With May finally here, USL's Premier Development League is revving up to action, kicking off with games this coming weekend.
For the uninitiated, the PDL serves as a summer home for the bulk of the best players in college soccer, with either that or the NPSL the primary leagues that offer competitive games.
This week, topdrawersoccer.com will look at 10 college players to watch from each PDL conference ahead of the start of a new season.
Below are 10 Division I players from the Southern Conference to know this season.
As will become evident below, SIMA’s PDL squad is absolutely loaded with both former players and local Orlando standouts. One of those is Loera, who excelled for the Orlando City Academy before a stellar freshman season in 2017. A No. 10 that can create and score, look for him to shine this season.
Coming off a tremendous sophomore season, McLaughlin returns home for the summer to compete for OKC Energy’s U23 side. A direct forward that can wreak havoc in front of goal, provided that he’s not on trials with clubs in Europe or training with MLS franchises, McLaughlin has the potential to lead the team in scoring.
The Big East Freshman of the Year scored 10 goals during his first season on the Hilltop. The Chicagoland native is set to head to Florida with teammate Jacob Montes to compete for the side on Florida’s East Coast. Dodson played mostly as a sub last year, so how handles the demands of longer stints on the field is going to be worth watching.
Another former Orlando City Academy player that joined NC State, Norris is an underrated player that was quietly excellent as a freshman for the ACC side. A calm and collected defender, simply getting on the field for a talented Aguilas side should be an indicator of just how good he is.
The Italian attacking midfielder is on his way to join the Zips for his senior season. A lesser known player that turned out for Reading United last summer, Micaletto brings plenty of quality to Tormenta.
A key part of SMU during his freshman year in 2017, Maples is back in Texas where he’ll link up with Brazos Valley. The team is based in Bryan, between Houston and Dallas, and it will provide a platform for Maples to improve ahead of his second season in DI soccer.
An attacker that thrives in wide spaces, Montes started every game as a freshman for the Hoyas, scoring twice and adding five assists. A smart player that can pick a pass and beat defenders one-v-one, he should be more than capable of becoming a key attacking pieces for North County.
The Texan started his college career close to home, playing for SMU during the 2016 season. A transfer to Butler was just what he needed, as Guhl hit the ground running, scoring 13 goals and notching five assists on the way to earning Big East Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors.
F Daryl Dike, OKC Energy U23 (Virginia)
While Dike is yet to technically step on campus to compete for UVA, he signed with the Cavaliers as part of their 2018 recruiting class. A hulking No. 9 that can compete physically with players in college, his involvement this summer will be worth watching for. He’s on the Energy roster, though sometimes incoming freshmen leave for summer school or to get a head start on their respective DI careers.
After a torn ACL forced Hale to sit out his true freshman season in 2016, the former FC Dallas Academy goalkeeper was solid in his redshirt freshman year last fall. He made 43 saves in 18 games at Furman, and will be back in Texas for a summer of soccer in the PDL.