Many American football fans, especially those who only focus on MLS don’t know much about the PDL. The USL run Premier Development League however is having quite a summer. First, current PDL star Anton Peterlin signed with Everton of the English Premier League.

Next, PDL product Charlie Davies burst onto the world scene with an amazing Confederations Cup run which almost single handily turned the USA from the tournaments most impotent attacking force to having one hand on the trophy in the final.

Now, Cody Arnoux joins Peterlin at Everton, and former Wake Forest and Carolina Dynamo team mate Marcus Tracy in Europe. As someone who follows the USL umbrella as closely as I possibly can, I’ve been approached by readers and listeners over the past few weeks asking, what exactly is the PDL and how do they do it?

Let’s leave it to the source of information, 21st century style that everyone seems to rely on to explain the PDL: No I am not talking about the USL’s official website, but am of course referring to Wikipedia.

Francisco Marcos and Tim Holt as well as the rest of the USL brass deserve credit for the great progress of this league. While people tend to focus on the USL’s first division when referring to the league, the PDL has proven to be the most useful club setup in American soccer outside of MLS. Perhaps, in many ways it is more useful than MLS.

While USL-1 and USL-2 are perfectly acceptable leagues for entertainment purposes, USL’s real impact on the US National Team and European football is being felt thanks to the PDL. Moreover, the PDL has given many a player who doesn’t want to sign in MLS for an insultingly low wage, the opportunity to go to college while honing their skills over the summer in a professional environment (not I did not say the PDL is fully professional but that the setup around the better PDL clubs resembles lower league football in Europe, as does some of the training) and then take their chances going abroad.

While I enjoy USL-1 immensely, I am pleased that PDL is returning to South Florida next year with a team in Fort Lauderdale. For years, I have tracked players or turned up among small crowds for other PDL games in the state of Florida. It is at these games, I first saw both Michael Parkhurst and Heath Pearce, many years ago when they played for the Bradenton PDL team.

The PDL is a vital part of the American footy setup Whatever happens in the future within the USL’s professional divisions, the PDL will continue to be a critical cog for US Soccer: perhaps USL’s greatest contribution to American and World Football.