Lakeland, FL – The Premier Development League (PDL) is expanding to Lakeland, Florida! Central Florida Sports Ventures, which owns and operates Florida Tropics SC, has received the expansion rights for a PDL team. The team will be known as The Lakeland Tropics.
“We are very excited to receive expansion rights for a PDL team here in Polk County,” said Tropics COO Chris Economides. “This gives us another avenue to engage and provide affordable entertainment to the community. We hope to rally the community behind the Tropics and provide a high level of professionalism both on and off the field.”
“We have the people in place to do so, and we can’t wait to see what this organization can become and do for this community. Soccer is thriving and its time Polk County gets a team that can compete on a national scale and attract some of the best athletes and future professionals.”
The PDL is the highest level of men’s amateur soccer competition in North America. The PDL is sponsored by United Soccer League (USL), the professional league that serves as a direct feeder to Major League Soccer (MLS).
The PDL is a proven path to professional soccer in North America. The league served as an important stepping-stone for many top athletes now playing throughout the world. More than 350 PDL alumni have taken part in the 2016 USL regular season, while more than 200 PDL alums, including Keegan Rosenberry and Brandon Vincent, have competed in the 2016 MLS regular season.
While PDL players are not paid, the league is still recognized as a competitive level of outdoor soccer and an opportunity to see the future stars of professional soccer in North America. The majority of the player pool is drawn from elite NCAA and NAIA college soccer players. PDL players can also include standout high school and junior club players, as well as former professionals.
Many MLS and USL teams have a U23 squad playing in the PDL. This again proves that the PDL is a direct path to professional soccer, and an important opportunity for teams to develop their young stars before taking the next step to the professional level.
So, what does this mean for the Polk County community?
To start, high-level soccer can now be viewed year-round in Lakeland. It also means that Lakeland now has a team that can compete on a national scale for outdoor soccer, as the PDL has an opportunity for teams to enter the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
“Having a PDL team is huge for our own player development,” Tropics and CFSV CEO Haines said. “It allows us to keep players here year-round and stay involved in the community, inspiring future athletes to one day play professionally for their hometown team. Our goal is to always be competitive right from the start, and we will do everything in our power to bring home a trophy to this community.”
The Lakeland Tropics will compete in the Southern Conference, which includes various other teams throughout the state of Florida. This will help to create interstate rivalries amongst Polk County’s newest team.
The Lakeland Tropics season will begin in May, and season ticket will be on sale in the upcoming weeks. For more information or to join the waitlist for tickets, call 863-333-5353.