USL News Release
Monday, December 12, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer Leagues is pleased to announce that Connecticut FC Azul will join the PDL for the 2012 season. The club, based out of Hamden, Connecticut, becomes the state’s only soccer franchise.
The home venue and coaching staff will be announced in the near future.
“This is another great addition to the PDL’s growing presence in New England, having also recently added clubs in Boston and Worcester Massachusetts,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “We’re excited to add Connecticut to USL’s footprint, which now includes 34 states, four Canadian provinces and two Caribbean nations.”
CFC is built slightly different from most PDL franchises. The club already has a very successful 70-plus team youth system in place. The PDL team will become the natural pinnacle team for the CFC pyramid. The Azul will give its top CFC players the opportunity to return to CFC during and after their college years.
“I am very excited to partner with President Steve Coxon and CFC to create a franchise that will continue to develop players past the youth system,” co-owner Costas Flessas said. “Creating an environment that simulates European standards of the player development pyramid is something U.S. soccer will need to foster players that eventually fill into professional teams, and we are excited to contribute.”
"I played in the A-League [now USL PRO, USL’s professional division] for more than six years with the Connecticut Wolves and I learned a great deal about how to run a USL team,” Coxon, also co-owner, said. “Many of my former teammates are still involved in the game and we are going to lean on them and many others in the Connecticut soccer scene to help make this into a top-notch franchise.”
The Azul will play a 16-game schedule between the months of May-August. The top supplier of talent for professional soccer in North America, the PDL saw another large group of its alumni make the move into professional soccer in 2011 with 37 of the 54 players selected in the 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft having previously played in the PDL.
A remarkable eight of the first 10 selections in the draft had PDL experience, including 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong of Sporting Kansas City, who previously played for Reading United AC.
CFC Azul will have open tryouts for anyone interested in joining the franchise.