbaum, Matt Hedges, Darlington Nagbe and Perry Kitchen are among the many alums to have played in the PDL.
More than 200 PDL alums, including 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris, were a part of the 2016 MLS regular season, while more than 350 PDL alums took part in the 2016 USL regular season.