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The USL Premier Development League (PDL) is the amateur league of the United Soccer Leagues in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker, forming part of the American Soccer Pyramid. It is currently the top level men's amateur competition in the United States, and has 68 teams competing in four conferences, split into eight regional divisions; unofficially, it is considered to be the fourth tier of competition, behind Major League Soccer, the USL First Division and the USL Second Division, and roughly equal with the National Premier Soccer League and the Pacific Coast Soccer League.

While not strictly a "professional" league in the sense that the majority of players do not receive payment, the PDL prides itself on its professionalism in terms of its organization and the way the league is run, and its dedication to developing young soccer players, preparing them for future careers in professional leagues in the United States and elsewhere. As PDL seasons take place during the summer months, the player pool is drawn mainly from elite NCAA college soccer players seeking to continue playing high level soccer during their summer break, which they can do while still maintaining their college eligibility.

However, in recent years, teams such as Laredo Heat, New Orleans Jesters, Vancouver Whitecaps Residency, Kitsap Pumas and the Hollywood United Hitmen have been embracing at least partial professionalism through a new program called PDL-Pro, whereby teams can choose to employ non-NCAA players who are paid for their performances, but who still meet the age eligibility criteria. This does not contravene NCAA rules, which state that college players cannot play alongside professionals, but may play against them.

In addition, PDL squads often also include standout high school and junior club players, as well as former professionals seeking to continue competing at a high level, often having been forced to retire from top flight competition due to age or injury. PDL rules dictate that a maximum of eight players on each team's 26-man roster can be over 23 years old, while at least three players on each team's roster must be 18 or younger.

Increasingly, the PDL is seen as a 'shop window' for professional clubs looking to discover and identify aspiring professional players who may enter the MLS SuperDraft in future years. Many of the players currently playing in Major League Soccer and elsewhere began their careers in the PDL.


In 1995 the USISL split into two leagues, one professional and one amateur. The United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues Premier Development Soccer League, more commonly known simply as the Premier League, was formed as an amateur league apart from the professional USISL Pro League teams. Its main purpose was to improve soccer capabilities to many urban areas throughout the USAmarker and Canadamarker and offer current college soccer players experience without losing their college eligibility.

In 1997 the umbrella USISL changed its name to the United Soccer Leagues and the Premier League officially became known as the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League or, more commonly, the PDL.

Today, some of the PDL teams serve as farm teams to United Soccer Leagues and Major League Soccer clubs, notably Chicago Fire Premier, Portland Timbers U23's, and Vancouver Whitecaps Residency and there are increasing reports that more professional teams will begin fielding U23 teams in the PDL in years to come.

2009 Teams

USA States with PDL teams are highlighted in red, Canadian Provinces with PDL teams are in dark red, 2010 expansion teams included

Central Conference

Great Lakes Division

Heartland Division

Eastern Conference

Mid Atlantic Division

Northeast Division

Southern Conference

Mid South Division

Southeast Division

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Southwest Division

Announced 2010 expansion teams


Teams with best regular season record

Complete team list

Notable professional players with PDL experience

Average Attendance

Regular season

  • 2007: 516
  • 2006: 561
  • 2005: 503
  • 2004: 455
  • 2003: 492
  • 2002: 463
  • 2001: 410
  • 2000: 423
  • 1999: 385
  • 1998: 317
  • 1997: 304
  • 1996: 256
  • 1995: 290


  • 2007:
  • 2006: 895
  • 2005: 912
  • 2004: 877
  • 2003: 703
  • 2002: 560
  • 2001: 530
  • 2000: 481
  • 1999: 407
  • 1998: 416
  • 1997: 397
  • 1996: 218
  • 1995: 182

External links


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