D.C. United's U-23 team to compete in the National Premier Soccer League in 2013

Jeff Golden

Jaime Moreno's D.C. United U-23 team is going to be playing meaningful games this coming summer by joining the National Premier Soccer League.

Federal City FC and D.C. United announced today that they have entered into a partnership that will have United's U-23 team playing in the National Premier Soccer League. Jaime Moreno is the head coach of the U-23 team and his assistant coaches will be United U-18 Academy coach Nolan Sheldon and U-16 Academy coach Tom Torres. The team will begin play on May 17 against RVA FC and will play home-and-home against them, Chesterfield United FC (also in Richmond), CASL Elite (Raleigh, NC), and Myrtle Beach FC.

The National Premier Soccer League is a relatively new league, having been founded in 2008; it is on the fourth tier of the U.S. Soccer Pyramid, on the same level and with the same basic purpose as the USL Premier Development League. Both leagues are designed for college players to continue playing competitive matches during the summer while maintaining their NCAA eligibility. The main difference between the two, however, is the number of games played: last year USL PDL teams played 16 games while NPSL teams played anywhere from 6 to 12 games (United's U-23 team will play 8). United is the second MLS team to place their U-23 team into the NPSL, with the New York Red Bulls being the other; the Chicago Fire, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and Vancouver Whitecaps all have teams in the USL PDL. However, none of these other teams have entered into an affiliation with USL Pro, giving United the most opportunities for youth player development of any team in MLS.

This move is another piece in the soccer empire that D.C. United is building in the District, Virginia, and Maryland. United will have players in the first, third, and fourth tiers of the U.S. Soccer Pyramid, playing competitive matches against other professionals and aspiring professionals. At the youth level, United have their own academy and are affiliated with the Annandale Boys and Girls Club and the Freestate Soccer Alliance; in addition, both the Richmond Kickers and Federal City FC have their own youth academies. At the college level, they now have their own U-23 team and are affiliated with the PDL's Baltimore Bohemians. Finally, at the professional level there are the Richmond Kickers and, of course, the D.C. United first team. With this partnership, United has completed the vertical integration of their youth development system, while at the same time broadening the pool of prospects. Hopefully the next CJ Sapong will now play for United's U-23s during his summer break and be signed to United's first team, instead of playing for the Fredericksburg Gunners and being drafted by another team.

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