[USL PRO]The Houston Dynamo became the fifth MLS to enter into an affiliate partnership with a USL PRO club when the Eastern Conference finalist struck a deal with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The partnership will enable the Dynamo to loan a minimum of four MLS-contracted players to Pittsburgh for the 2014 USL PRO season. Houston will not participate in the MLS Reserve League in 2014.
"I think it is a positive that we are moving ahead with our younger players,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “They come back to our team as better players and we think this will be a good relationship."
In 2013, Houston loaned midfielders Alex Dixon and Brian Ownby to the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies and USL PRO Richmond Kickers. Dixon recently went through the Waiver Draft. Ownby, who grew up in Richmond, helped the Kickers win the 2013 USL PRO regular-season title.
The Riverhounds who moved into their own soccer-specific stadium in 2013, made a late-season push to qualify for the playoffs as the USL PRO's No. 7 seed.
“In partnering with a top MLS side like the Houston Dynamo, the Riverhounds are now on a path to the top, both on and off the field,” said Riverhounds CEO Jason Kutney.
The most notable partnership involved Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City. Dom Dwyer led Orlando City to the 2013 USL PRO title, and his goal propelled Sporting KC into MLS Cup 2013.
The Portland Timbers are reported to be set to enter an affiliate agreement with USL PRO expansion team Sacramento Republic.
The LA Galaxy is anticipating having a team in USL PRO in 2014 to give its homegrown signings and academy players more playing opportunities. USL PRO is also expected to announce Thursday the addition of a team in Colorado Springs for the 2015 season.
MLS/USL PRO Partnerships:
Sporting KC/Orlando City