Pittsburgh -- The Pittsburgh Riverhounds have secured a Premier Development League (PDL) franchise that will begin operations in the 2014 season, it was announced today by Riverhounds CEO Jason Kutney.

“The Riverhounds’ PDL franchise will provide the absolute best opportunity for our area’s most elite players who want to play at the professional level,” said Kutney. “We can offer these players top training sessions to stay fit in the summer, opportunities to perform in front of both USL and MLS scouts, and an unmatched set of resources to do so, all while in premier facilities.”

The PDL has been the destination league for young college players to continue their development toward the professional ranks, with clubs from across North America not only competing for a championship each summer, but also providing the opportunity for top-level competition for the best players in the college ranks. The PDL platform also allows for identification opportunities within high school aged players.  With PDL roster spots available for limited players under the age of 18, the Riverhounds will be able to further prepare young stars for the collegiate and professional levels. 

“The Pittsburgh Riverhounds have been a successful USL PRO franchise for more than a decade and their new PDL team will prove to be an important part of their organization,” says PDL Senior Director Ryan Brooks. “Aspiring professionals from the greater Pittsburgh area will have the ideal environment to develop alongside players already playing at the next level.”

More than 150 former PDL players have been selected in the MLS SuperDraft in the past five seasons, including each of the past two No. 1 picks – Andrew Wenger (Carolina Dynamo) in 2012, and Andrew Farrell (River City Rovers) in 2013.

In addition to the MLS SuperDraft, a number of former PDL alumni have also been signed to Home Grown Player contracts by MLS clubs, with those such as the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes (Ventura County Fusion), New England Revolution’s Scott Caldwell (Michigan Bucks), FC Dallas’ London Woodberry (Baltimore Bohemians) and the Seattle Sounders FC’s DeAndre Yedlin (Sounders FC U23) all continuing their development in the PDL after leaving their MLS club’s academy to play college soccer.

“The PDL franchise will be a game-changer for the Pittsburgh soccer market,” predicts Kutney. “It will bridge the gap between youth and pro in this area. Additionally, from May through July, fans will be able to see the next crop of stars performing at Highmark Stadium.”