Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sporting "2" Coming to the USL Next Year?

One of my big concerns and questions regarding KC's player development has been their lack of establishing a USL team of their own that they would operate. Back when MLS and the USL partnered up, KC was the first team to pick up an affiliate, Orlando City. The club was their affiliate for two seasons before becoming an MLS team this year. Last year as Kc prepared for Orlando to make the jump to MLS they affiliated themselves with the expansion Oklahoma City Energy and former goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen. The big success story of the USL loans for KC has to be Dom Dwyer and his performance in 2013 with Orlando City, setting a USL scoring record. Multiple other players have gone on loan with varying degrees of success, including the likes of Kevin Ellis, Jon Kempin, Christian Duke, Jimmy Medranda, and Mikey Lopez.
Sporting KC though has never really seemed to use the affiliation to its full advantage, KC never seemed to have the full complement of players loaned out to the USL team and for much of the second half of the season with all the injuries, didn't have anyone on loan to either affiliate. This year KC sent more players on loan to NASL side San Antonio (2, Kempin and Saad Abdul-Salaam) than they have to their USL affiliate, OKC (1, Lopez).
Today though out of Louisville comes a report that KC will be joining the likes of LA, Portland, Seattle, New York, and a few other teams and entering an expansion "2" team in the USL next season. In a report about an expansion team coming to Cincinnati, the article, quoting a source said that five new teams will be joining the league next season; one of those will be a KC reserve side. Coinciding with that move is apparently a move of St. Louis FC to the Western Conference, meaning an in-state rivalry for St. Louis.
Back in June, Robb Heineman had done a poll on Twitter asking for input on where a USL team in KC would play, Swope, Sporting Park, or moving around the metro/region, so this isn't a new idea that's been completely hidden from view. Swope would seem the obvious choice with its small stadium being a good size for a USL team, especially an MLS reserve side, as the highest average of a reserve side in the USL is the Real Salt Lake reserves, the Real Monarchs, averaging 3,966, while at the other end, FC Montreal is drawing just 357.
I really think a local affiliate would be a major plus for Kansas City, allowing them to more readily use the USL team to get players time. If KC is off a weekend, send a couple of the kids who are usually on the bench or just outside the 18 to the affiliate to play a Friday/Sunday stretch in Oklahoma or something similar. It also allows the players that are on loan to still be close enough to be observed by Peter Vermes, which I think was one of the original draw backs of the affiliate system for KC. Being able to see the guys train each day would allow Vermes to have a more active role with them, which to me seems like something Vermes would be big into that can't fully be done with affiliate in OKC.
Hopefully this would allow the return of the fantastically named Swope Park Rangers, the name fans used for the reserve team back when MLS had a reserve league.

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