TAMPA, Fla. – Adding to the Premier Development League’s Mountain Division presence and its professional partnerships, Colorado Pride Switchbacks U23 will join the league for the upcoming 2018 season as the PDL partner of the USL’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
“The addition of Colorado Pride Switchbacks U23 not only makes our Western Conference and Mountain Division stronger, but continues to grow the PDL’s role as the top pre-professional league in North America,” said PDL Co-Director Chris Madden. “Pride Soccer Club’s long-standing history of developing local youth players, combined with the resources of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, provides an incredible development opportunity for players to continue their development in the PDL.”
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to add a PDL team to our existing youth club,” said Head Coach Diego Zaltron. “As the largest soccer organization in Colorado Springs with over 5,000 players and a partnership with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, the only USL team in the state, it is important for us to be able to offer our players a complete pathway to the pros. Our players now have a chance to go from recreational soccer all the way to professional soccer right here in Colorado Springs.”
Founded in 1994, Pride Soccer Club launched with 45 teams and 430 players and has since grown to encompass approximately 4,500 players across over 300 teams.
“I am very honored that Pride Soccer Club and the Switchbacks FC organization have trusted me to direct this new venture,” Zaltron continued. “Our goal is to develop players and help them get to the next level. Bridging the gap for the Pride U18 and U19 players and the Switchbacks FC professional players will be one of our main objectives. Hopefully, within the next few years, we will see a player come all the way through the Pride youth ranks up to the USL club.”
Established through the intense effort of its four original founders - dedicated parents who saw the need for a high-quality organization to coordinate and supervise an ever-increasing number of youth players in Southern Colorado - Pride Soccer Club offers recreational, intermediate, junior academy and competitive programs. Beginning in 2016-17, Pride Soccer Club became a member of the U.S. Development Academy, offering teams at the U12, U13 and U14 Boys levels.
“From day one, this endeavor has been about the community within Colorado Springs,” said Joel Nash, the USL’s Director of Business Development. “American soccer needs more examples of selfless leaders using soccer for the greater good. I want to personally thank the relentless effort from Pride’s leadership, Diego and Candy, who in conjunction with Switchbacks FC leadership, have realized the overall goal of establishing a clear pathway from a youth player to a professional one within Colorado Springs. This team will grow aspiring youth soccer players as well as strengthen the growing Switchbacks FC fanbase.”
Colorado Pride Switchbacks becomes the ninth expansion club announced to begin play in 2018, joining a to-be-named Birmingham franchise, the AHFC Royals, Lansing United, Corpus Christi FC, Lionsbridge FC, Ogden City SC, SF Glens SC and Kaw Valley FC as previously announced teams
A part of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II USL, the newly-announced USL Division III and Super Y League, the PDL has served as the proven stepping-stone for aspiring professionals.
More than 70 percent of all MLS SuperDraft selections since 2010 have PDL experience, including a total of 66 alums chosen in 2018. Among the many players to have played in the PDL before making their professional debuts include Newcastle United FC defender DeAndre Yedlin, 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia, 2017 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara and U.S. Men’s National Team members such as Darlington Nagbe, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream.