Mariners add PDL Team
The Virginia Beach Mariners are very pleased to confirm they have obtained the franchise rights from United Soccer Leagues (USL) for a team in the Premier Development League (PDL) Team for the Hampton Roads area. The Mariners new team will start in the 2006 season.
The PDL is an amateur league that is designed to introduce players 16-23 to perform in a professional atmosphere of the game while retaining their college eligibility.
The Mariners PDL team will compete in the Mid Atlantic Division of the PDL that for the 2005 season comprised the Richmond Kickers Future, Augusta Fireball United, Carolina Dynamo, Raleigh CASL Elite, West Virginia Chaos and the Williamsburg Legacy. There are currently eight divisions comprising 54 Teams.
Of the 144 players named to 2004 NSCAA College All American Teams 49 players had PDL experience. In the 2004 Men's NCAA Division I Final between Indiana University and UC Santa Barbara nine different PDL clubs were represented on the Hoosiers squad, with 18 current and former PDL players suiting up. In the 2005 Major League Soccer SuperDraft in Baltimore 29 players were selected with PDL experience.
"This is an important step for the Mariners organization," advised Mike McCann, Managing Director. "The USL PDL program was granted Olympic Development Program (ODP) status by U.S Soccer in 2001. The stated goal of US Soccer ODP programs is to identify, evaluate and develop a pool of players for the National Team programs to improve the success of all US National Teams at an international level. The Mariners join in this goal with great pride as the development of players benefits the game as a whole"
"As we have stated from the beginning the key to the Mariners future is the youth," said McCann, "and the addition of this team directly connects all the local clubs and college players directly with the professional system, giving far more of our youth the ability to compete at a higher level while maintaining their college eligibility."
The USL allows eight players over 23 on the club's 26-man PDL roster but the core of the team will always be under 23. We look forward to the Mariners working with regional colleges and clubs with their soccer programs by allowing the players to participate in a league simulating a professional atmosphere.
The Marines will be running a competition with our fans over the next month so they can be involved in identifying the best name for our new Mariners PDL team.
"The benefits to the Mariners, our fans, the City of Virginia Beach, local clubs and colleges are obvious," said McCann. "The organization can now be involved with prospects from the beginning of their careers with a view to the long term as well as provide some additional depth to the Mariners organization and supporter base as a whole. It's a win-win situation for everyone and we look forward greatly to 2006 season as evidence to the league the strength we have in this level of play in the region."
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