The Philadelphia Union's Player Development League affiliate team has spent plenty of time in the last couple of years near the top of the PDL standings. Now the Reading United AC looks to build upon their past successes with a boost by a strong 2011 recruiting class.
"The recruiting class brought in by Brendan Burke is absolutely top notch. We have enough talent on this team to field two superb PDL teams, let alone one," a team official told the Brotherly Game.
"We had four players drafted into the MLS last year, with another signed as a homegrown player. Philadelphia Union and Reading United fans can expect more of the same from the players we're bringing in for the 2011 season. We're talking quite a few 1st and 2nd round picks, and possibly a dozen of these players playing professionally."
Here's the list of this season's recruiting class: Matt Hedges, Raymon Gaddis, Kirk Urso, Brian Span, Sam Garza and Stephen Okai.
After the jump, more quotes from the team about the players that were brought in for this season...
"All Matt Hedges knows how to do is win. We're talking about a tall, steady defenseman who was named 2nd team NSCAA All-American last year, and helped Butler finish undefeated in the regular season. He's going to step up his game this year with North Carolina, and he won't disappoint."
"Raymon Gaddis is a huge asset to the United this year. Like Matt Hedges, he's entering his second year, and will help provide some veteran leadership to the backline. His international experience as a youth has certainly paid dividends in his development into a tenacious right back."
"Kirk Urso has spent the majority of his career in the spotlight. His experience in the U17 World Cup and three straight Final Fours shows his ability to shine the brightest when all eyes are on him. He finds the back of the net in big games, and can step up when he's needed most. That's something you can't teach."
"Brian "Cobi" Span is one of the most exciting players we've brought into Reading this year. He has size (6'3", 180 pounds), speed, and the technical ability to succeed at any level. He was one of the top attacking players coming out of high school, and put together a solid freshman year for the rebuilding University of Virginia. This summer could be when he pulls together that gap between skill set and performance on the field. All I can say for opposing PDL teams is: Look out."
"Sam Garza is someone who has had to battle back from an unfortunate injury while training for the U20 World Cup. Coming back from that rehabilitation stint, he showed how hungry he was to succeed at the next level. His nine goals led a very talented UCSB team, and if he can prove he's healthy, should get a serious look at being selected in the next MLS SuperDraft."
"Stephen Okai adds a different flavor the United, after playing for Ghana's U15-17 teams and being named NAIA First Team All-American. Don't let the fact that he plays for an NAIA school fool you; he can do more than hold his own against any opponent. Few midfielders are as relentless on the ball as Okai, and that translates to any level."
For more on Reading United, please visit the team's website by clicking here.