Joy for US-based Pacesetter Villa in inaugural Super 20 campaign
Villa are enjoying on-field success Stateside thanks to the exploits of Ohio-based club Pacesetter.
Earlier this year, Villa entered into a partnership with Pacesetter Soccer Club which would see the US outfit wear our official kit and compete in the prestigious Super 20 League under the name Pacesetter Villa.
The Super 20 League is the top league for 17 to 20-year-olds in North America and also serves as a reserve team system for Major League Soccer clubs.
Pacesetter Villa flourished in their inaugural season, clinching a spot in the National Championships after finishing second in their regional division ahead of Columbus Crew.
A tight fixture schedule meant the team had to finish the campaign with fixtures on back-to-back days - but incredibly they achieved maximum points including a 4-2 win over table-toppers Toronto.
Now Pacesetter Villa - who won all of their home games - will head to Florida for the National Championships.
It is the first time that a Pacesetter team has reached the national stages of a competition in the club's 30-year history.
Not only has the arrangement with Villa helped Pacesetter attract top young players, it has spread the claret and blue gospel to a sizeable audience in Ohio.
Home matches in the Midwest Division have attracted crowds of around 2,000, as well as receiving regional TV coverage.
Supporters at a recent game even staged a 19th-minute applause for former Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov.
James Walker, executive director of coaching at Pacesetter and a lifelong Villa fan, said: "It's a massive accomplishment reaching the National Championships especially since it's our first season in the league.
"It is also the first time any team from Northwest Ohio has ever made it to the National Championships.
"The partnership with Aston Villa has been massive for our community, our players and our fans.
"With the Aston Villa name behind us we have been able to attract some of the top 18, 19 and 20-year-old football players from across America.
"It has also been great exposure for our team, the club and for Aston Villa in the USA.
"We have a number of players that will go on and make it to the professional ranks and hopefully one day we will have a player or two good enough to play for Aston Villa."
Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner was quick to send his congratulations to Pacesetter after their spot in the National Championships was confirmed.
"We've been following the progress of the Villa Pacesetter Super 20 team and are delighted that they have qualified for the National Championships," he said.
"Their fixture schedule meant that their last two games had to be played back-to-back in two days and they needed to win both to have a chance.
"The fact that they managed to pull that off is a great credit to the spirit of the team and their coaches, and everyone at Villa now wishes them all the best at the National Championships.
"The first year of this link-up has already been an undoubted success and this now gives them an opportunity to go even further and make it a truly memorable season."
Snap up the new Villa away kit for 2013-14 now.