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D.C. United and Richmond Kickers renew affiliation for 2015 season

2015 is the third consecutive season that the Kickers will serve as United's USL PRO affiliate

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United and the Richmond Kickers announced on Thursday an agreement for the Kickers to serve as United’s USL Pro affiliate, the third straight year that such an arrangement has existed. As per the agreement, United will send at least four first team players to Richmond on long-term deals.

"We are extremely excited to be partnering with the Richmond Kickers for the third consecutive season," said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper said in a press release. "They provide a fantastic professional environment and have been instrumental in helping our players to develop as professionals while out on loan."

The four players set to go on long term loan to Richmond will be announced at a later time. Last year, United sent keeper Joe Willis, Jalen Robinson, Christiano Francois, and Michael Seaton to Richmond as part of the affiliation. In addition, Steve Birnbaum and Taylor Kemp spent time on loan in 2014 at Richmond, before coming back to D.C. to become starters for the Eastern Conference regular season champions.

During the two previous years of the affiliation, United has sent 13 players down to Virginia’s capital to play for the Kickers. In 2013, Andrew Dykstra, currently Bill Hamid’s back up as keeper, won the USL PRO Goalkeeper of the Year award for a Kickers team that won the Commissioner’s Cup as the top team in during the season.

"We are delighted to continue our partnership with D.C. United," added Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond's head coach and Director of Soccer, in the release. "The addition of MLS professional players to our team has proven very successful over the last two seasons, and we look forward to continuing that tradition."

Who do you think United will send down to Richmond this year? Is there a chance that a loanee will return to United and earn a starting spot like Kemp and Birnbaum did in 2014?