After just one year in Turlock the Premier Development League partnership with the San Jose Earthquakes under-23 team has been bought, renamed and moved to Burlingame.
The team will now be called the Burlingame Dragons FC.
The Dragons, based just north of San Jose on the Peninsula, will begin play in May with the start of the 2015 PDL season.
The Dragons are co-owned by Nick Swinmurn, founder of Zappos.com and minority investor in the Golden State Warriors, and Dave Ebersman, former CFO for Facebook and Genentech. The club will play its inaugural season at Burlingame High School, which features an artificial turf field.
"We are excited to partner with Burlingame Dragons FC as our PDL affiliate," Earthquakes president Dave Kaval said in a press release. "Nick and Dave have a great vision for the club, and this is an awesome opportunity to help grow the local soccer community while helping to develop younger players coming through the club's development system."
"Soccer has long played a vital role in the Burlingame community," Swinmurn said. "And the Bay Area is one of the richest sources of soccer talent in the nation. For us, that's a perfect combination. We're excited for the opportunity and look forward to it. They're a championship organization with a proven record of developing homegrown talent.”
Although the partnership turned out to be short-lived in Turlock the 2014 Earthquakes U-23 PDL squad had a successful first season, finishing third in the division, just three points behind first-place Ventury County Fusion.
The team's most visible player last season was center back Ramon Martin del Campo, who also plays college soccer at the University of California, Davis. The defender was so successful with the Earthquakes that he was invited last summer to be part of the U.S. Soccer U-23 program.
With such success on the pitch the only reason that it looked like a downfall was because of the attendance.
“I cautioned everybody that we needed to jump on board and support it right away,” said Turlock's PDL head coach and Stanislaus boys head soccer coach Dana Taylor. “We had some good crowds ... and the team was 7-4-3 and did great. I think those people that went to the games really enjoyed it.”
The Turlock PDL team averaged about 375 fans per game, but that was not quite up to standards and expectations for such a successful MLS franchise.
“Things could have been differently if the attendance figures had been slightly higher. It’s not where the Quakes needed it to be to have the impact they needed to have,” said Taylor. “Plus its closer to their training center which allows them to keep and move players on a daily basis. It’s a win-win. Its owners love the game and they want to develop it in the Burlingame area and they have exciting plans to make this grow.”
As of now, Taylor is not the official coach but the newly created Burlingame Dragons FC have asked the Stanislaus coach if he is interested.
“Yes I am interested but I am only part of the talks right now,” he said. “The announcement will be made in the future whether I will be the coach. Some settings need to take place for that to happen.”
The Dragons held a public event to celebrate the club's founding on December 10 in downtown Burlingame.
"Ultimately, we'd love to establish ourselves as a premier PDL franchise, ascend the USL ranks and build a soccer facility in San Mateo County we can call our own,” Swinmurn added.
Burlingame will be a member of the league's six-team Southwestern Division, and the club has begun selling an eight-game season ticket package through its website. Players interested in trying out for the Dragons, as well as the Earthquakes, will get their opportunity in late January.