The Premier Development League
(PDL) is the amateur league in the United States
, forming part of the American Soccer Pyramid
. It is currently the top level men's amateur competition in the United States, and has 67 teams competing in four conferences, split into ten regional divisions; unofficially, it is considered to be the fourth tier of competition, behind Major League Soccer
, the North American Soccer League
and the United Soccer League
, and roughly equal with the National Premier Soccer League
and the Pacific Coast Soccer League
As PDL seasons take place during the summer months, the player pool is drawn mainly from elite NCAA college soccer players seeking to continue playing high level soccer during their summer break, which they can do while still maintaining their college eligibility. In addition, PDL squads often also include standout high school and junior club players, as well as former professionals seeking to continue competing at a high level, often having been forced to retire from top flight competition due to age or injury.
Increasingly, the PDL is seen as a 'shop window' for professional clubs looking to discover and identify aspiring professional players who may enter the MLS SuperDraft in future years. Many of the players currently playing in Major League Soccer and elsewhere began their careers in the PDL.