New York City FC announced this week that the Long Island Rough Riders will be their official Premier Development League affiliate beginning with the upcoming season.

The PDL, owned and operated by the United Soccer Leagues, features 67 teams in the U.S. and Canada. The league serves as a platform for college players who aspire to play professionally and want to compete at an elite level while still keeping their college eligibility. The PDL is regarded as the top amateur league in the U.S.

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“This affiliation will allow college-aged players the opportunity to play for the Rough Riders during their PDL season,” New York City FC sporting director Claudio Reyna said. “Our coaching education will continue with the Rough Riders so that their team is working in our playing style and philosophy, and together we will provide excellent coaching to players looking to become full-time professionals and take the next step in their career.”

The Rough Riders open their season on May 7 at 7:30 p.m. against the Westchester Flames. The game will be played at MacArthur High School in Levittown.

“Becoming an official PDL affiliate of NYCFC is a tremendous honor for our club,” Long Island Rough Riders general manager Flavio Ferri said. “This affiliation will grant our staff and players unprecedented access to the resources of NYCFC. It also gives players just starting out a phenomenal platform to rise through the ranks and play at the highest levels in the U.S.”