Last year Major League Soccer and USL-PRO announced a deal that would allow teams in both leagues to make affiliate partnerships with each other, with the MLS side loaning out some of their players to their USL-PRO partners. Although it also has the teams play a game between the MLS reserve side and the USL-PRO team’s first team as a regular season game for the lower league side, the primary benefit is for younger MLS players who would receive little playing time to go on loan with a lower league side and get more substantial minutes. It gives the parent team the benefit of player development and the lower league team gets MLS talent without the price tag.
Earlier today Sacramento Republic FC, Sacramento’s new USL-PRO soccer team set to begin playing this upcoming season, took advantage of this deal to announce an affiliation with both the San Jose Earthquakes and the Portland Timbers. From the beginning of the affiliation agreements between the leagues, speculations began as to which MLS team the Republic would affiliate with, with the most logical assumption being the Earthquakes as they are the closest team and would present the least logistical difficulties for player loans. However, there seemed to be no interest from the Earthquakes until a story came out that the Republic were leaning to affiliating with the Portland Timbers.
After the interest from the Timbers, San Jose began saying that the affiliation reached too far into their territory. The result of this seems to have culminated in today’s announcement with Sacramento being the only USL-PRO club to be affiliated with two MLS teams. Overall I am happy for the Republic for the affiliation agreement and I could not have chosen two clubs I would rather see affiliated with my team. However, I do have a bit of a problem with how the Earthquakes front office went about all of this. They seem to have had no interest in Sacramento until Portland stepped up and wanted a partnership with Sacramento. However, the weakness for the Earthquakes over the past few years to me has seemed to be its front office with many fans growing frustrated with how their team is being handled. This sluggishness to claim Sacramento as an affiliate appears to me as a symptom of bigger problems that have plagued the team for a while.
Now that the deal is done however I hope that it will bring benefits to all of the teams involved, with the Republic getting young promising players for their inaugural season from two separate MLS teams. I know that from the Earthquakes specifically (I’m a Quakes fan so I only really know their roster) have some players like Sam Garza who looked fairly good in his rookie season when he got some games but is apparently struggling to break into the first team due to confidence issues. A loan stint with the Republic could do him some good, I think. And maybe Tommy Thompson, San Jose’s new Homegrown Player who is from the Sacramento area, could come back home for a season on loan too.
On the Timbers side there is another benefit coming the Sacramento in the form of Rod Underwood, a coach who has been with the Timbers Academy and Timbers U-23 programs coming to Sacramento as an assistant coach.
While the process of setting up the partnership may have been a little bumpy, I think there is a chance for all three teams to benefit from this partnership. Hopefully when Sacramento joins MLS as they are hoping to do in 2016, this partnership will result in a bit of a unique relationship between the teams as former affiliates.
Also, if you live in the Sacramento area and have not heard of the Republic I suggest checking them out. If the front office and video department is any indication we are in for something special. Here is a taste:
Joshua Beeman (DJ Josh) is a newer DJ on KSSU.com and is just beginning his semester in the station. If you enjoyed this review, leave a comment below. And be sure to listen in to Just Joshing You, Thursday mornings at 10am for great music and local soccer news (once the USL-PRO season starts anyway).