If you’ve been following along the story of LAFC and their relationship to the USL, you know there have been a couple updates over time. Despite the fact that Los Angeles Football Club won’t enter MLS until 2018, the club has been exploring USL options already.
Basically, the MLS-USL partnership requires all MLS teams to either have an affiliation agreement with an existing USL team, or create and run a USL team of their own. At one point, there had been talk that LAFC could organize a USL team before 2018, an unprecedented move so far for an MLS team, but something that could get a LAFC team of sorts on the field and begin the player development process in earnest.
As it turned out, the team decided to wait on setting up a USL team before the MLS team hits the field, so no LAFCish soccer next year (aside from the academy, of course).
And while there’s no guarantee LAFC will jump in and set up their own USL team in 2018 — they could still take the affiliate route — comes a tidbit on the possible branding on a LAFC USL team.
In an interview with SoccerNation on Monday (full disclosure: I conducted the interview), USL president Jake Edwards revealed a bit about the league’s side in talking to LAFC — and a hint about a possible USL team’s branding.
“We have had discussions with LAFC but with the amount of work they have to do between launching the team, an academy and building its stadium it doesn’t make sense to attempt a USL club right away,” Edwards said. “The discussions we did have centered on a distinct brand for any potential second team.”
Some context here: The issue of branding for “MLS2” teams has been a talking point. While the whole system is new, with LA Galaxy’s LA Galaxy II being the oldest MLS-owned team at three seasons old, it does seem like fan interest has not been great for teams named [Team name] II/2/B, and some teams have opted for alternate branding, like the Montreal Impact’s FC Montreal, Philadelphia Union’s Bethlehem Steel, or Sporting Kansas City’s Swope Park Rangers.
While teams aren’t publicly conceding “yes, our ‘2’ branding is bad,” it does seem like some branding differentiation could be necessary to bring in fans and help the USL team develop a slightly more distinct identity. And based on Edwards’ comment, it seems like LAFC is leaning towards something other than a basic “LAFC2” identity for a future USL team.
Still, it’s early and a USL team for LAFC is probably at least a couple years off, maybe more. We’ll keep you posted on other developments on this as they crop up.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!