In a first-of-its-kind relationship, the Utah Youth Soccer Association has added a PDL club, Ogden City SC, atop its state-wide structure to provide a continued developmental home for its players.
Joining the Mountain Division with storied clubs like FC Tucson and the Albuquerque Sol FC, Ogden City SC will be put to the test immediately in their inaugural PDL season, but the team believes itself to be up for the challenge. While laying the foundation for a club shooting for a high level of success, the club made strides at the 2017 Winter Summit, working with other PDL teams to develop a plan for becoming the definitive club of the Ogden community.
While preparing the club to be embraced by the Ogden community, the UYSA took time to describe their interest in founding a PDL club in Utah, what they hope to provide to local talent and why they believe they're ripe for success.
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.
PDL: What factors led you to seek PDL membership in 2018?
UYSA: Well, we were obviously aware of BYU’s men’s team pulling out of the PDL and saw that there was an opportunity to replace that value in our area. They had established a great tradition for the PDL in state and had been a member of the league since the early 2000s. That is when we started discussions about keeping the PDL in Utah. We have great players in the state in our youth organization up through the college ranks and thought we could provide additional opportunities for development of our youth players and alumni. Soccer is very popular in the state with a strong youth program, and MLS, the USL, the NWSL and the PDL represented here.
PDL: You champion a new model among PDL clubs, with a first team atop a state association in the Utah Youth Soccer Association. How do you feel that model helps both your team and the development of players in Utah?
UYSA: We have an already-existing relationship and identification process with current and former players in the state so getting top-level talent will be natural. Our technical staff also has great relationships with the college programs in the state. Our in-house staff gives us a great foundation to operate the team and provide great customer service and game-day experiences. In short, we have a lot of existing resources that will make it easy for us and our team to be successful.
PDL: How was your first experience at the PDL Winter Summit?
UYSA: We had a great time at the Winter Summit. It was good to meet the coaches and administrators from the other clubs and the administrators of the PDL and get an idea of how the league operates. We had time to bounce ideas off of established clubs and to make connections that will be valuable moving forward. We learned a lot and look forward to being back next year.
PDL: What are you most looking forward to in your inaugural PDL season?
UYSA: We are excited to get on the field and compete - we have high hopes of putting a competitive product out on the field the first year. But honestly, I think we’re most excited to see the support of the Ogden community and to start building our fan base. We have some great game-day promotions planned for this season and are excited to build our home-field advantage and relationship with our fans in the local community and state wide.
PDL: You’re joining the Mountain Division alongside a fellow new member club in Colorado Pride Switchbacks U23 and will compete against one of the PDL’s most successful clubs in FC Tucson, who have won four-straight division titles. What does facing off against that level of competition mean to you?
UYSA: It validates the competitiveness of our conference and forces us to be on our game right out of the gate. We know we’re in strong division that will be stable moving forward and it gives us confidence in owning this team well into the future. We’re excited to compete against our division rivals and know that we’ll have great opportunity to develop our players and team.
PDL: What are some goals you’d like to achieve as a club in 2018?
UYSA: Albuquerque took home three golden scarves at the 2017 Winter Summit this year and we definitely noticed. Our first goal is to grab at least one gold scarf in 2018! Honestly though, we expect to put a competitive team out on the field and we have goals for attendance and support. We think we have a great opportunity to provide a high-level soccer experience in a metro area that could really embrace us. We hope to make Ogden City SC a household name and to see Ogden City SC scarfs and tee shirts throughout the city.