definition of Wikipedia
|Countries|| United States
|Divisions||9 in 4 Conferences|
|Number of teams||73|
|Levels on pyramid||4 (US), 4 (CA)|
|Domestic cup(s)||Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup|
|Current champions||Kitsap Pumas
|Most championships||Cape Cod Crusaders
Central Coast Roadrunners
(2 titles each)
|TV partners||Fox Soccer Channel|
|Website||Official site in English|
The USL Premier Development League (commonly known as the PDL) is the amateur league of the United Soccer Leagues in the United States, Canada, and Bermuda, forming part of the American Soccer Pyramid. It is currently the top-level men's amateur soccer competition in the United States, and has 73 teams competing in four conferences, split into nine regional divisions; unofficially, it is considered to be the fourth tier of competition, behind Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League and the USL Professional Division, and roughly equal with the National Premier Soccer League.
While not strictly a "professional" league in the sense that the majority of players do not receive payment, the PDL prides itself on its professionalism in terms of its organization and the way the league is run, and its dedication to developing young soccer players, preparing them for future careers in professional leagues in the United States and elsewhere. As PDL seasons take place during the summer months, the player pool is drawn mainly from elite NCAA college soccer players seeking to continue playing high-level soccer during their summer break, which they can do while still maintaining their college eligibility.
However, in recent years, teams such as Laredo Heat, New Orleans Jesters, Vancouver Whitecaps Residency, Kitsap Pumas and the Hollywood United Hitmen have been embracing at least partial professionalism through a new program called PDL-Pro, whereby teams can choose to employ players who are paid for their performances, but who still meet the age eligibility criteria. This does not contravene NCAA rules, which state that college players cannot play alongside professionals, but may play against them. What this also means, however, is that PDL-Pro teams cannot have any active NCAA players on their rosters, but may employ NAIA and community college players, ex-NCAA players who have already graduated, or other local players who do not play college soccer at all.
In addition, PDL squads often also include standout high school and junior club players, as well as former professionals seeking to continue competing at a high level, often having been forced to retire from top flight competition due to age or injury. PDL rules dictate that a maximum of eight players on each team's 26-man roster can be over 23 years old, while at least three players on each team's roster must be 18 or younger.
Increasingly, the PDL is seen as a 'shop window' for professional clubs looking to discover and identify aspiring professional players who may enter the MLS SuperDraft in future years. Many of the players currently playing in Major League Soccer and elsewhere began their careers in the PDL.
In 1995 the United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL) changed its name to the United States International Soccer League, and split into two leagues, one professional (the 'Professional League', which ultimately became the USL Second Division) and one amateur (the 'Premier League'). The purpose for the split was to expand into and improve the soccer capabilities of many urban areas throughout the United States and Canada, while offering current college soccer players the opportunity to continue playing during the summer months without losing their college eligibility. The inaugural season of the new USISL Premier League featured 27 teams, and the Richmond Kickers won the first title, beating the Cocoa Expos 3-1 in the championship game. Gabe Jones of the Austin Lone Stars was the league's top scorer and MVP.
The United States International Soccer League changed its name again in 1996, to the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues, and before the season, there was substantial movement of teams between the Pro League, the Premier League and the newly created Select League (which would later merge with the A-League, and eventually become the USL First Division). The Premier League grew to 34 teams in its sophomore year, with the Central Coast Roadrunners from San Luis Obispo, California beating the San Francisco Bay Seals in the championship game to take the title. Pasi Kinturi of the Nashville Metros was the league's top scorer and MVP.
The Premier League renamed itself the Premier Development Soccer League (PDSL) in 1997, and the Central Coast Roadrunners repeated as national champions, the first team to do so, beating the Cocoa Expos in the PDSL championship game. Lester Felicia of the Jackson Chargers was the league's MVP, while Rodrigo Costa of the Detroit Dynamite was the leading scorer and the league's Rookie of the Year, talling 21 goals and 2 assists for 44 points. In 1998 the PDSL took to the field with 33 teams, including four associate members from the Pacific Coast Soccer League who played shortened schedules after their PCSL season was over. In the championship game the San Gabriel Valley Highlanders upset regular season champions Jackson Chargers 3-2, taking the trophy to California for the third straight year. Rodrigo Costa of the Detroit Dynamite was the league MVP, Boniventure Manati of the Jackson Chargers was the league's top scorer, and a young striker by the name of Brian Ching from the Spokane Shadow was named Rookie of the Year.
In 1999 the umbrella USISL changed its name to the United Soccer Leagues, and the Premier Development Soccer League dropped the 'soccer' part of its name and became known as the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League, or PDL. The league took in several teams from the D3Pro league, expanding to 42 teams in six divisions. Expansion franchise Chicago Sockers ultuimately won the league, beating Spokane Shadow 3-1 for the title in a tight championship game. Fabio Eidenwein of the Sioux City Breeze was named League MVP and was the top scorer, with 20 goals.
The PDL expanded by a further eight franchises in 2000, and the Chicago Sockers won their second straight title, beating the Mid-Michigan Bucks in a close 1-0 Championship game. The single goal was scored by Rodrigo Costa who, having received a pass from teammate Hamid Mehreioskouei, chipped Bucks goalkeeper Eric Pogue from 18 yards through a crowded penaltty area. Fernando Salazar of the Los Angeles-based San Fernando Valley Heroes was the league's MVP, while his teammate Arshak Abyanli took the honors as top goalscorer.
The league grew from 41 to 44 teams in 2001 through the usual mix of relegation from D3Pro, teams folding and new franchises being added. In the semifinals, the Westchester Flames defeated Sioux Falls Spitfire 5-1 and Calgary Storm defeated Des Moines Menace 2-1; in the final, Westchester defeated Calgary 3-1 to take their first league title. Des Moines and Chicago Fire Reserves dominated the 2002 regular season, but both teams stuttered in the playoffs; the PDL final saw the Cape Cod Crusaders defeating the Boulder Rapids Reserve 2-1 to bring the title to the Northeast for the second year in a row. 2002 also saw the debut of the soon-to-be PDL legend, Tomas Boltnar of Des Moines Menace, who secured an unprecedented triple-crown of PDL MVP, Top Scorer and Rookie of the Year.
The mid-2000s was a period of steady growth and consolidation for the PDL. A TV agreement with Fox Soccer Channel saw the PDL Championship game being broadcast live on national television in North America for the first time, and professional teams began investing in the league by adding U-23 development sides as an addition to their senior rosters. Cape Cod repeated as PDL champs in 2003, beating the Chicago Fire Reserves in the final (and despite the presence of Jürgen Klinsmann playing for Orange County Blue Star), while 2004 saw the title head to Florida for the first time as the Central Florida Kraze overcame perennial bridesmaids Boulder Rapids Reserve.
Des Moines Menace took the PDL Championship trophy back to Iowa in 2005 after beating the El Paso Patriots 6-5 on penalty kicks, following a 0-0 draw in the PDL Championship game. 2006 saw the beginning of two seasons of dominance for two teams: the Michigan Bucks and the Laredo Heat. Both teams made the PDL Final in 2006 and 2007, with the Bucks emerging victorious in '06 with a 2-1 win thanks to goals by Kenny Uzoigwe and Ty Shipalane, only for Laredo to get their revenge the following year with an epic penalty kicks win after a 0-0 tie in regulation time.
Laredo became the first team to make three consecutive PDL championship games in 2008, but fell at the final hurdle to Thunder Bay Chill, who became the first ever Canadian side to win the PDL following their 4-1 penalty shootout victory. The PDL had grown to 68 teams by 2009, and to reflect their growing reputation, introduced a new scheme called PDL-Pro, whereby certain teams would be allowed to act as professional clubs, paying players, while still adhering to NCAA collegiate eligibility rules, and the USL's own age restriction policy. Ventura County Fusion returned the PDL title to Southern California for the first time in over a decade with a stoppage-time victory over Chicago Fire Premier, and in doing so became the lowest-seeded team to claim the national title.
The 2010s began with a record, as the Portland Timbers U23's ended the season as national champions, beating Thunder Bay Chill 4-1 in the 2010 PDL Championship game. The Timbers also had the best regular season record, winning all their 16 games, scoring 53 goals and conceding just six along the way. In doing so the Timbers became the first team to post a perfect PDL regular season record since the Jackson Chargers in 1998, the first regular season champion to win the playoffs since the Central Coast Roadrunners in 1996, and the first team in PDL history to go through an entire PDL regular season and playoff campaign without posting a loss or a tie. Portland Timbers U23's striker Brent Richards was named League MVP and Rookie of the Year for his stellar campaign with the national champions. Players from Canadian side Thunder Bay Chill led the majority of the statistical categories, with striker Brandon Swartzendruber leading the league with 15 goals, while his teammate Gustavo Oliveira led the league with 13 assists. Portland Timbers U23's goalkeeper Jacob Gleeson enjoyed the best goalkeeping statistics, allowing just five goals in 15 games and earning with a 0.360 GAA average.
Western Conference teams dominated the league in 2011 for the third year in a row, with the Kitsap Pumas ending the season as national champions, beating Laredo Heat 1-0 in the 2011 PDL Championship game. Kitsap, who lost just one game and conceded just ten goals all season, were the second team from the Northwest Division to win the national title in a row, while Laredo were contesting their fourth championship game in six years. Interestingly, Kitsap also were the first PDL-Pro team to win the championship, a milestone for the league. Kitsap's Western Conference rivals Fresno Fuego had the best regular-season record, posting an unbeaten 13-0-3 record. Fresno midfielder Milton Blanco was named League MVP, after leading the league in points (38) and assists (14) and helping his team to the Southwest Division title. Two Michigan Bucks players - Stewart Givens and Mitch Hildebrandt - were given end-of-season awards as Defender of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year respectively, while their coach Gary Parsons was named Coach of the Year. Jake Keegan of the Westchester Flames was named Rookie of the Year after tallying 16 goals in 16 games to take the league goal-scoring crown. Keegan accounted for 64 percent of Westchester's goals in 2011 and also finished third in the league in points with 34.
|Great Lakes Division|
|Chicago Fire Premier||USA||Chicago, Illinois||Evanston Township High School||2001||Mark Spooner|
|Chicago Inferno||USA||Wheaton, Illinois||Joe Bean Stadium||2011||Branko Savic|
|Cincinnati Kings||USA||Cincinnati, Ohio||Town & Country Sports Complex||2005||Roby Stahl|
|Forest City London||CAN||London, Ontario||German Club||2008||Martin Painter|
|Hamilton Rage||CAN||Hamilton, Ontario||Brian Timmis Stadium||2010||Brett Mosen|
|Michigan Bucks||USA||Pontiac, Michigan||Ultimate Soccer Arenas||1995||Gary Parsons|
|River City Rovers||USA||Louisville, Kentucky||Christian Academy of Louisville||2010||Muhamed Fazlagic|
|Toronto Lynx||CAN||Toronto, Ontario||Centennial Park Stadium||1997||Duncan Wilde|
|Des Moines Menace||USA||Des Moines, Iowa||Valley Stadium||1994||Laurie Calloway|
|Kansas City Brass||USA||Kansas City, Kansas||Overland Park Soccer Complex||1997||Lincoln Roblee|
|Real Colorado Foxes||USA||Highlands Ranch, Colorado||Shea Stadium||2008||Leigh Davies|
|Springfield Demize||USA||Springfield, Missouri||Cooper Sports Complex||1997||Julio Reyes|
|St. Louis Lions||USA||St. Louis, Missouri||Tony Glavin Soccer Complex||2006||Tony Glavin|
|Thunder Bay Chill||CAN||Thunder Bay, Ontario||Fort William Stadium||2000||Tony Colistro|
|WSA Winnipeg||CAN||Winnipeg, Manitoba||John Scouras Field||2010||Eduardo Badescu|
|Mid Atlantic Division|
|Baltimore Bohemians||USA||Bel Air, Maryland||Cedar Lane Park||2011||Steve Nichols|
|Bermuda Hogges||BMU||Pembroke, Bermuda||BAA Stadium||2006||Maurice Lowe|
|Brooklyn Knights||USA||Maspeth, New York||Metropolitan Oval||1999||Joe Balsamo|
|Central Jersey Spartans||USA||Lawrenceville, New Jersey||Falcon Field||2009||Sam Nellins|
|Jersey Express S.C.||USA||Newark, New Jersey||Lubetkin Field||2007||George Vichniakov|
|Long Island Rough Riders||USA||South Huntington, New York||Mitchel Athletic Complex||1994||Paul Roderick|
|New Jersey Rangers||USA||Denville, New Jersey||Morris Catholic High School||2007||Carlos Rasolio|
|Ocean City Nor'easters||USA||Ocean City, New Jersey||Carey Stadium||1996||Neil Holloway|
|Reading United A.C.||USA||Reading, Pennsylvania||Don Thomas Stadium||1996||Brendan Burke|
|Boston Victory S.C.||USA||Boston, Massachusetts||Veterans Memorial Stadium (Quincy)||2011||Sergio Taborda|
|Connecticut FC Azul||USA||Hamden, Connecticut||TBA||2011||David Kelly|
|GPS Portland Phoenix||USA||Portland, Maine||Memorial Stadium||2009||Paul Baber|
|Ottawa Fury||CAN||Ottawa, Ontario||Algonquin College||2005||Stephen O'Kane|
|Seacoast United Phantoms||USA||Portsmouth, New Hampshire||Portsmouth High School||1996||Stefano Franciosa|
|Vermont Voltage||USA||St. Albans, Vermont||Collins-Perley Sports Complex||1997||Bo Simic|
|Western Mass Pioneers||USA||Ludlow, Massachusetts||Lusitano Stadium||1998||Joe Calabrese|
|Worcester Hydra||USA||Worcester, Massachusetts||Foley Stadium||2011||Elvis Comrie|
|South Atlantic Division|
|Carolina Dynamo||USA||Greensboro, North Carolina||Macpherson Stadium||1993||Marc Nicholls|
|Fredericksburg Hotspur||USA||Fredericksburg, Virginia||UMW Battleground Stadium||2010||Carl Gray|
|Nashville Metros||USA||Nashville, Tennessee||Ezell Park||1989||Ricardo Lopez|
|Northern Virginia Royals||USA||Woodbridge, Virginia||Hellwig Memorial Field Stadium||1998||Richie Burke|
|Palmetto FC Bantams||USA||Greenwood, South Carolina||Lander Soccer Complex||2012||Van Taylor|
|Real Maryland F.C.||USA||Rockville, Maryland||Lester Stadium||2007||Silvino Gonzalo|
|Southern West Virginia King's Warriors||USA||Beckley, West Virginia||Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex||2012||TBA|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||USA||Virginia Beach, Virginia||Virginia Beach Sportsplex||2006||Cesar Rizzo|
|West Virginia Chaos||USA||Charleston, West Virginia||Schoenbaum Stadium||2003||Adam Mitchell|
|Mid South Division|
|Austin Aztex||USA||Austin, Texas||House Park||2011||Paul Dalglish|
|Chivas El Paso Patriots||USA||El Paso, Texas||Gary Del Palacios Field||1989||Javier McDonald|
|Laredo Heat||USA||Laredo, Texas||Texas A&M International Soccer Complex||2004||Israel Collazo|
|New Orleans Jesters||USA||New Orleans, Louisiana||Pan American Stadium||2003||Kenny Farrell|
|Texas Dutch Lions||USA||The Woodlands, Texas||Carl Barton Soccer Complex||2011||Robert Maaskant|
|West Texas United Sockers||USA||Midland, Texas||Grande Communications Stadium||2008||Warren Cottle|
|Bradenton Academics||USA||Bradenton, Florida||IMG Soccer Academy||1998||Tom Durkin|
|Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy||USA||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||Central Broward Regional Park||2009||Josef Schulz|
|FC Jax Destroyers||USA||Jacksonville, Florida||D.B. Milne Field||2010||Aidan Davison|
|Mississippi Brilla||USA||Jackson, Mississippi||Harper Davis Stadium||2006||Dave Dixon|
|Ocala Stampede||USA||Ocala, Florida||Big Sun Soccer Complex||2011||Anderson DeSilva|
|Orlando City U-23||USA||Lake Mary, Florida||Showalter Field||1998||Joe Avallone|
|Panama City Beach Pirates||USA||Panama City, Florida||Mike Gavlak Sports Complex||2011||Greg DeVito|
|VSI Tampa Flames||USA||Brandon, Florida||Brandon Sports Complex||2011||Joel Harrison|
|Fraser Valley Mariners||CAN||Abbotsford, British Columbia||Bateman Park||2003||Ian Knight|
|Kitsap Pumas||USA||Bremerton, Washington||Bremerton Memorial Stadium||2008||Peter Fewing|
|North Sound SeaWolves||USA||Everett, Washington||Goddard Memorial Stadium||2010||Alex Silva|
|Portland Timbers U23's||USA||Portland, Oregon||Jeld-Wen Field||2008||Jim Rilatt|
|Seattle Sounders FC U-23||USA||Pierce County, Washington||TBA||2006||Darren Sawatzky|
|Vancouver Whitecaps Residency||CAN||Vancouver, British Columbia||Swangard Stadium||2005||Richard Grootscholten|
|Victoria Highlanders||CAN||Victoria, British Columbia||Royal Athletic Park||2008||Ian Bridge|
|Washington Crossfire||USA||Seattle, Washington||Redmond High School||2007||Seth Spidahl|
|BYU Cougars||USA||Provo, Utah||The Stadium at South Field||1995||Chris Watkins|
|Fresno Fuego||USA||Fresno, California||Chukchansi Park||2003||Scott Alcorn|
|Los Angeles Misioneros||USA||Los Angeles, California||George Washington Carver Middle School||2006||Marlon Iván León|
|Ogden Outlaws||USA||Ogden, Utah||Bonneville High School||2006||Rob Karas|
|Orange County Blue Star||USA||Irvine, California||Eagle Stadium||1997||Jon Spencer|
|Pali Blues||USA||Pacific Palisades, California||Stadium by the Sea||2011||Federico Bianchi|
|Southern California Seahorses||USA||La Mirada, California||Biola University||2001||Todd Elkins|
|FC Tucson||USA||Tucson, Arizona||Kino Sports Complex||2010||Rick Schantz|
|Ventura County Fusion||USA||Ventura, California||Ventura College||2006||Ole Mikkelsen|
Regular season champions
Many senior international players had their first taste of competitive league experience playing in the PDL. This list includes players who, after playing in the PDL, have achieved some kind of significant success as a professional soccer player - playing internationally for their country, playing in one of the world's top leagues (such as the Premier League in England), being a #1 draft pick, or winning a major award such as the MLS Rookie of the Year award or the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is awarded to the best college soccer player of a given year and is American soccer's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
Attendance stats are calculated by averaging each team's self-reported home attendances from the historical match archive at http://www.uslsoccer.com/history/index_E.html, and then averaging this league-wide.
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