A developmental team affiliated with Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes will soon call Turlock home, thanks to a partnership with California State University, Stanislaus and the City of Turlock.
The newly formed team will play in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Developmental League, roughly equivalent to “Single-A” soccer.
“We’re excited about the opportunities that this brings to our community,” said Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder.
The team’s eight home games will all be played at CSU Stanislaus’s Warrior Stadium. The stadium, built in 2009, features a 2,100-seat grandstand and has previously hosted the California Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships, and both the NCAA and CCAA Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Championships.
The MLS Earthquakes team will also play a game at Warrior Stadium at 7 p.m. March 5 to kick off the new arrangement. The preseason contest will be an exhibition match against Sacramento Republic FC, a new team affiliated with the Earthquakes which competes in the USL Professional Division; the match will be Republic’s first game ever. Tickets will be on sale at the gate for $25, or in advance at the City of Turlock’s Recreation Office, 144 S. Broadway.
The Earthquakes’ PDL team will practice at the Turlock Regional Sports Complex, between 8 a.m. and 12 noon three days per week. In exchange, the City of Turlock will be allowed to to sell tickets to the PDL soccer games, receiving 10 percent of each ticket’s face value for youth soccer scholarships.
The Earthquakes announced the formation of a PDL team in November 2013, but did not say at that time that the team would be sited in Turlock. The San Jose Earthquakes are the fourth MLS franchise to field a PDL team.
“It’s a necessary component for our continued development, and it has definitely created a positive buzz around the organization,” San Jose Earthquakes Academy Technical Director Chris Leitch said. “I’ve been getting texts and calls from all sorts of former players saying they can’t wait to get back and be a part of it.”
The team will provide more continuity to the Earthquakes’ academy system, Leitch said. Those who played for youth teams affiliated with the Earthquakes previously left the system as they joined collegiate teams. Now, those players may participate in the PDL team while remaining eligible for their college teams.
“This will give us integrated development at every age group,” said Leitch. “It will help to keep guys in our system and provide us the opportunity to have our players stay with us for a long time. It will serve as a great proving ground and also an opportunity for guys that might not have been able to play college soccer.”
The PDL is intended to develop young players into professional players. Most players on each team are between the ages of 18 and 23.
Though most players are true unpaid amateurs, many of whom play collegiate soccer during the school year, some players are under paid contracts with MLS teams. Others play in the league to build teams’ interest for the MLS SuperDraft; more than 150 PDL alumni have been drafted in the past 5 years.
The PDL is the top “amateur” league, and the fourth tier of soccer competition in the United States behind MLS, the North American Soccer League, and the USL Professional Division. The league consists of four conferences and 64 teams, each of which play a 16-game regular season.
The San Jose Earthquakes PDL team will be coached by Dana Taylor, who has served as head coach of the CSU Stanislaus men’s soccer team since 2009. Taylor also coaches an under-13s team in Oakdale which is affiliated with the Earthquakes.
The San Jose Earthquakes PDL team, a member of the PDL’s Southwest Division, will play the following games at CSU Stanislaus:
May 31, vs. OC Blues Strikers FC
June 6, vs. Real Colorado Foxes
June 7, vs. Brigham Young University Cougars
June 14, vs. Southern California Seahorses
June 21, vs. Los Angeles Misioneros FC
July 5, vs. Ventura County Fusion
July 15, vs. Fresno Fuego
All games will begin at 7 p.m., and will be played on the Warrior Stadium field.