PDL Teams Flock to New England

New England soccer fans who can’t get enough of the sport will have plenty of opportunities to watch live soccer this summer, thanks in part to the arrival if three new USL Premier Development League  (PDL) teams in the region. Boston Victory Soccer Club, Connecticut FC Azul and Worcester Hydra FC have all been announced over the past month as expansion clubs in the PDL.

Boston Victory Soccer Club, Connecticut FC Azul and Worcester Hydra FC have all been announced over the past month as expansion clubs in the PDL.

While the New England Revolution is the lone top-tier professional men’s soccer club in the region, the area is expected to have seven teams competing in the PDL next season, as well as two in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), which are both generally considered in the fourth tier of the men’s United States soccer pyramid.

Perhaps making the most noise has been Boston Victory SC. The team, which was officially announced as an expansion side by the PDL on Tuesday, December 5th, has run an aggressive social media marketing campaign, already attracting over 550 fans on Facebook. The club will play their games in Quincy, Mass. and also plans to start a youth academy. The team has expressed ambitions to eventually move to the USL Professional Division (USL Pro), the third tier of American professional soccer.

Also expressing a goal to eventually move the pro-ranks are newcomers Worcester Hydra FC, who were officially announced as a PDL expansion team on Tuesday, November 29th. The club will play this season at Foley Stadium in Worcester, Mass., but club president Phong Le hopes to eventually build his own stadium and seek entry into MLS.

The third expansion team, Connecticut FC Azul (CFC Azul), has yet to announce a venue for their home games next season, but is based in Hamden, Connecticut. The team officially gained entry to the PDL on Monday, December 12th. Unlike the other two clubs, CFC Azul already has a youth team with 70-plus teams in place.

The three teams will join New England’s four already established PDL clubs: MPS Portland Phoenix (established in 2009, home games at Memorial Stadium at Deering High School in Portland, Maine), Sea Coast United Phantoms (established in 1996, home games at Portsmouth High School and Exeter High School), Vermont Voltage (established in 1997, home games at Collins-Perley Sports Complex in St. Albans, Vt.) and Western Mass Pioneers (established in 1998, home games at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass.).

Not to be overlooked are the two New England teams in the “other” fourth tier league, the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). Mass United FC play their home matches at Manning Field in Lynn, Mass., and PDL franchise Seacoast United Phantoms play in the NPSL as well. Both teams began play in the NPSL in 2011.

The MPS Portland Phoenix are the only New England team currently qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open Cup.

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue