We could see more USL Pro affiliates for MLS teams in 2015, with Real Salt Lake looking to own a team and FC Dallas looking to affiliate with one.
There are currently 10 MLS teams with USL Pro affiliates, with two more set for 2015. FC Dallas would be the thirteenth, and the MLS team is looking for an affiliation as a way to continue player development. Proximity is an issue for FC Dallas management, so it’s likely the team will affiliate either with Austin or Tulsa, expansion teams for next season. It may not be an easy sell, as FC Dallas is planning to field its own USL Pro team in 2016 (at the earliest):
In the past, Dallas President Dan Hunt has said the club would like to start its own USL Pro team. That likely won’t happen until 2016 at the earliest, but FCD is currently in the final stages of naming a USL Pro affiliate for 2015, an announcement which should come in the next 30-60 days.
“Yeah, we are in the final stages of having an affiliate for the 2015 USL Pro season. I won’t elaborate who it is out of respect for them and also the league,” Hunt said. “We develop our own young players and this is a great way to get these kids meaningful games.”
No such delays for Real Salt Lake, which is planning a USL Pro team for Rio Tinto Stadium in 2015 and a new Utah State Fairpark tentatively set to open in 2016. From SB Nation:
Prior to this news, it had been assumed that RSL would enter into some type of collaboration with an already established USL Pro team. At a media luncheon held back in March, General Manager Garth Lagerwey had said that it was likely that the team would form a short term affiliation for the 2015 season with an existing team. Clearly those plans have now changed.
USL Pro affiliates are bound to be a big topic in MLS front offices in coming months; the way the league develops players may change over time, especially if there are changes on the NCAA side as well.
Image of Rio Tinto Stadium by Jeremy Piehler via flickr.com.