Sporting Kansas City announced today that they will be joining the growing list of MLS teams to have their own USL team next year. When the partnership between MLS and the USL was announced, Kansas City was one of the first teams to jump on the bandwagon and picked up the first USL affiliate, partnering with Orlando City before they moved to MLS and then partnering with the Oklahoma City Energy the past two years. This year though, seven MLS teams joined the LA Galaxy and fielded their own team in the USL instead of using an affiliate and next year they'll be joined by Orlando City. Following the pattern that would give Peter Vermes and KC more control over their loaned players KC too will field their own team in the USL next season.
You can certainly insinuate things about the team based on the announcement. With it occurring at Starlight Theatre tomorrow, close to the team's training grounds and the Swope Soccer Village, one can certainly assume that the team would use the championship stadium there as their home field, joining the women's team, FC Kansas City as tenants at the facility.
Also at the announcement sporting will unveil the team's name and logo. Most fans seem to be hoping that the club joins the likes of the Real Monarchs and FC Montreal in not adding just a 2, II, or B after the first team's name. A number of fans seem to want a return to the old reserve team name, the Swope Park Rangers. I'm one of those fans that would like to see that become the team name; it would give the team a bit of its own identity instead of just being the reserves. Sporting has even trolled that name a little bit on their team website with sporting.com/rangers being a live site, but having an embedded video of Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up.
The announcement doesn't mention anything about a coaching announcement at this time, but for me there are two lines of thinking at this time when it comes to the coach. The first is that KC will have current assistant coach, Kerry Zavagnin take over the new USL team. Zavagnin has been an assistant for Kansas City since his retiring as a player after the 2008 season. I've often wondered why he hasn't gotten offers to become head coach at another club considering all of KC's success over the last five years.
The other option could be current Ottawa Fury coach, Marc Dos Santos. The Canadian coach has already announced that he is leaving the NASL club to take a job with an MLS team after the current NASL season finishes. At the same time word out of Canada was that he was leaving to take a job with Vermes' staff. Dos Santos would certainly make a good option for a USL team just like Zavagnin would. Either one I think would be a good choice to lead KC's team in the USL.
A third option that a number of fans would love would be the return of Jimmy Nielsen to Kansas City as head coach. The current head coach of KC's affiliate, the Energy, has had a successful second season in charge of the club leading them to a second place finish in the Western Conference. If rumors are true he'd also garnered interest from the Chicago Fire before they fired head coach Frank Yallop. At this time though I don't think Nielsen is going to leave OKC, I think he's got a good thing going there, and while he was a legend in KC, I don't think bringing him back is the right move right now.
In the end I think this move overall will be a big boost for KC. I think part of why KC never used the full allotment of loans to their affiliate had to do with Vermes' wanting to be able to be more in charge of their development than he could when they were in OKC or Orlando. This will give him that opportunity and allow him to watch training and have combined trainings when he wants to.