By DAN KARELL
USL Pro expansion team Sacramento Republic FC haven’t kicked a ball yet but they’ve already reached landmark deals with two Major League Soccer clubs.
Sacramento Republic announced at a press conference on Thursday that they have agreed to partner with both the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers of MLS for the 2014 season.
The deal mandates that the Timbers and Earthquakes will have a minimum of two players each on loan at Sacramento Republic during the USL Pro season, though players may be recalled at any time. In addition, Timbers academy and Under-23 coach Rod Underwood has joined the Sacramento Republic coaching staff as an assistant coach under head coach Preki.
Both agreements with the MLS clubs are one-year deals.
“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 to entertain our fans with the high quality talent from each club,” Warren Smith, president of Sacramento Republic said 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. Each affiliate agreement provides an important part of our efforts to provide 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 partnership had been reported to be close to happening for the previous few months, with a number of local reports citing the relationship between Smith and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. Smith was one of the owners who sold the Timbers to Paulson in 2007.
According to a report in Sports Illustrated last month, the Earthquakes lobbied MLS to block this deal as the Earthquakes didn’t want the Timbers to grow their influence in Northern California. However it seems that the clubs agreed on a co-partnership in the end.
As of Thursday, nine of the 19 MLS teams have now agreed partnerships with USL Pro clubs. The Los Angeles Galaxy have reportedly been interested in creating their own USL Pro club but they’ve made no official announcement yet.
What do you think of this news? Who do you see the Earthquakes and Timbers sending to Sacramento on loan?
Share your thoughts below.