MLS-USL Partnership: D.C. United and Richmond Kickers announce affiliation

As expected, D.C. United has announced their new affiliation agreement with USL Pro's Richmond Kickers. We've got details of the agreement and all the dirt on the Black-and-Red's newest partner in developing their future stars.

This afternoon, D.C. United became the third MLS team to announce affiliation with a USL Pro club since yesterday's big announcement that the MLS Reserve League will be integrating into the third tier of the American soccer pyramid. (More details available here.) As expected, United will be partnering with the Richmond Kickers.

To repeat some things we already knew, United will be sending at least four players on season-long loan - the USL season starts April 6 and through August - to Richmond, with the ability to recall them as needed. United will continue covering the salaries of the loaned players. The D.C. technical staff will also plan on making several trips down I-95 to watch the young talents who go on loan. This relationship will effectively replace D.C. United's reserve team, and they will not field a team in this year's reserve league.

Now, some new information, courtesy of the Post's Steve Goff:

  • Although United and the Kickers have worked together in the past and expect the relationship to go on for the long term, the initial arrangement is only a one-year deal, so that both sides can evaluate the MLS-USL partnership and see where it heads.
  • Richmond coach Leigh Cowlishaw (who will be speaking with our own Benuski later today) will be traveling to Orlando during February to observe United's training camp there. One imagines he will have some input on which players he'd like to have join his side, but the ultimate decision will rest completely with United.
Since we are all Richmond Kickers now, a quick primer:
  • Founded: 1993
  • Colors: Red and white
  • Head coach: Leigh Cowlishaw, since 2000
  • Trophies/Honors: 8
    • 1995 U.S. Open Cup Champs (last of the pre-MLS era)
    • 1998 and 2001 A-League Regular Season Champs
    • 2006 and 2009 USL-2 Champs
    • 2007 and 2007 USL-2 Regular Season Champs
    • 1995 USISL Premier League (now the PDL) Champs
  • I understand that all USL matches will be available for live streaming - at no charge - at USLnation.com.
At various points, no fewer than 18 D.C. United players have played for the Kickers - a number that will surely grow substantially over the next year and beyond. Foremost among them are Dwayne De Rosario and Clyde Simms, who both got their starts playing for lower-division Richmond before earning the eye of MLS coaches. Last season, United sent Ethan White and Long Tan to the Kickers for loan stints, continuing a tradition that already included names like Bryan Namoff, Brian Carroll and Justin Mapp.

Now that it's official, any thoughts on the MLS-USL partnership or United's deal with Richmond in particular?

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