USL’s website has a profile on the new Los Angeles Football Club-Orange County Blues partnership deal, and there’s a very interesting revelation in the story.
As many have mentioned, the partnership between the MLS and USL teams resembles that of Atlanta United and the Charleston Battery, who had an affiliate partnership in 2016, a full year before Atlanta United first fielded a team in MLS. A handful of Atlanta United signings, prospects and players effectively on extended trials for the MLS team, went on loan to Charleston to get some playing time.
Since LAFC will also be a year away from playing in MLS next year, the signs point to them also signing young players who might contribute on an MLS team in 2-3 seasons and in all likelihood prospective depth players for the MLS roster, just like Atlanta.
But there’s a distinction between the arrangements for the MLS expansion teams. Unlike Atlanta’s deal, LAFC’s partnership with Orange County “is exclusive, which means any talent signed in the upcoming year should arrive soon after in Orange County.”
I know what you’re thinking — if LAFC sign a big-name Designated Player in 2017, will he be sent to play in USL? Probably not. The exclusive partnership is for the United States.
“All of the players they’ll be signing for the U.S. market next year will be playing for us in the USL,” said Orange County executive VP of soccer operations Oliver Wyss in the story.
So if a player, probably a North American, possibly Central American, signs for LAFC next year and needs a place to play, he’ll play for OC. If he’s still under contract until 2018, he’ll play with the team he’s contracted to, and that probably includes any big-name stars signed.
Still, it’s nice to know that players signed next year will have a place to play locally and get some reps before presumably joining LAFC the following season, and that random players won’t be farmed out to random clubs. In other words, it sounds like both teams are taking this partnership seriously, and the enticement for LAFC fans to go watch Orange County games in 2017 is even bigger.
There’s a lot more to read in that profile on the partnership on USL’s website, so be sure to check out the whole story.
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