On January 22, the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL) announced how it will be organizing its 65 teams for 2015: four conferences subdivided into 10 divisions. Great.
What's that got to do with the New York Red Bulls?
Well, the Mid-Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference will comprise 10 teams: Baltimore Bohemians, F.A. Euro, Jersey Express, Lehigh Valley United Sonic, Long Island Rough Riders, Northern Virginia Royals, Ocean City Nor'easters, Reading United AC, Westchester Flames...and New York.
Hmmm. Is this mystery New York team playing in red and white?
As it happens, there is a New York team playing in red and white that does seem to have an opening for a PDL team.
PDL is, primarily, a league for college-age players who don't want to lose NCAA eligibility. In this respect, it is very similar to NPSL. RBNY had its U-23 team in NPSL in 2014 - and won the league's national championship. (The team that won the trophy included recent RBNY homegrown signing Sean Davis, Seattle Sounders' 2015 draft pick Oniel Fisher, and 2014 College Cup winner Scott Thomsen.)
It has long been rumored, however, that RBNY's NPSL team is no more:
The Red Bulls might simply have eliminated their U-23 team, since we know RBNY will have a reserve team playing in USL Pro in 2015. But if a team in USL Pro and a team in NPSL were exactly the same thing, there wouldn't have been so much interest in RBNY's USL Pro plans. The USL's PDL is essentially a parallel league to NPSL: just the sort of place a national-champ U-23 outfit might find a home if it had decided to quit its previous accommodation.
It is also possible the Red Bulls were considering dropping the U-23s into one of the many other lower leagues in USSF's not-as-simple-as-it-should-be pyramid. But PDL, since it is run by the same organization that operates USL Pro, always seemed the most likely destination if NPSL was no longer satisfactory (rumor has it MLS is basically trying to align all its teams along a PDL-USL Pro-MLS player development pathway).
The reasons for having a U-23 team AND a professional reserve team can be saved for another day. For now, we merely note that there is cause to believe RBNY's U-23 team is alive and well and about to start living in PDL.