By DAN KARELL
Taking advantage of the relationship between Major League Soccer and USL Pro, Toronto FC have agreed their own partnership with a USL Pro club.
The clubs announced on Wednesday that TFC and the Wilmington Hammerheads have partnered together on a one-year deal. The deal calls for TFC to send a minimum of four players to the Hammerheads and creates a business relationship between the two clubs.
“We are very excited to partner with Wilmington Hammerheads FC and continue to enhance the development of professional footballers in North America,” said TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “The deal represents the first time our club has established a full development trajectory for our Academy players from the U-12 level up through the first team. On the first team it can be a challenge getting younger players sufficient match experience required for their development during the course of a season.
“This partnership with Wilmington will allow our players to earn those valuable match minutes and continue their growth during the season in a professional environment in USL Pro. Today we have filled a developmental gap within our club.”
By partnering with the Hammerheads, TFC has opted out of the MLS Reserve Division in 2014.
TFC joins Sporting Kansas City (Orlando City and OKC Energy FC), the New England Revolution (Rochester Rhinos), D.C. United (Richmond Kickers), the Philadelphia Union (Harrisburg City Islanders), the Columbus Crew (Dayton Dutch Lions), and the Houston Dynamo (Pittsburgh Riverhounds) as MLS clubs to form affiliations with a USL Pro club. Sporting KC used their deal to their advantage last year as Dom Dwyer went from a reserve to starting in the MLS Cup final by the end of the 2013 season.
What do you think of this news? Do you feel this is a smart decision for TFC? Think they’ll send out Hamilton, Aparicio, and the other Homegrown signings to Wilmington?
Share your thoughts below.