PDL League Update: 3 New Franchises Join the Family

It may be the offseason, but preparations never stop for the PDL executives, teams, and players. As the players and coaches are off at their respective colleges making a name for themselves and striving for a title, the league is already getting to work on making the 2017 PDL season the best one to date. In a sport where success is #1, everybody wants a piece of the action. This time last year, the Premier Development League was welcoming Peachtree City MOBA, Tormenta FC, Tri-Cities FC, San Diego Zest, FC Golden State, SF City FC, The Villages SC, and South Florida Surf into the ranks. Well, it's expansion time once again, and three new teams have been announced as the 2017 expansion to the already massive 67-team league, pushing that number up to 70.

Lakeland Tropics

On September 19, the first expansion team was announced to be the Lakeland Tropics, headed by CEO Andrew Haines and the Central Florida Sports Ventures. The Tropics, the eighth Florida-based team in the PDL, are expected to become a part of the Southeast Division in the Southern
Conference. Todd Eason, the director of the PDL, had this to say on the expansion: "The Lakeland Tropics will bolster an already strong conference in the South and attract top college-aged players and local talent. The addition of this franchise gives the Lakeland community a high-caliber organization to showcase potential professionals, and I am confident that newly-appointed COO Chris Economides and the Tropics will seamlessly form some strong rivalries and produce the level of play that has defined the PDL.” Just east of Tampa, the franchise looks to have an impact in the community, bringing America's fastest-growing sport to the Lakeland area.

Nashville SC U-23

The following day, the PDL announced that USL club Nashville SC was awarded an expansion
franchise in the amateur league. Nashville SC, who joined the USL in July 2016 and were previously known as Nashville FC, was one of MOBA's first ever opponents prior to the 2016 PDL season. Director Eason had this to say: "We are excited to have another franchise owned and operated by a USL team. The PDL has provided a proven pathway to the pros for more than two decades, and the addition of Nashville SC U23 will continue to help spur the development of young, college-aged players in Tennessee and the region as a whole." Nashville SC U-23 is expected to join MOBA in the South Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference, an already notoriously competitive division, currently championed by the Charlotte Eagles.

Wilmington Hammerheads FC

On September 29, it was announced that Wilmington, North Carolina was joining the PDL ranks as Wilmington Hammerheads FC. Owned by George Altirs, the day-to-day operations of the franchise
will be looked over by the Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC Board of Directors. The Hammerheads, previously a member of the USL, will join the Charlotte Eagles and Carolina Dynamo as the third North Carolina-based team in the league, and are also expected to join the South Atlantic Division. Todd Eason had this to say: "The Hammerheads have built a strong following throughout their history in the USL. For the better part of two decades, the Wilmington community has enjoyed a top-caliber soccer franchise, and without question, the future PDL players for the Hammerheads will experience a professional-level culture. We’re thrilled to see the team provide that platform for development for high-level, college-aged players starting in 2017." A very admired part of the Wilmington community, the Hammerheads look to carry their past success into the PDL.


Images retrieved from respective team websites.
Quotes retrieved from USLPDL.com


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