Building the pyramid: Montreal Impact U-21s to compete in PDL next season

Montreal Impact huddle

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USA TODAY Sports

The player-development partnership between MLS and USL keeps growing.

The Montreal Impact announced on Tuesday that the club’s Under-21 team will join the USL's Premier Development League in 2014 as a U-23 team. The team will play 14 games in the PDL regular season, which runs from May through July.

“The PDL will be a good level of competition for us this year,” Montreal Impact Academy director Philippe Eullaffroy said in a statement. “We will be able to manage our roster between PDL games, the U-18 competing in the USSDA [U.S. Soccer Development Academy] and the MLS Reserve League.”

An amateur competition which includes many college players competing during the NCAA offseason, the PDL was comprised of 64 teams across the United States and Canada in the 2013 season, with regional competition based across four conferences.

The Impact are expected to compete in the Eastern Conference’s Northeast Division, which this past season included U.S. Open Cup participant GPS Portland Phoenix and division champion Ottawa Fury FC.

“The addition of the Montreal Impact is another fantastic step forward for the PDL, following the recent announcement of the San Jose Earthquakes,” said PDL senior director Ryan Brooks. “More and more MLS and USL PRO teams are realizing that the PDL is an ideal platform for the development of their young talent.”

Four other MLS clubs have teams in the PDL, with the San Jose Earthquakes also set to join the league alongside the Impact in 2014. The Chicago Fire, Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers have all been long-term members of the top amateur development league in North America.

Three other MLS clubs have partnerships with PDL clubs: the Philadelphia Union (Reading United AC), Seattle Sounders FC (Sounders FC U-23) and New England Revolution (Real Boston Rams).