By RYAN TOLMICH
Like the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake before them, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders are set to expand into the USL Pro.
The Timbers announced Tuesday that the club has formed Timbers 2, or T2, as a professional team that is set to compete in the USL Pro starting in 2015. T2 will join LA Galaxy II and the Real Monarchs as USL Pro clubs with direct ties to MLS sides.
“I believe that MLS clubs with their own USL PRO teams in-market will have a competitive advantage on a number of levels,” said Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. “This is a big investment for us and signifies our commitment to winning.”
T2 will play at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field, which has a capacity of 5,000. In addition, the team will train at club’s Adidas Timbers Training Center in nearby Beaverton, Oregon.
The expansion team – which will have a separate coaching staff from their MLS counterparts – reunites the Timbers with USL, where the club played for 10 years prior to becoming an MLS expansion side in 2011.
Meanwhile, the Sounders will join their rivals among the USL Pro ranks with the introduction of Sounders FC 2.
“We are proud to announce the formation of S2 and complete the player development program that starts with our Academy and ends with the Sounders FC First Team,” said Sounders FC Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer. “The partnership with the Sounders Community Trust supports the club’s vision for a fan-involved sports organization that deeply values the input and perspective of its supporters.”
S2 will play out of the club’s Starfire Stadium and will be owned by the club and the Sounders Community Trust, a fan-based organization that will hold a 20-percent interest in the team.
What do you think of the new USL Pro team? Is the formation of sister clubs the best way for MLS sides to cultivate talent? How do you see the league evolving in the coming years in terms of player development?
Share your thoughts below.