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LAFC, Orange County SC officially end affiliation

Partnership seemed to run its course.

Personnel from both clubs when the partnership was announced.
Courtesy of OC Blues FC.

Los Angeles Football Club and Orange County SC announced on Twitter on Friday they have mutually agreed to end their official affiliation after the initial two-year run ended.

Orange County SC offered the following statement to Angels on Parade:

Orange County SC and LAFC have opted not to renew their affiliation agreement for the 2019 USL Season. Both clubs have benefited from their partnership over the past two seasons, but they have mutually agreed not to extend the partnership after it expired upon completion of the 2018 USL season.

The news is not surprising. While the teams seemed to share some practices early, and a handful of LAFC players went on loan to OCSC, the relationship did not appear to be especially close. LAFC signed a single player from Orange County’s 2017 roster, in backup goalkeeper Charlie Lyon, and in 2018 only loaned two players — victim of international roster slots logjam Nico Czornomaz and goalkeeper Luis Lopez, getting rehab starts — to the team. Meanwhile, LAFC loaned out four other players to rival USL teams: James Murphy to Las Vegas Lights FC, and Tristan Blackmon, Shaft Brewer, Jr. and Josh Perez to Phoenix Rising FC.

Meanwhile, after Orange County went for young promise with their roster in 2017 and failed to find consistency in a difficult season that involved a heavily backloaded schedule, they opted for a mix of young and experience and made several top-tier signings in order to compete in USL in 2018. That strategy worked, and they came a game short of reaching their first USL Cup final.

So it seemed that both teams kind of moved on from the arrangement. Both made use of the MLS-USL partnership, but they loaned players to USL and from MLS, often from clubs outside the affiliation. The writing appeared to be on the wall.

Many are wondering what’s next for both sides here. I don’t necessarily expect any major changes. While MLS teams are supposed to be mandated to have a USL affiliate if they don’t run their own USL team, several teams have ignored that over the years, so it may not be such a hard and fast rule after all. USL expansion is done for 2019, as the league schedules for both the USL Championship and USL League One appear to be complete, so don’t count on an LAFC team launching at either level any time soon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another partnership for 2019, possibly with Phoenix Rising, but I don’t know that is a priority, necessarily.

And OCSC found plenty of success in loans from MLS outside LAFC, with three good contributors in Mark Segbers (New England Revolution), Andre Rawls (New York City FC) and Alex Crognale (Columbus Crew SC), so they’ll probably just keep doing that.

Anyway, we’ll still cover both teams, and we’ll see what’s in store for both moving forward.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!