TAMPA, Fla. – The second new member club announced for the Southwest Division, Santa Cruz Breakers FC will compete in the Premier Development League in 2018. The California-based club will add an Under-23 team atop its U.S. Soccer Development Academy club to further complete its player development pathway.
“The addition of Santa Cruz Breakers FC to the PDL’s Southwest Division is another big step forward for one of our deepest divisions,” said PDL Co-Director Mike Panter. “The Breakers Academy is one of the premier youth organizations in the country, and the creation of a PDL team atop such a productive system only expands the clubs ability to continue producing high-level players and future professionals.”
“As an inaugural member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA), Santa Cruz Breakers Academy has spent the last 10 years focusing on developing players in our club in the DA system,” said Santa Cruz Breakers Academy Director of Coaching Paolo Carbone. “Today, we feel that the time is right to add another layer of development in our pyramid by expanding with a PDL team. Our goals are to have a presence at the U23 level and to help the most committed players in our area pursue their dream of playing at the professional level. With a PDL team, we will bridge the gap between the youth level and the professional level to provide a pathway beyond what currently exists.”
While serving the diverse California Central Coast community, the Breakers Academy has a track record of developing professional-level talent. Included among Breakers Academy alumni are Sunderland and U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Lynden Gooch, whose father, Paul, coaches with the Breakers Academy, and 2018 MLS SuperDraft selection and PDL alum Jordan Jones of Los Angeles FC.
“Thanks to the PDL, we expect to increase the numbers of players attending the MLS Combine and going to the professional ranks,” said Carbone. “This year, we had two Santa Cruz Breakers Academy alumni attend the MLS Player Combine, Jordan Jones and Giovanni Godoy. With the addition of our PDL team, we can increase these opportunities for our players to move on to USL and MLS clubs. We expect to have a strong collaborative relationship with all of the professional soccer clubs in our region to help promote the game of soccer while continuing our mission and commitment to player development.”
"Our new Breakers FC PDL team will provide a higher level of soccer to Santa Cruz and the entire Central Coast, where we have deep soccer traditions," said Breakers Academy President Larry Biggam. "It will be fun, fast and entertaining."
Aiding the development of talented players at the Breakers Academy is the presence of a highly-qualified and experienced coaching staff. The majority of coaches involved in the Breakers Academy hold USSF ‘A’ licenses, while others are completing their ‘A’ or ‘B’ licenses. Notable coaches include three former MLS players in San Jose Earthquakes legend Ramiro Corrales, MLS Cup-winner Zak Ibsen and Tim Martin, who competed in the inaugural MLS match with the San Jose Clash in 1996.
“Working with a group as productive and well-established as the Santa Cruz Breakers has been an incredible experience,” said Joel Nash, the USL’s Director of Business Development. “The development of the American player has always been the primary objective of the PDL, and a club with a proven history like the Breakers only enables more talented players to reach their professional potential in the PDL.”
Santa Cruz Breakers FC becomes the 10th 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, SF Glens SC, Kaw Valley FC and Colorado Pride Switchbacks U23 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.
More than 70 percent of all MLS SuperDraft selections since 2010 have PDL experience, including a total of 66 alums chosen in 2018. 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.