Among the many parts of building an MLS club from scratch, figuring out USL arrangements as part of the partnership agreement between the leagues may not be as high on the priority list as building a stadium or constructing a first team, but it is one of many components to the overall project.
Penn discusses a variety of topics in the interview, which is worth a listen, but he provides key details regarding the status and thinking behind LAFC’s USL arrangement.
"We have the opportunity, as your listeners would know — the requirement to at least affiliate with a USL club, and potentially if it’s right the potential to own and operate our own club," he said on the podcast.
"We looked hard and chased an opportunity specifically to end up owning our own subsidiary club, and we just ran out of time. So that deadline has passed. We won’t have an LAFC-owned USL club in 2017."
One can speculate that for a variety of reasons, LAFC might have sought to buy local existing USL team Orange County Blues. Not only are the Blues in the general vicinity of Los Angeles and already up and running, rumors have been circulating for months that the team will be making an ownership change, with sources telling Angels on Parade an announcement on that front is imminent.
These comments from Penn would seem to indicate LAFC will not be buying the OC Blues, then, and for his part, Penn explained that prioritizing the situation surrounding LAFC’s stadium meant the USL scenario had to go on the backburner.
"We actually wanted to [set up our own USL team in 2017], if we could have figured out a way to make it work, but with everything...at one point, I just said ‘Look, we’ve got to keep the main thing,’ and that main thing was that building down on Figueroa, and making sure that comes out of the ground."
Does that mean LAFC will never set up an MLS2 team in USL? It doesn’t sound like that at all, only that the USL team will not precede the MLS first team.
"So the USL long-term plan in the marketplace, we certainly could still at some point add a subsidiary club that’s owned by our operation and feeds up into it," Penn explained. "So now what do we do for a plan B, which we always contemplated? We do have the opportunity to explore an affiliation with an existing USL team. We’re doing that.
"Whether we choose to formally affiliate or what that arrangement looks like is still in process and in progress, and details to follow."
So there you have it. For those who were looking for LAFC to get a jump on the team building project with a USL team established early, that’s not happening, but then again, no MLS team starting from scratch has yet done that. USL plans very much appear to be on the horizon, but according to Penn, there’s not going to be an LAFC2 up and running next year.
Be sure to listen to the entire LAFC Podcast interview with Penn if you’re interested in LAFC matters.
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