Johnson City, Tenn. (January 28, 2016) – Owner Michael Balluff and head coach David Strickland announced the beginning of the Tri-Cities Otters FC Thursday night at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City, Tenn.
The team will play at Science Hill High School in Kermit-Tipton Stadium and will play seven home and away games from May to July this summer.
The Otters will be part of the Premier Development League (PDL) in the Eastern Conference and the South Atlantic Division. The team will join: Carolina Dynamo, Charlotte Eagles, Tormenta FC, Peachtree City MOBA, West Virginia King’s Warriors, and West Virginia Chaos.
The PDL is an amateur minor league soccer league that develops soccer players on their path to becoming a professional and is considered to be the fourth tier of professional soccer. The Otters are currently the only PDL soccer team in Tennessee.
“The Otters will make an immediate impact on the Tri-Cities in many ways. The Otters will be in a developmental level at the top of the soccer league, which gives kids athletes to see as role models,” said Balluff. “On another level, the team will provide a fan-friendly form of entertainment in our community and will be a nice addition to Johnson City.”
The team will include standout high school players and junior club players as well as former professional soccer players. The Otters will maintain a 26-man roster.
Tri-Cities Otters will be joining the South Georgia Tormenta FC and Peachtree City MOBA as expansion teams into the PDL.
“On a regional and national level, the team will represent the community positively on and off the field. We are predicting a large impact as fans from throughout the region will travel to see our regular season matches as well as exhibition matches,” said Balluff. “The city and businesses of the area will gain economic growth from the Otters.”
About the PDL
The proven developmental leader in North American soccer’s evolving tiered structure, the 2015 PDL season featured 63 teams within four conferences throughout the United States and Canada, including 10 teams affiliated with the USL or Major League Soccer clubs. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with 70 percent of all MLS draftees having PDL experience. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions.
BY MITCHELL MIEGEL