FC Boulder's new PDL team
For more information on becoming a sponsor or hosting a player for the summer, contact FC Boulder general manager Nikki Marshall via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
BOULDER — Let's face it, when it comes to things to do in Boulder over the summer, the list is lengthy.
But something was missing.
In a soccer starved community that has gone overboard in its support of the local boys and girls high school teams over the years, Boulderites will have something new to root on starting this spring.
FC Boulder soccer club executive director Adam Hayes and general manager Nikki Marshall have announced that the club has been awarded a men's PDL (Premier Development League) team that will start play in May.
"It's not a mom and pop start-up organization that's kicking off; it's a legitimate program and we are hoping that it becomes a really big deal for the area," said Hayes.
The PDL is the most well-established and widely considered the best amateur league in the country with 70 percent of players drafted into the MLS (Major League Soccer) over the past 10 years having played in the PDL. It is owned and operated by USL (United Soccer League) and Hayes said it provides players a true path to becoming a professional. It is a U23 league but there are allowances for over-age players to play in limited numbers. Former professional players and players in professional academy systems are also eligible for participation when they are able to regain amateur status.
PDL approached FC Boulder in late October and invited the club to be a part of the PDL beginning in the 2017 season. There are 70 franchises nationwide and new for May 2017, two of those will be in Colorado: FC Boulder and Colorado Rapids U23s.
"For a youth-based organization like ours to have been sought out by PDL is a really great honor and a testament to our club-wide philosophies (and successes) of player development," Hayes said.
There is a lot of work to be done in the coming months to get ready for their 14 game season — they will be in the Western Conference and a new Mountain Division with teams from Utah, Arizona and New Mexico as well as the new Colorado Rapids U23 team that has been added this season — that will likely include seven home games in Boulder — hopefully at the University of Colorado's Prentup Field.
Hayes, Marshall and head coach Luis Swisher will start with building a roster that has the potential to be chalked full of local stand-outs.
"Our hope is that it will be pretty easy to attract players to come here," said Marshall, who was a 100-goal scorer at Skyline High School before starring for four years for the Buffs. "Who wouldn't want to spend their summer in Boulder, Colorado?
"We have a great track record of developing players, so that will be attractive as well. It should be easy to recruit players here."
News will spread quickly in the soccer community and some of the local high school coaches are already on board with the idea.
"I think we continue to become more literate as a soccer community, so this sort of thing makes sense," Broomfield coach Jim Davidson said. "It sounds like an exciting opportunity."
There are a lot of details still to be ironed out, and since FC Boulder is a nonprofit program, they are going to need sponsorship help from the community to help make this happen both this season and for the long-term.
"It means a lot to our club that the PDL came to us and asked us to be a part of this," Marshall said. "We are serving the youth of Boulder County in a way that not a lot of other foundations do and we are proud of our product and excited to create an elite team that cane be really cool."