[USL PRO 2014 COUNTDOWN] Three more MLS clubs announced agreements to loan players to USL PRO teams in 2014. Both Portland and San Jose will work with expansion Sacramento Republic FC, while Vancouver will affiliate with the Charleston Battery.
Both the Timbers and Earthquakes will send a minimum of two players on loan to Sacramento, which will be coached by former Chivas USA and Toronto FC head coach Preki. Neither Portland nor San Jose will participate in the MLS Reserve League.
"We are excited to partner with the Timbers and Earthquakes in an effort to develop talent on the field, emulate each club’s business success and eventually garner an MLS franchise of our own," said Sacramento Republic president Warren Smith in a statement. “Our organization is twice blessed with the ability to learn from not one, but two MLS clubs, their experienced operating teams and engaged, passionate supporters. This affiliate agreement provides Sacramento Republic FC, as well as the entire Sacramento region, one of the most talented USL PRO clubs in the league and a MLS vision for our community.”
The Whitecaps will send at least four players from their roster to play for the Battery during the 2014 USL PRO season. The teams had an informal arrangement in 2013 when Vancouver sent midfielder Bryce Aldersonand two Whitecaps U-23 players, midfielder Ben Fisk and defender Emmanuel Adjetey, on loan to Charleston. As a result of the partnership, the Whitecaps will not participate in the 2014 MLS Reserve League.
“The Battery is a well-respected club with a tradition of success on and off the pitch," said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi in a statement. "We have a long-standing relationship with the Battery's president Andrew Bell, dating back to our days in the USL First Division, and we are excited to formalize an official partnership.
The Battery won the 2012 USL PRO title. It is the last lower-division team to make the Open Cup final, losing in 2008 to D.C. United.
The agreement leaves only three teams expected to return in 2014 -- Charlotte, Phoenix and Los Angeles -- without MLS partners.
Ten of 19 MLS teams have USL PRO affiliates. The goal is for every MLS team to have a USL PRO affiliate agreement or a team of its own in USL PRO in 2015.
MLS/USL PRO Partnerships:
Sporting KC/Orlando City-OKC Energy FC