TAMPA, Fla. – One of the Premier Development League’s most successful clubs will spearhead the USL Division III’s West Coast conference, as FC Tucson announced today it would move to the professional level, joining fellow PDL club South Georgia Tormenta FC.
“Today marks a big day for both USL Division III and the PDL, as FC Tucson announced its much-deserved move to the professional level,” said PDL Co-Director Chris Madden. “Tucson has consistently proven itself as a high-level organization, from its successful on-field performance to its affiliation with the USL’s Phoenix Rising FC. We’re proud to see Tucson join Tormenta FC as PDL clubs making the leap to the pro game.”
“Today’s announcement marks another success of the PDL’s vaunted pathway to professionalism for players, coaches and clubs across North America,” said PDL Co-Director Mike Panter. “The PDL will continue to grow American soccer in the pre-professional game, with the primary goal of producing future professionals at the organizational and individual level. That work continues in 2018, and we look forward to continuing to host FC Tucson and Tormenta FC in the PDL this season.”
Since joining the PDL in 2012, FC Tucson has proven to be a dominant force in club soccer in Arizona. In addition to its stellar 53-15-18 record in PDL play, FC Tucson has won four consecutive division titles, three in the Mountain Division (2014, 2015, 2017) and one in the Southwest Division (2016), and has advanced to the PDL Western Conference Finals three times (2014, 2015, 2016).
“FC Tucson’s move to USL Division III demonstrates the visionary ownership that exists within the USL system, and I applaud the club’s leadership for recognizing the opportunity to continue growing their clubs and the communities in which they operate,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “We are thrilled to have FC Tucson as a founding member of USL Division III alongside South Georgia Tormenta FC, and expect the club to continue its tremendous record of success from the Premier Development League.”
In addition to joining Tormenta FC as a PDL club moving to the professional ranks, FC Tucson’s announcement also marks the first formal affiliation between USL and USL Division III clubs.
“We’re on the front lines of the growth of professional soccer in the U.S., and we see tremendous potential for professional soccer in Tucson,” said Dr. Mark Leber, who is a Tucson native and part of the Rising FC ownership group. “The city has proven time and again, through its successful MLS Preseason tournament and support of FC Tucson in the PDL, that there is an appetite for professional soccer in the market. At Phoenix Rising FC, we intend to continue raising the bar for the quality of soccer in the state, and launching a professional team in Tucson will help us establish a true player development pipeline.”
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.