By FRANCO PANIZO
The Vancouver Whitecaps are the latest MLS team to find a USL Pro affiliate.
The Whitecaps announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement to make USL Pro club Charleston Battery their affiliate partner for the 2014 season. The deal means Vancouver will loan a minimum of four players from its MLS roster to the Battery and will not partake in the MLS Reserve League.
“The Battery are a well-respected club with a tradition of success on and off the pitch,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi in a statement. “We have a long-standing relationship with the Battery’s president Andrew Bell, dating back to our days in the USL First Division, and we are excited to formalize an official partnership.
“This affiliation will greatly benefit the development of our younger players by providing an opportunity for them receive more minutes in a professional environment and as a result it will help with player transition from our Residency and U-23 programs into the first team.”
The Whitecaps are the latest MLS team to enter an affiliate partnership. The Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes both struck deals with USL Pro expansion club Sacramento Republic earlier on Thursday, and Toronto FC announced that their affiliate club was the Wilmington Hammerheads on Wednesday.
Several other MLS clubs currently have affiliate partners, including reigning champions Sporting Kansas City (Orlando City, Oklahoma City Energy), the Philadelphia Union (Harrisburg City Islanders), D.C. United (Richmond Kickers), and Columbus Crew (Dayton Dutch Lions).
What do you think of the Whitecaps entering a partnership with the Battery? Wishing Vancouver would have picked a club closer to home? Which players would you like to see loaned to Charleston?
Share your thoughts below.