In conjunction with the groundbreaking multi-year deal unveiled last year between MLS and USL PRO, the Richmond Kickers and D.C. United today announced that the clubs have extended their affiliation agreement through the 2014 season.
“Last year's partnership with Richmond was mutually beneficial and we are very pleased to be working together again in 2014,” said Dave Kasper, D.C. United General Manager. “Our younger players who went on loan last season gained valuable experience that can only be realized by playing in professional games. We have had a long-standing relationship with the Kickers and we look forward to making this another win-win year.”
Separated by a little over 100 miles, the two organizations worked closely to organize loan spells for nearly 20 years before officially affiliating prior to the 2013 season. As a part of the inaugural agreement, six players featured for the Kickers during the club’s 2013 Regular Season Championship run, with 2013 USL PRO Goalkeeper of the Year Andrew Dykstra, Taylor Kemp, Collin Martin, Michael Seaton, Conor Shanosky and Casey Townsend combining for 5,553 minutes while contributing nine goals and two assists on the season.
Through the extended arrangement with the Kickers, United will once again send a minimum of four first-team players – to be announced at a later date – on long-term loans to Richmond.
“We are delighted to extend our affiliation with D.C. United,” commented Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer. “Last season's achievements could not better highlight the multiple benefits of partnering with an MLS club. The overall depth of our squad improved and our on-field product improved while providing significant playing time for several of D.C. United's younger players. We look forward to building upon the success of last season and working closely with D.C. United for a long-term alliance.”
Over the past two decades, 24 D.C. United players have played with the Richmond Kickers, with the roster of players including 2011 Major League Soccer MVP Dwayne De Rosario, Mike Burke, Jeff Causey, Ben Crawley, Brian Kamler, Mike McGinty, Richie Williams, Mark Simpson, Clyde Simms and Robert Ssejjemba. Players who have featured with the Kickers on loan include Brian Carroll, Andrew Dykstra, John DiRaimondo, Taylor Kemp, Justin Mapp, Collin Martin, Andy Metcalf, Bryan Namoff, Anthony Peters, Michael Seaton, Conor Shanosky, Long Tan, Casey Townsend and Ethan White. In franchise history, an impressive 22 players have progressed from the Richmond Kickers into Major League Soccer.
Joining the Kickers with official MLS affiliations are the Charleston Battery/Vancouver Whitecaps, Dayton Dutch Lions/Columbus Crew, Harrisburg City Islanders/Philadelphia Union, OKC Energy FC/Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City/Sporting Kansas City, Pittsburgh Riverhounds/Houston Dynamo, Rochester Rhinos/New England Revolution, Sacramento Republic FC/Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes and Wilmington Hammerheads/Toronto FC. Last week, the LA Galaxy II was introduced as the first MLS formed and funded USL PRO team to operate within the club’s player development structure.
MLS sides without formal USL PRO affiliates will send their Reserve teams to participate in interleague competition with USL PRO squads. Fixtures between these MLS Reserve teams and USL PRO sides will count in both the official USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings. With the goal of enhancing the development of professional soccer players in North America, this partnership between the two leagues aims to strengthen competition and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration.