After a 5 year hiatus, the San Francisco Seals are back. The Seals will play in the PDL, the Premier Developmental League, hosted by the United Soccer Leagues. The season will run from May to mid-August and consists of 16 regular season games. The PDL was designed to fit into the niche made by NCAA rules which permit college soccer players to play outside the university during this period. The majority of players will come from the under 23 age group, but up to eight players on the roster can be over 23 years of age. The Seals will play in the South Western division of the PDL which has 9 teams, which are all located in California between San Francisco and San Diego.
The Seals submitted their letter of commitment on October 12, 2005 after the Nevada Wonders, Carson City, agreed to move their operations to the San Francisco Bay Area. As part of the agreement, the franchise was renamed the Seals and will be managed by the same group that managed the famed Seals franchise of the last decade. In 1997 the team gained national prominence by reaching the semi-finals of the US National Open Cup against DC United of Major League Soccer. On their way to that game, the Seals upset three teams considered their superiors: the Seattle Sounders (the previous year’s Open Cup Champions and reigning A League Champions), the Kansas City Wizards and the San Jose Clash. After the Clash victory in the Quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, which the Seals won by a dramatic 2-1 come from behind win in the last 17 minutes of the game at Spartan stadium, the Seals were crowned America’s "Team of the Year" by USA today. United States Soccer’s website listed those two matches among the top 10 in the 100 year history of the US Open Cup.
The rejuvenated Seals will be a trimmer version of its old self. Instead of playing in the high profile A-League, now the USL First Division, where budgets commonly exceed $1 million dollars, the Seals will operate on less than $100,000. Operations will be facilitated by a bevy of volunteers. Players, by rule, cannot be paid, including professionals. Games will be played at local universities, high schools and other facilities that welcome their presence and make it affordable.
There is a renewed sense of interest and support in the Bay Area welcoming the Seals back. One local community club has offered to "buy a game" for fundraising for its youth teams. A representative of the Antioch-Brentwood community inquired about moving operations to that community. And since the Earthquakes departure, disappointed fans have contacted the Seals on a daily basis offering volunteer support, requesting to buy season tickets, and asking to be sponsors. Two bereaved Quakes fans have asked to buy shares in the franchise. Player tryouts have been jammed with numbers and the enthusiasm among soccer players is high.
The Seals promise to be very competitive. The Bay Area is rich in soccer talent and there are many hungry players itching for a chance to play high level soccer. Along with competing in the PDL, the Seals will play in the U. S National Open Cup and relish the opportunity to fell a giant once again.
The Seals are currently holding try-outs for players, creating teams for marketing and game day operations, finalizing schedules, creating a website, and searching for sponsors and investors. Those interested, especially fans, can send their emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign-up for one or more of our email lists by clicking on the "Join Our e-Mail List" on the left side of our web page, and choosing your interest.
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