Semi-pro soccer team coming to Carson
The United Soccer Leagues will award a Premier Development League team to Carson City starting in 2003, a top USL official confirmed recently.
“The Carson City group is in for 2003,” said PDL operation manager Steve Clamp.
Clamp said eight new PDL teams will be added next season and Carson City is one of them. Albany (N.Y.) Black Watch Highlanders, West Virginia Chaos, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Fever, Abbotsford (B.C., Canada) and Fresno (Calif.) Fuego had been awarded franchises in the past few weeks. Clamp said the other franchises were going to be announced at USL ‘s Annual Operations Meeting, which were held Nov. 7-9, but the announcement has yet to made.
“We haven’t made an announcement yet or on the website or anything because normally we wait for the team to make the announcement,” Clamp said.
The PDL is an amateur league that serves as the lowest level of the USL. Along with the PDL, the USL includes the A-League and D3 Pro League, essentially second and third division pro leagues after Major Soccer League, the highest level of professional soccer in the United States.
The Reno-based Northern Nevada Aces competed in the D3 League this past year but will join a new amateur league called the Men’s Premier Soccer League next year. Most of that league will include former PDL or D3 teams that want to break away from the USL.
“Basically, it’s going to be a glorified Sunday (men’s) league,” Clamp said. “It’s going to be at a level way below the PDL. Those teams didn’t agree with how we were doing things.”
Paul Aigbogun, who was the Aces’ head coach last year, will be the Carson team’s head coach, Roser said. Aigbogun attended the USL operations meeting last week and, along with Roser, will meet with league officials in Florida after Thanksgiving to discuss schedules and other information. Roser said the tentative name for the team will be the ‘Nevada Wonders.’ A logo for the team has yet to be developed.
“We paid our franchise fees about 1 1/2 weeks ago,” said Roser, who estimated the costs for the first year to be around $100,000. “As far as the USL and PDL are concerned, we signed a contract to have a team for 2003.”
The team will play their home games at the Carson High soccer field and major renovations are in store before the season starts in March. Lights, more bleachers and field upgrades will be just some of the improvements, Roser said. He’s already gotten clearance from Carson High principal Glen Adair and athletic director Ron McNutt for use of the field.
PDL teams can have up to 26 players, with three having to be U-19 players. Teams can have eight international players and can include former professional players who wish to reinstate their amateur status. Eight of the players can also be over 23-years-old. Roser said Aigbogun plans on putting several of the top high school players in Northern Nevada on the 26-man roster, including players from South Tahoe High.
The Wonders, along with the Fresno Fuego, will play in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference, which includes the South Bay Sharks, Orange County Blue Star and the Southern California Seahorses. The Chico Rooks and Los Angeles Heroes competed in the Southwest Division last year but have left the league.
The PDL is the largest national developmental league in North America, with almost 50 teams in the United States and Canada. It has acted as a springboard for some of this country’s most successful soccer players, like the Colorado Rapids’ Pablo Mastroeni, a starter for the U.S. National Team in last summer’s World Cup. Mastroeni played for the Tucson Amigos in the mid 90s before being drafted by the MLS’ Miami Fusion out of North Carolina State.
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