Saturday’s Premier Development League Championship between Reading United AC and Calgary Foothills FC marks not only the biggest moment of the league’s 2018 season, but a massive step forward for each club.
While Foothills FC makes its second Championship appearance in team history following a win over Chicago FC United - the club fell to the Michigan Bucks in 2016 - Reading United enters its first after successfully navigating the National Semifinals in a tough, 120-minute match against The Villages SC. No matter who wins on Saturday night, it’ll be the first time the PDL Championship trophy has graced either team’s headquarters.
“The PDL Championship is the match all 74 clubs strive for at the start of each season,” said PDL Co-Director Chris Madden. “To have two strong, well-supported clubs like Calgary Foothills FC and Reading United AC competing for the ultimate prize is a perfect conclusion to what has been a thrilling season. Both squads are led by amazingly talented coaches - Alan McCann in Reading and Tommy Wheeldon Jr. in Calgary - and feature many incredible athletes that we fully expect to see in the professional ranks within the next year. We wish both clubs the best of luck and look forward to being a part of a thrilling event in Reading, Pennsylvania, this weekend.”
Reading will host Saturday night’s match at Gurski Stadium, entering the match as Mid Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference Champions with an undefeated 12-0-2 regular-season record. Led by 2018 PDL Coach of the Year - and first-year Head Coach - Alan McCann, Reading boasts four players in the PDL Top Prospects. Included in that group are No. 1 prospect and All-League midfielder Aaron Molloy, No. 7 prospect Daniel Krutzen (out injured), No. 21 prospect and All-League honorable mention defender Kamal Miller and No. 38 prospect defender Lamine Conte.
In addition to Molloy and Miller - both of whom also made the All-Eastern Conference team - goalkeeper Bennet Strutz was named All-League honorable mention and All-Eastern Conference. Joining his teammates on the All-Eastern team is forward and all-time Reading United leading goal-scorer Khori Bennett.
Calgary makes the long haul to Reading with an equally impressive resume and strong title credentials. Led by another of the highest vote-getters in the Coach of the Year ballot Tommy Wheeldon Jr. - who will go on to become head coach of Cavalry FC as the club launches in the Canadian Premier League next year - Calgary has already earned the distinction of being the Northwest Division and Western Conference Champion and seek to add their first PDL title to the mix. Led from the front by No. 50 prospect and leading goal-scorer Moses Danto and from the back by PDL Golden Glove winner Marco Carducci, the team hasn’t surrendered a goal in six matches dating back to the regular season. The team also boasts 2018 Assist Champion Carlos Patino on its talented roster.
Foothills FC are also well-represented on the All-League team, with both Carducci and defender Danto making the cut among the league’s best eleven, with defender Dominick Zator being named among honorable mentions. Also appearing on the All-Western Conference team, those three are joined by midfielders Nico Pasquotti and Elijah Adekugbe, as well as honorable mention defender Jonathan Wheeldon.