Last weekend, the 2016 edition of the Premier Development League kicked off. The USL-run competition is one of the top pro-amateur leagues available, and offers a summer home for college talent from around the United States and beyond.
Spanning from May through the end of July, teams throughout the U.S. and Canada compete in the abbreviated summer league. The combination of college players and semi-pros looking to keep the dream alive adds to the intrigue.
Keep an eye on these 16 college players below as the season builds momentum.
F Timmy Mueller, Portland Timbers U23 (Oregon State)
It’s been a scintillating first two seasons in college soccer for the Boise, Idaho native, who will stay in Oregon for the summer and surely get a long look from the Timbers coaching staff. The 6-foot-3 forward is a classic target man with 17 goals form 39 games across his first two seasons, and could be in the mix for top scoring honors in the PDL.
GK David Greczek, Jersey Express (Rutgers)
The past fall was a banner season for Rutgers, back stopped by the steady hands of Greczek, who earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors. After spending three years as a starter for the Scarlet Knights, the goalkeeper is in line to earn a nod in goal for the Jersey Express this summer.
M/F Brian Iloski, San Diego Zest (UCLA)
Injuries have hampered Iloski’s college campaign, as he’s appeared in only 31 matches since joining the Bruins in 2013. A silky smooth attacking midfielder, Iloski’s set to be close to home and play for the Zest. If he can stay healthy and sharp, there’s no doubt he can make a significant impact ahead of his senior season.
A consistent offensive threat over the past two seasons at Buffalo, Russell Cicerone earned MAC Player of the Year plaudits after amassing 12 goals and eight assists. Can he leverage that into a standout PDL campaign in Michigan? The Bucks are one of the league’s best clubs on a yearly basis, and Cicerone will look to use the time to help his team and also boost his MLS draft stock.
F Abu Danladi, Ventura County Fusion (UCLA)
One of college soccer’s most recognizable games is slated to turn out for the Fusion this summer, though in the past he’s played sparingly during the summer months. Trips to Europe could be on the docket as well as Danladi continues to evaluate pro options once he decides his college career is over. Regardless, he’ll be a must-see player this summer, providing an electric attacking presence for the Fusion.
GK James Marcinkowski, Burlingame Dragons (Georgetown)
Despite his up-and-down performance with the U.S. U20s at this spring’s Dallas Cup, Marcinkowski remains one of the best young goalkeepers in the nation. The Dragons have signs that they are going to take the PDL very seriously this season, and the local product offers a steady presence between the posts.
M Dakota Barnathan, Portland Timbers U23 (VCU)
Following in the footsteps of a number of VCU players to suit up for Portland’s U23s, Barnathan is a classic holding midfielder who is one of the nation’s most underrated talents. If he can provide a solid performance this summer, it bodes well for his chances of getting a long look from an MLS side somewhere.
D Marcello Borges, New York Red Bulls U23 (Michigan)
There’s a long list of intriguing prospects that will once again suit up for the Red Bulls U23s: Arun Basuljevic, Eric Klenofsky, Kevin Politz and Zach Knudson to name a few. Borges belongs on that list, a versatile player who could possibly line up as an outside back or a wide midfielder. U.S. U20 duty limited him last fall, though he’ll look to stay sharp close to home before looking to lead the Wolverines back into the NCAA Tournament.
M Brad Fountain, Reading United (Florida International)
The former Bournemouth Academy player has bounced around since crossing the pond to play college soccer. He earned All-CAA Third Team honors for Northeastern in 2014, before transferring to the Panthers last fall, where he played in 20 games, scoring five goals and three assists. Reading United has a track record for producing MLS players, and Fountain surely has that in the back of his mind as he looks to take the PDL by storm.
Justin Vom Steeg is a rare breed of goalkeeper. He is tall and imposing, but he is also athletic and intelligent. He has been in the net for the Fusion for the past two seasons, as he has quickly emerged as one of the best players in that position at the youth level. He should be a dominant force in the PDL this summer as well as a name to watch for the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team in 2016/2017.
In all three seasons with the Dons, De Luna has earned WCC postseason plaudits, as he was on the All-Freshman Team in 2013 and picked up All-WCC Honorable Mentions in 2014 and 2015. SFCFC isn’t a new club, but will be making its first appearance in the PDL. De Luna will look to make a positive first impression in the team’s new home
GK Nico Campbell, Des Moines Menace (Valparaiso)
A rising senior from Jamaica, Campbell is sure to get looks from the pro ranks in 2017 if he can put together a quality campaign for the Menace and Valpo. Standing at 6-foot-4, he is a reliable netminder who has grown into the starting role for the Crusaders since taking over in 2014.
M Fredlin Mompremier, Long Island Rough Riders (University of Tampa)
After a standout high school career in Florida, Mompremier joined the University of Tampa, where he made 11 appearances, scoring four goals and adding an assist for the Division II power. The Haitian youth national team player has the unique opportunity of turning up for Long Island Rough Riders this summer, which happens to be the PDL affiliate of NYCFC. Stepping up a level of competition should provide a stiff test for Mompremier as he looks to leave an even bigger mark on Tampa this fall.
F Guillermo Delgado, Seattle Sounders U23 (Delaware)
The Spanish forward is no stranger to the PDL, as this summer will mark his third straight stint in the league, and the second year in a row for the Sounders U23 side. Delgado scored five times in 802 minutes last season, and the speedy forward is sure to be near the top of draft boards heading into the fall.
F Jon Bakero, FC Tucson (Wake Forest)
Another Spaniard for the PDL ranks, Bakero heads west to set up shop in front of goal for FC Tucson. Slowly but surely the attacker has made the adjustments to college soccer, scoring six times as a freshman and eight last fall. An even bigger role in 2016 is in store for him at Wake, which could bode well for those in Arizona as he aims to stay sharp.