TAMPA, Fla. — Colorado Pride Switchbacks U23 will join the Premier Development League for the 2018 season as the partner of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC of the United Soccer League, it was announced Friday.

The team will play in the Mountgain Division.

“The addition of Colorado Pride Switchbacks U23 not only makes our Western Conference and Mountain Division stronger, but continues to grow the PDL’s role as the top pre-professional league in North America,” PDL co-cirector Chris Madden said in a statement. “Pride Soccer Club’s long-standing history of developing local youth players, combined with the resources of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, provides an incredible development opportunity for players to continue their development in the PDL.”

Founded in 1994, Pride Soccer Club launched with 45 teams and 430 players. It has grown to encompass approximately 4,500 players on more than 300 teams.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to add a PDL team to our existing youth club,” head coach Diego Zaltron said. “As the largest soccer organization in Colorado Springs with over 5,000 players and a partnership with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, the only USL team in the state, it is important for us to be able to offer our players a complete pathway to the pros. Our players now have a chance to go from recreational soccer all the way to professional soccer right here in Colorado Springs.”

Colorado Pride Switchbacks became the ninth expansion club that will begin play in 2018, joining a to-be-named Birmingham franchise, the AHFC Royals, Lansing United, Corpus Christi FC, Lionsbridge FC, Ogden City SC, SF Glens SC and Kaw Valley FC.