TAMPA, Fla. – Ahead of the 23rd season of the Premier Development League, the USL Scouting Network has improved and expanded its talent evaluation reach across North America heading into the new season.
A total of 22 scouts, including coaching directors, technical directors and head coaches, will provide the PDL with exclusive insight on top performers in the league this summer. This will serve as a valuable resource for professional clubs as they look to add high-caliber players to their rosters.
“Outside of the strategic growth of the network in targeted markets across the divisions, the PDL has aligned its scouting terminology, player profile and overall identification process with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s,” USL Vice President of Competition & Technical Development Gordon Bengtson said. “This was done in an effort to standardize our method and ensure that our talent evaluators are on the same page throughout the season.”
Using the USL Scouting Network’s insights, the league’s website, www.USLPDL.com, will highlight the best players throughout the PDL season with its bi-weekly PDL Top Prospects list. The regularly-updated list will rank the top 50 players in the league based on players’ form within the league, technical and tactical qualities and potential to play at the professional level.
"The USL Scouting Network helps USL and MLS staffs with more information as they prepare for the draft and plan their roster formation,” Sounders FC U23 General Manager and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky said. “With each year, these players have more opportunities and there are more teams looking to win trophies. This network is another tool for high-level coaches to differentiate and select players.
"The PDL has provided the spring and summer option for a vast pool of talented college players that need that extra time period in their development,” added Sawatzky, who will serve as a scout for the Mountain, Northwest and Southwest regions. “The MLS SuperDraft is riddled with PDL players, and the USL grows each year benefitting from the work done at the PDL level."
Since its creation in 2015, the USL Scouting Network has helped identify many talented players before they made their professional debuts in the USL and MLS. More than 330 alumni currently compete in the USL, while 210 former players – including 2015 No. 1 PDL Top Prospect Keegan Rosenberry – play in MLS.
As the proven pathway for elite players, the PDL continues to be the best choice for college-aged standouts. The 2017 MLS SuperDraft saw 59 PDL alums – more than any other amateur league in North America – selected. More than 100 former PDL players, such as U.S. National Team and Newcastle United FC talent DeAndre Yedlin, also compete professionally outside of the U.S. and Canada.
“The vast majority of current North American professional players, and a number of current members on the U.S. Men’s National Team, have PDL experience. So, it’s clear that the players in the PDL each year are of the highest quality underneath the professional ranks,” Bengtson said. “Given the rate of growth we are currently experiencing across all levels of the game in North America, it is vitally important that we leave no stone unturned in the talent identification process in support of both professional and national team programs.
“We seek to find the next Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, DeAndre Yedlin or Geoff Cameron playing in the PDL today because they could very well be playing in the USL, MLS or for one of the U.S. Men’s National Teams tomorrow. This alignment is an important benchmark in the continued evolution of the USL Scouting Network.”