D.C. United officially unveiled their United Soccer League affiliate, Loudoun United FC, along with the team’s logo, at an event on Wednesday night. LUFC will begin play next year, as the team will open up a 5000 seat stadium at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park, to go along with a training facility that both teams will utilize.
For many years, United has had an agreement with the Richmond Kickers, an USL side based in Virginia’s capital, as a way to get fringe players some time on the field. However, that partnership hasn’t always worked out for the best for United, since Richmond is an independent side with it’s own operations to worry about.
““We are thrilled to be launching a professional soccer team in Loudoun County, Virginia that will debut in the United Soccer League in 2019,” Dave Kasper, United’s General Manager said in a press release sent out earlier today.
There are currently 9 teams in USL that are directly related to a MLS team, in one manner or another. Several retain the MLS team’s identity, such as Portland Timbers 2 or LA Galaxy II. Others, such as Bethlehem Steel FC and Rio Grande Valley Toros FC have different identities, but still operate under guidance from the MLS sides.
United’s move to create their own USL side is a continuance of their mission to finally catch up much of the rest of the league in terms of infrastructure. The team wouldn’t commit to a training facility or USL side in the area until they could get a stadium built within Washington, D.C. Once that got done, United quickly shifted focus into finding land for the facilities, landing just outside of Leesburg in Loudoun County.
“We are excited to be neighbors,” United Managing Partner Jason Levien said to the local residents attending the event. “And we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work with you.”
The USL side will give the Black-and-Red more opportunities to oversee local player development within their own system, and keep young players around who might not have enough opportunities with the first team. In years past, United have had to let draft picks and academy players go, as first team opportunities were limited. That will change with Loudoun United, with the added bonus of both Uniteds practicing at the same facility.
The stadium is set to open next spring, with Loudoun United beginning play in USL, the country’s second division for men’s soccer, in March. Office positions, as well as player acquisitions, will begin to take place in the upcoming months.
“What an exciting day it is for Loudoun County,” USL COO Justin Papadakis said at the event. “Today we celebrate not only bringing a professional team, but bringing the D.C. United academy to Loudoun County.”